Mt Zion

Mt Zion

(2013)

New Zealand drama starring Temuera Morrison and Australian Idol winner Stan Walker as Turei, a young musician attempting to win an audition to be the support act for Bob Marley’s 1979 concert in Auckland. Set amongst a family of contract potato pickers in Pukekohe, Mt Zion is described as a "family-oriented story in which Turei’s desperate ambition clashes with traditional whanau values, leading to an emotional showdown and powerful change."  This is the feature debut of writer/director Tearepa Kahi.

Flicks Review

With an ear for music and an eye for the landscape, Mt Zion starts New Zealand’s filmmaking year on a good note. It’s not going to boil up the country in the way Boy did, but this is a homegrown muso drama to be proud of.... More

Stan Walker does well portraying the daftly naïve Turei, a potato picker with a stupendous voice who dreams of being the opening act for Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Auckland concert. Though Walker’s range is limited (re: his acting, not his singing), his game is lifted significantly when onscreen with his superb bro-counsel co-stars – musician Troy Kingi, Shortland Streeter David Wikaira-Paul and ghost chips internaliser Darcy Ray Flavell-Hudson – whose group chemistry throbs with a naturally humorous vibrancy that pulsates throughout the film. Temuera Morrison is perfectly nuanced as Turei’s father, a ‘man of the land’ who uses his whanau-heavy morals to level his son’s increasingly self-indulgent aspirations.

The film delights in recreating 1979 Pukekohe, from the intimate low-income neighbourhoods to the terrible facial hair styling on the record producers' faces. Managing to romanticise the era without shamelessly over-glorifying it, writer-director Tearepa Kahi uses the beauty of the land as a contrast to a cultural lifestyle hit by the effects of urbanisation.

I wish the big confrontation near the end carried more weight, for it resolves in a way that feels far too subdued. Nevertheless, I commend Mt Zion for how it filters its by-the-numbers themes through the values of traditional Maori communities, producing something fresh and wholesome. And be prepared to hum those tunes days after you’ve left the cinema.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY Medz nobody

I genuinely enjoyed this film immensely because my husband did too, which was surprising. We went with friends of mixed races (my husband is an Arab) and were entertained right through. What Stan lacked in acting experience was effortlessly made up for when singing with David & Darcy making up for humor. Had a good laugh! Tem seemed in his own skin playing 'Dad'. Had a nostalgic reaction to the portrayal of family life back in the day when you knew your community better, unlike some today who... More don't know their neighbours names. Appreciated there wasnt any typical happy ending but rather a life lesson. Couldnt believe I still remembered some of those Maori songs from Primary School - and I'm not even Maori! Lol. Shows how totally underated local talent is. Congratulations on an awesome film. Will buy this on DVD as a keeper.Hide


BY Jamal nobody

Never thought I would walk out of any NZ film....especially a Maori one at that - halfway through watching it. Te Arepa Kahi is NOT a very good Director, Writer or Actor-Selector! He should just stick to his Maori TV Presenter role - to save face! Felt there were 2 Actors/Characters' - that were absolutely awful to watch and an embarrassing turn-off: "Turei's Mum" and "the wheelchair-bound Old man collecting money" - only reason I can think of why Mr Kahi selected them was because they were... More whanau from up North who wanted some "Easy money"! I give some kudos' to 1st time Film Actor Stan Walker and the rest of the main actors', considering their lines' were short, simple, trite and cliched. The plot came across as very weak and in parts' disjointed, also contributing to this faulty plot, - was the fact that Te Mangai Paho's involvement-criteria, - came into this film CONFIRMED MY WORST FEARS' - that sometimes the Reo CAN SPOIL a film's story. Reo in Maori films' is nothing new; and in many cases' can enhance it's appeal; but in Mr Kahi's example is a big "NO-NO"! My justification for an unfavorable review; 1/ When I went to the movies 90% of the viewers were Maori, and just barely a couple of Caucasians' to bring in the "Ethnic-Diversity" Factor, no Pacific Islanders', Indians' or Asians' (at the Movie counter in front of me - who were more interested in watching another Asian film remake of "The journey West") watching it - as to make it "broadly appealing". Finally 2/ Backed up by the fact this film hardly "cemented itself" at the top spot of the NZ Top 10 films 2013; was "knocked-down" to 3rd spot by the lame "A good day to die hard" - another John McClane Sequel - how sad is that "Bro"?Hide


It does follow a tried and tested formula and could have been just a vehicle for Stan Walker but is much more as it has a great cast, well scripted, acted and directed. I agree with others its likely to not get too much attention outside NZ but that will be their loss I think.


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