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YMMV / Once Were Warriors

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  • Anvilicious: Violent drunkenness is bad and no substitute for the restrained warrior traditions. Maori people are screwed badly if they don't accept it. OK, do we have to keep seeing Jake swear and beat the shit out of more people we don't care about to get that?
  • Award Snub: The film was nominated for many international awards, particularly for its acting. The standout was The New Zealand Film and TV Awards, however, when Rena Owen was overlooked for her performance as Beth.
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  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: It gets rather hard to care about the storyline about halfway through, after the fifth beating, 50th fuck and second rape.
  • Ear Worm: "What's the time, Mr. Wolf? What's the tiiiiiiiiiimmme?"
  • First Installment Wins: The novel spawned two sequels: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted and Jake's Long Shadow. The second was also filmed, and the adaptation, while well-received, was nowhere near as popular or well-known as OWW. The third story in the series has not been filmed, possibly due to Adaptation Displacement.
  • Memetic Mutation: Notably "Cook me some fuckin' eggs!" and "Uncle FUCKIN' Bully!".
  • Moral Event Horizon: For most viewers, Jake crossed it when he has violently raped Beth about a third into the film. However, the film doesn't think so and keeps showing us him committing despicable things until we definitely get that yes, he is a monster and is irredeemable.
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  • Retroactive Recognition: Jango Fett, natch.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The Toa Aotearoa gang. We see that they use Maori culture for their ends and that they accept Nig and provide support for him, but this requires him to endure a brutal beatdown. Is their existence a way for downtrodden Maori youth to make their way in life or something that further marginalises the peaceful majority of Maori from the white population? Are their attempts to connect with Maori culture through the tattoos one of the few ways to preserve it in the cynical, value-free world or something that makes a mockery of its original meaning? Those questions are far more interesting than seeing Jake beat the shit out of someone for the nth time. However, they get no attention in the film and aren't addressed at all.
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  • What an Idiot!: Uncle Bully. If Jake's family come into the bar and accuse you of child rape that you have done, and then hand him a diary which details exactly what you have done, the smart thing is to flee while he's still reading, no?
  • The Woobie: Poor, poor Grace gets it particularly hard. She's sexually assaulted by Uncle Bully, and quickly starts to lose hope. After a heaping of particularly horrid abuse from Jake, her despair is enough to cause her to hang herself from the old tree in their yard. Yeah, you may want to get some tissues.


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