One of the best films yet to emerge from the budding New Zealand cinema, UTU (Maori for "retribution") deals with the British colonial presence on the islands in the 1870s. Te Wheke (Anzac Wallace) is a Maori in the service of the British army as a scout and guide. One day, while going
about his scouting duties, he comes across a village that the British have wiped out in a massacre. It is Wheke's own village, and he then deserts the British to seek revenge against them. With a small group of similarly angry renegades, he launches a campaign of terror and murder against the
British. When they attack an isolated farm, murdering the woman of the house and burning it to the ground, Williamson (Bruno Lawrence) also takes up the search for revenge. Wallace, his face covered with ritual tattoos, is a superb actor, and his conversion from loyal British subject to killer is
quite believable. Lawrence, the star of most of the successful films to come from New Zealand, is similarly excellent as he is driven to revenge for the same reasons. The most expensive film in New Zealand's history, UTU was a major success at home and abroad.
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