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The Dead Lands Review

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Teenage Hongi (James Rolleston) is the only survivor of a tribe wiped out by the devious Wirepa. Hongi vows revenge and sets off on a perilous mission across the forbidden Dead Lands, an area ruled by a legendary cannibal warrior.

★★★★

Toa Fraser’s thriller, filmed entirely in Maori, takes place in the ancient period before New Zealand was colonised. It begins with a massacre: the teenage Hongi (James Rolleston) is the only survivor of a tribe wiped out by the devious Wirepa (Te Kohe Tuhaka). Hongi vows revenge and sets off on a perilous mission that will take him through the forbidden Dead Lands, an area ruled by a legendary cannibal warrior. A picaresque adventure follows, neatly balancing a folkloric coming-of-age tale with violent action thrills, climaxing with a neat upending of the usual expectations.

Neatly balances a folkloric coming-of-age tale with violent action thrills.