Sunday, 3 February 2019

DVD Review: The Dead Lands (2014)

In the lands to the East once lived a great tribe. But then suddenly they disappeared and ever since those lands have been forbidden territory. The Dead Lands.

  When a Maori tribe it attacked and wiped out, the surviving son of the chieftain vows to hunt down the men responsible and make them pay. 

 But to do that, he's going to need some help from the terrifying warrior that lives in the Dead Lands.

 If the warrior doesn't kill him first. 

 I picked this film up on a whim because the cover looked pretty cool and I am really glad I did because this is one of the more interesting things I've seen lately.

  The big attraction for me is that you get a rare chance to watch something based around Pre-European Maori culture and warfare. The martial arts alone are fascinating; the fighting is at the same time ritualised and very, very brutal. There's also a big emphasis on honour and the veneration of the ancestors.
 Also cannibalism.  Um...Yeah.

 The entire movie is in Maori which I rather liked too.

 Moving on to the film itself,  the cast is, as far as I can tell, made up of unknowns with everybody having more than enough chops to carry their part of the film. In particular Lawrence Makoare does a good job as the un-named "Monster" who is a complex, violent character.  When skulls aren't being cracked, The Monster and the young chieftain's son (James Rolleston) are playing off each other in a  great way: One is young and idealistic, the other is a brutal cynic.

  If I have a criticism it's with the way the fights are shot.  The actual choreography is great:; like I said before, there's more to a Maori battle than crushing skulls. The pre-battle ritual display is almost as important.
 However, I did sometime take issue with the camerawork which didn't always seem to be catching the action to full advantage.  

 I mean, it works. But maybe it could have worked better?
 Maybe that's just me.  Lord knows that's a petty nitpick to an otherwise great movie.

To sum up:  If you've ever watched a Maori haka and thought "These guys must have been terrifying to fight."  then The Dead Lands might appeal to you.

Here's the trailer.

 And just for the hell of it, here's some music for you 
Maori Metal is a thing. How awesome is that?

 That's all folks. 

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