Ray Winstone plays an Afrikaner veteran of the Boer War named Arajan who travels to New Zealand in an attempt to begin a new life. Soon after arriving he is asked by the local British military – the same army who fought against him in South Africa – to use his tracking skills to help hunt down and capture Kereama, a Maori whaler (Temuera Morrison) who is accused of murdering a British soldier. A small band of soldiers and another local tracker set off in pursuit of Kereama.
At the intersection of a small river and the beach, both trackers have a differing of opinion, and Arajan goes it alone whilst the local tracker leads the soldiers the wrong way fro a day.
Arajan finally catches up to and captures Kereama, who turns out to be a slippery fish and manages to escape and capture Arajan who then manages to escape and recapture Kereama, until the British group catches them up.
Ray Winstone plays his character well, but the first impression of Morrison – when we find him rolling in the hay professing his love for a local working lady is one of head shaking wonderment, making you believe that Morrison has been reduced to b-grade acting and that Winstone must have owed somebody a big favour to want to play along side.
But when Arajan captures Kereama and we are presented with not only a physical game of cat and mouse, but also a near constant battle of the wits. Morrison coms to life with an energy that mingles with Winstone’s and brings the film from mediocre local b-grade drama to a compelling drama of two guys struggling with their own troubles in a sparring match that few movies would be able to replicate with such passion.
When the group of army boys catches up, the games are far from over and the film manages to end on a high, leaving the viewer grateful that they endured the slow and underperforming beginning.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read