Toa Fraser Explores Maori Martial Arts In THE DEAD LANDS

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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Toa Fraser Explores Maori Martial Arts In THE DEAD LANDS
Best known for arthouse fare such as Dean Spanley, New Zealand director Toa Fraser will be taking a hard left turn into entirely different territory with his freshly announced new film The Dead Lands. And whatever lessons he learned about shooting choreography with his acclaimed ballet film Giselle - a selection of the Toronto International Film Festival - will be put to use with choreography of an entirely different sort.

After his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery, Hongi - a Maori chieftan's teenage son - must avenge his father's murder in order to bring peace and honor to the souls of his loved ones. Vastly outnumbered by the band of villains, Hongi's only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious "Warrior," a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
Yes, The Dead Lands is a period set action epic based entirely in the traditional Maori fighting arts. James Rolleston (Boy), Lawrence Makoare, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Horan, George Henare and Rena Owen star with principal photography beginning on Monday. Sales and production company XYZ Films (where, yes, I'm a partner, full disclosure, etc etc) will handle all international business on the film with XYZ's Australian exec Simon de Bruyn (hey! that's a familiar name, too!) telling Screen, "[The Dead Lands] is an important film. These guys are bringing Maori history and culture to life in an authentic, unsparing, and dramatically spectacular way."

That's the first piece of concept art above and keep an eye out for stills and other materials as production moves along.
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Actionhuatoamaorimartial artsthe dead landsToa FraserGlenn StandringJames RollestonLawrence MakoareTe Kohe TuhakaXavier Horan

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More about The Dead Lands

Marvelous_MarlDecember 9, 2013 4:22 PM

NICE ONE fellas, i'm very eager to see this when it comes out, "Mau Rakau" is a VERY brutal fighting art, especially with the weapons (like clubs edged in shark teeth!!!!) - many of the stick fighting techniques are very similar to Eskrima & Krabi Kabrong as well. good to see this martial art get more screen time, the only previous attempts i can recall are 'Whale Rider' and another one i can't remember the name of...

Todd BrownDecember 9, 2013 4:37 PM

I think I can safely say that you'll be seeing some weapons.

MikeDecember 10, 2013 1:43 PM

Always neat to see martial arts films from outside the usual areas.

Hanajun ChungDecember 11, 2013 2:29 AM

At the end of this film called 'Broken English,' the protagonist rescues the damsel by using that club (edged in shark teeth) with some sweet moves. I think I also saw it in this film called 'Utu,' but that one took place in a war atmosphere so mostly guns and rifles. But yeah, quite excited to see the maori culture again onscreen. I'm expecting to see an epic haka sequence somewhere in this new film.

Marvelous_MarlDecember 11, 2013 9:00 AM

THAT was the one i couldn't remember, Broken English, thank you...

Kingi GilbertDecember 15, 2013 11:57 PM

I really want to root for this film... something making me feel sceptical about it though (am more than willing to change my view as details gets released). It is regarding the PR, probably would have helped to have one of the following established actors/theatrical directors and Maori martial arts experts Temuera Morrison, Wetini Mitai Ngatai or Tukiterngi Curtis as fight choreographers or attached to the film. The current named cast n crew don't have the kind of martial arts experience or have not been widely acknowledged as 'masters', but hey, keen to see what the production team can do. Awesome stuff XYZ really stoked to see you guys taking a punt on Maori films, I feel really privelaged as a Maori to see XYZ supporting this production, hope its a successful project! Really cool idea and wish it very much all the best!

Todd BrownDecember 16, 2013 9:45 AM

You've got nothing to worry about there, Kingi. The fight team is VERY experienced and the prep was very lengthy and intense. I've seen some rehearsal video and it looks pretty amazing.

Marvelous_MarlDecember 18, 2013 1:34 PM

would be neat to see if they could get UFC fighters Mark Hunt or James TeHuuna who are of Maori decent to cameo in some fight scenes...

Kingi GilbertDecember 18, 2013 3:16 PM

I did some of my own research. The Maori martial arts guys will no doubt do their best for the skill level they have. Good luck to you all!

Tipene KereiDecember 21, 2013 1:21 PM

Hey Kingi, Jamus Webster is on board with the Mau Rakau as are a couple of younger experts in the martial art.

Simon de BruynDecember 22, 2013 11:52 PM

Some training was done with Mark Hunt before the film started shooting.

Marvelous_MarlDecember 23, 2013 10:10 AM

awesome! so does that mean he'll be in the final cut?

Todd BrownDecember 23, 2013 1:50 PM

There's a lot of shooting yet to be done before there's any conversation about cut.

Simon de BruynDecember 24, 2013 5:41 AM

I did not mean to be misleading; I should have phrased it as "they trained alongside Mark Hunt" as in he supports the project and he's clearly helped in some way with fight prep and pre-shoot fitness training.