The Review/Short Read/

Hump Day Movie: The Deadlands

A Maori tribe unleashes a can of whoop-ass

Apr 6, 2016

Sweet readers, baseball is back! The Toronto Blue Jays have their home opener this week, and across this great nation, humans watch these early games with breathless anticipation. Will Kevin Pillar once again legitimately fly across the field like some sort of supernatural being powered by champagne and the dreams of a generation of sports fans? Yes, he will.

Will the batting rotation once again smash home runs like so many plates at a Greek wedding? Yes, that too will happen.

Will Canada's team fulfill their destiny and return us to the glory of 1992 and 1993, when I was but a wee boy and unable to fully grasp the meaning of the glory of a hard won victory?

The jury is still out on this one, but if you want to mentally prepare yourself for the coming tide of battle, you should gird your loins by finding a copy of Toa Fraser's Maori action film, The Deadlands. Following a young man's quest for revenge after the slaughter of his tribe, The Deadlands clips along with exceptional speed and intensity, finding new gears as it races to its inevitable and bloody conclusion.

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Stylized Maori martial arts mix with a heightened engagement with the spiritual world as James Rolleston's Hongi hunts down his family's killers. He enlists the help of The Warrior, played by Lawrence Makakore, a cannibal spirit with whom Hongi shares a similar biography. Together, they traverse a world where the temporal and spiritual combine beautifully, as cinematographer Leon Narbey's camera work captures the luscious New Zealand landscape and the magic of the human beings who inhabit it. Fraser's film blends the mythic with the real, creating a story that is nothing short of Shakespearean. If the Jays use this film as a pre-game pump-up, there's no doubt that we'll be watching baseball in October.