Friday, March 22, 2013

701. UTU (1983)

Running Time: 118 minutes
Directed By: Geoff Murphy
Written By: Keith Aberdein, Geoff Murphy
Main Cast: Anzac Wallace, Bruno Lawrence, Tim Elliott, Kelly Johnson, Wi Kuki Kaa
Click here to view the trailer


Once again my frequent commenter Ray steps in with another bit of help from the Kingdom that is United and a VHS copy of "Utu" - a film which I previously could not track down anywhere in the United States, at least within the limits of my resources. Thanks Ray!

Te Wheke (Wallace) is a Maori member of the British Army, who, when his British allies attack and burn down his native village, declares utu (or revenge) on them. Te Wheke forms a group of fellow Maori marauders and goes on the hunt, picking off members of the British Army. The film is told in flashback, from the point of Te Wheke's trial, as he's already been captured. Utu is the main premise of the entire movie, as after Te Wheke starts killing whites and their families, they vow revenge of their own. THE BOOK makes note that the film plays out in episodic fashion and really that's true, as we get all sorts of characters introduced, all who's motivation is revenge. Revenge, revenge, revenge and yada yada yada, I'm really tired today (Seinfeld reference).

I mean, I hate to write up that short of a plot synopsis, but really that's it. That pretty much covers the basic premise of "Utu", this shabby movie that I didn't enjoy or find any aesthetic or memorable qualities in at all. Although, do you want to know the one redeeming quality about "Utu"? The one thing that MAY be the basis for it's consideration and ultimate inclusion into the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Book. Three words...


I'll wait while you pick up your jaw....

Yep. I can't make these things up folks; it's real and it's pretty freakin' awesome! As a matter of fact, the character of Williamson (the inventor and wielder of the QBS - Yeah, that's what I call it) is a pretty interesting, eccentric character, who was good for a few laughs and sudden bursts of interest onscreen. However, that wasn't quite enough to even get this film close to the average marker. Much like "Black Orpheus" this was just a film that flew by me, not unlike two ships passing in the night. I didn't care for it, it wasn't my cup of tea; all of those phrases and words that describe a movie as simply not for me. And sometimes folks, I can't really say much more than that. There wasn't one or two things that I pointed to and said "There, that's why I don't like this movie" - It simply didn't appeal to me and that's that.

RATING: 2.5/10  Hey, sometimes you've got to have a little fun with your reviews, especially when you're not entirely sure what to write and that's the category that "Utu" fell into.


March 22, 2013  8:21pm


  1. When film only needs a short synopsis.. that is all it needs...
    I'm not quite as harsh on it as you are.. but it certainly didn't rate as a winner for me either. I think the clash between tragedy and comic relief and tough guy 'look at the size of my gun' jarred a little.
    I think we were supposed to see Williamson in a certain light with his obsession with a killing device- and it's size, but it didn't work for me in that way.
    You will no dubt have gathered that I usualy pretty much of a politicaly Liberal person.. but... something with this one felt a bit like being beaten over the head with it. When the native person suffers a wrong, his revenge is noble,, meaningful and correct.. but Williamson's revenge (Emphasised by his use of the silly big gun)is portryed as vindictive and laughable.(Mind you, he actually gets to make that point himself once)

    1. And again Ray, I say thank you for letting me borrow this. Like it or not, I still needed to see it to complete my mission.


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