The movie takes place in New Zealand before colonial times when Maoris ruled New Zealand. Polynesian people are the ancestors of the Maori. They originated from south-east Asia and migrated to New Zealand. The movie is about two Maori tribes that have ancient rivalry. The conflict has been put to rest, and the tribes live amicable.
Until, a young war chief called Wirepa covets the glory gained in battle by rekindling the ancient rivalry. He violently attacks the other tribe. The Chief’s son, Hongi, survives with a few other members of his tribe. Hongi goes after them with full out assault on revenge.
As a strategic plan, they decide to cross through the `Dead Lands’, hence the movie’s name The Dead Lands, where it is believed that a warrior spirit lies in wait. The spirit will devour any person who trespasses, adding a haunting tale to the storyline.
The rest of the movie is action packed outing, with a bunch of martial arts fighting, blood splattering and other violent plundering. The backdrop of the movie is a beautiful tropical forest with the harsh contrast to the story, and the music adds a fair amount of intensity to the movie. A standout actor in the upheaval is Lawrence Makoare as the Warrior, who drives his role with vim and vigor, emotion and pure charismatic presence.
The movie is entirely in Maori with English sub titles. Don’t get caught up in the sub-titles, just watch the movie and the story will unfold. I recommend this movie if you enjoy real violence in a rather barbaric fashion that gets under your skin.