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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Once Were Warriors [Blu-ray]


(Lee Tamahori, 1994)



There is a French Blu-ray with English dialogue and optional English subtitles here:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: New Zealand Film Commission 

Video: Film Movement



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:42:51.165  

Disc Size: 34,558,342,729 bytes

Feature Size: 31,356,813,312 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.00 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: September 6th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4152 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4152 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



Behind-the-Scenes featurette (11:42)

Once Were Warriors Theatrical Trailer (2:08)
Kamikaze '89 (1:34)
Violent Cop (1:22)
The Quiet Earth (1:00)
Antonia's Line (1:48)
The Pillow Book (1:34)
Francesco (1:50)
Collector's Booklet with film essay by New Zealand leading cinema expert, Peter Calder





Description: Jake Heke lives with his family in a tenement house for native Maori in the slums of Auckland. Despite his love and devotion, Jake's battle with alcoholism frequently results in terrifyingly erratic outbursts in front of his children and violent beatings of his wife Beth. After Jake loses his job, each member of the Heke family is forced to face their own personal demons and the societal constraints that shackle native New Zealanders.



The Film: An unemployed Maori living in the Auckland slums, Jake Heke (Temuera Morrison) has a terrible temper that he takes out on family and strangers alike. His wife, Beth (Rena Owen), takes regular beatings after he's been at the pub, and his kids do what they can to sidestep trouble. Nig (Julian Arahanga), the eldest, is joining a street gang; Boogie (Taungaroa Emile) has been placed in a foster home; and Grace increasingly retreats to the pages of her journal

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE


An emotionally raw, visually stylish first feature, with the intensity of the best social melodrama, about the indomitable spirit of battered Maori wife Beth Heke (Owen) as she struggles to hold together her disintegrating family. Husband Jake (Morrison) is a violent yet charismatic bully, the sullen eldest son is already a gang member, the youngest is in care, and only gifted daughter Grace (Kerr-Bell) offers hope for the future. A gritty human drama evoking the residual vibrancy of a threatened culture.

Excerpt from the TimeOut located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Once Were Warriors is transferred to a dual-layered Blu-ray from Film Movement.  The 1-hour 42-minute feature has a max'ed out bitrate. It is in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio (presumably opened-up from the original 1.85:1), and looks reasonably clean. Depth wavers a bit and it can look occasionally soft but I don't know that this isn't a factor of the original production. This Blu-ray while not dynamic is pleasing in its appearance despite the, occasional, inconsistencies. Without being too picky, I think most will be very appreciative of the image quality. It's miles ahead of the old SDs.


NOTE: The opening and closing credits have been slightly letterboxed (see first capture - large - after subtitle sample) which is common for some releases (ex. Warner do it frequently with older films).



















Audio :

Film Movement give the option of a lossy and lossless track - both in 5.1 surround. In comparing the two - the DTS-HD Master obvious has more, discreet, range and depth. Dialogue is clean and audible - but background sounds can be exported with a high volume - I seem to recall the same thing on the DVD. The score is by two Murrays - Murray Grindlay and Murray McNabb - who also worked together on Broken English. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Extras consist of a 12-minute Behind-the-Scenes featurette with interviews of the cast and crew as well as a trailer for the film and other Film Movement titles. The package contains a collector's Booklet with film essay by New Zealand leading cinema expert, Peter Calder.



Yes, Once Were Warriors is grim, honest and unforgettable. The Film Movement Blu-ray provides a darn solid presentation of a highly impacting film. It's a view into a rarely exposed foreign culture and how it has melded with the modern world. Fascinating and disparaging how domestic violence has disintegrated a family unit. How horrible. The film is a masterpiece and this Blu-ray gets a very strong recommendation!   

Gary Tooze

September 26th, 2016



There is a French Blu-ray with English dialogue and optional English subtitles here:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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