Review: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999)

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Director: Ian Mune | 108 minutes | drama | Actors: Temuera Morrison, Edna Stirling, Julian Arahanga, Nancy Brunning, Tahei Simpson, Rawiri Paratene, Rudolph Alford, Julian Arahanga, Rema Owen

More than four years after the New Zealand film “Once Were Warriors” (1994), the sequel came. “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?” Picks up where its predecessor left off. The film shows how the Heke family went on.

Like most sequels, this sequel is not as good as its predecessor. However, there is no question of a cheap way of beating money because this second part was written by the same author. Alan Duff, who wrote the novel on which “Once were warriors” was based, is also responsible for the story of this print. Duff took his time and that resulted in a gap of four years between the successor and the original. Unfortunately, the sequel lacks the punch that made the first film so powerful.

The movie starts with the death of Nig. The eldest son of Jake Heke has fled his parental home and has been admitted to a youth gang. A gang war took his life. His younger brother Sonny and a friend and Nig’s girlfriend seek revenge. By infiltrating a rival gang, the trio hopes to find justice through violence. The plan fails and slowly the three youngsters become involved in a hopeless situation in which aggression, abuse and disrupted relationships are the result. In desperation, they enlist the help of Jake. Meanwhile, Jake has started a new life with another woman and wanders aimlessly looking for booze and bar fights to pass the time. Slowly, Heke realizes that his life is very empty and that he is doing wrong. Strengthened by new friends and a new job, he is going to improve his life. Just then his son calls for help, for the characteristic violent performances that Jake has just renounced.

“What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?” Is also about violence. But not because of “hidden” violence such as domestic terror, gang wars are central to this drama. Director Ian Mune gives a realistic sketch of life in a gang, but the drama in the film is not as oppressive as in the print in which his film is a sequel. The subject has been done too often to stand out from the crowd, in short, there are better movies in this genre.

This is partly due to Duff’s story, but also to the interplay of the cast. The characters are not as engaging as in the predecessor. Furthermore, Mune has the bad luck that he has to introduce some new characters. That takes time and speeds up the print. Also, the movie should miss Rena Owen. The chemistry between her and Temuera Morrison was one of the strongest points of the first film. Unfortunately, Morrison himself has too little input in the print. The focus in this film is therefore clearly on the youth gang.
Unfortunately, the main characters are not equally interesting to keep the interest. In terms of new faces in the print, only the actress Nancy Brunning stands out. Her playing comes across as sincere and convincing and her character is a well-fleshed out character who gets caught between revenge and mourning.

“What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?” Turned out to be a nice film without the charm of the first film. The lack of an appealing cast of main characters and the lack of the ingredients that the predecessor did have, Maori culture, prevent the print from reaching a classic status.

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