Director: Rene Naufahu.
Starring: Calvin Tuteao, Beulah Koale, Joseph Naufahu, Xavier Horan . New Zealand. 1h 51m.
Riding off the success of a movie made over 22 years ago, The Last Saint promises to be as bold and impressive but it doesn’t explode in the same way and could easily be mistaken as a whimper.
Minka (Koale), am urban straight edge teen living with his meth addicted mother (Vaele) and going off the rails with his bad boy father (Tuteao), has to deal with a lot of growing up in a short amount of time. Events just unfold one tragedy after the other and each breaking the boy down until he starts to break. The daily grind of caring for a meth mother starts to wear Minka down and eventually he goes to his father for help, his dad is a bit of a prick, not in the same hands on way as Jake from Once Were Warriors (1994) but he does make an attempt at bonding with his son with nights out drinking with prostitutes and eventually end up getting him work with a hulking paranoid psychotic drug dealer. Eventually with dad’s interventions things start to pick up and they even venture out as a family for a night of fun, strangely it end up at a Tunni,the night turns ugly and the film along with Minka slide into a dark depression. His ties with PinBall (Naufahu) strengthen as he gets in with the wrong crowd, can this last saint survive this temptation and test of will, and will his
Sometimes doing right means doing wrong.
Since the release of Once Were Warriors (1994) there has been many attempts to match it’s greatness, but even it’s own sequel fell short making the film seem like a fluke of some sort. The previews were a little misleading suggesting that this was going to match the violence with a gritty presence but it hangs in drama land for way too long, as a coming of age drama it’s pretty good, with a few seasoned actors including Calvin Tuteao who was the gang leader in Once Were Warriors (1994) it does achieve an edge and as a debut from director Rene Naufahu there is some promise here among the explosive rawness.
Shot predominantly at night and only touching on romance in a pair of long montages, the core of the movie is the decline of addicts and drug culture within New Zealand. The star of the show has to be Naufahu as Pitbull, who is always highly amped and off his rocker throughout the film, the results are that the roided bulk dances around to EDM and threatening people with paranoid logic and guns which blows the drug dealer stereotype out of the water and adds something special to the soundtrack.
The story is solid, full of emotion to the point of it seeming biographical, but with some poor acting and questionable production the film is lacking in some areas, but overall the impact is there, the story is gripping and pounds along with Pitbulls playlist.
R – Once Were Warriors (1994), Kawa (2010)
L – Selected New Zealand Movies, Drug Addiction Films,
5S – Calvin Tuteao