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Savage (18)

Cast: Jake Ryan, Chelsie Preston Crayford, John Tui
Genre: Thriller
Author(s): Sam Kelly
Director: Sam Kelly
Release Date: 11/09/2020 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 100mins
Country: NZ
Year: 2019

Danny, the heavily tattooed sergeant of street gang president Moses, takes a hammer to the hand of gang member Dice for failing to pay his dues. The bone-crunching rebuke is also a warning shot across the bow of Moses' sworn rival Tug, who is sowing seeds of discontent to stage a coup. As tensions escalate, banker's daughter Flo challenges Danny's snarling hard man act behind closed doors. His inability to meet her demand for tenderness sparks a patchwork of pain-soaked flashbacks.


 

LondonNet Film Review
100% Wolf (PG)

The families we make are sometimes healthier and more supportive than the ones we are born into. Writer-director Sam Kelly delivers that harsh lesson with teeth bared in the unflinchingly brutal drama Savage. Divided into three bleak and blood-spattered chapters – childhood (1965), adolescence (1972) and adulthood (1989) – Kelly’s film exposes the fraternal bonds and toxic masculinity of New Zealand gang culture with repeated gut punches…

His script shares a few obvious chromosomes of creativity with Lee Tamahori’s award-winning 1994 drama Once Were Warriors and the long-running American TV series Sons Of Anarchy. However, Savage is informed by true stories of gang culture on the North Island, where the dispossessed and alienated – some products of the care system – find camaraderie and a sense of belonging in the cultural and economic divide between neighbouring white and Maori communities. Jake Ryan and John Tui are well matched as battle-scarred brothers in gang warfare, whose reign may be coming to an end after almost 25 years of stone-faced solidarity.

Blood flows freely from the opening image of Danny (Ryan), the heavily tattooed sergeant of street gang president Moses (Tui), taking a hammer to the hand of gang member Dice (Dominic Ona-Ariki) for failing to pay his dues. The bone-crunching rebuke is also a warning shot across the bow of Moses’ sworn rival Tug (Alex Raivaru), who is sowing seeds of discontent to stage a coup. As tensions escalate, banker’s daughter Flo (Chelsie Preston Crayford) challenges Danny’s snarling hard man act behind closed doors. His inability to meet her demand for tenderness sparks a patchwork of pain-soaked flashbacks.

As a young boy in 1965, Danny (Olly Presling) fails to protect his mother (Renee Lyons) and siblings from a bullying, devoutly religious father (Matthew Sunderland). Danny is sent to borstal where he endures repeated physical and sexual abuse at the hands of staff. “We’ll look after each other, me and you,” pledges roommate Moses (Lotima Pome’e). Seven years later, Danny (James Matamua) and Moses (Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson) angrily form their gang, the Savages, putting them on a collision course with a rival posse that has attracted Danny’s brother Liam (Jack William Parker). Sifting through these memories, Danny reconsiders his position as enforcer. “If you quit, you’re gonna take me down with you,” snarls Moses.

Savage unapologetically lives up to its title from the opening scene and loudly demands our attention as Danny and Moses’ shared history comes into queasy focus. Ryan, Tui and a gifted young cast simmer with rage. Kelly doesn’t pull his punches either with graphic displays of on-screen intimidation, which fully warrant the 18 certificate. The threat of violence hangs in the air like a foul stench, demanding we hold our breath until the narrative reaches its howling crescendo.

– Kim Hu


London Cinemas Showing Savage


From: Friday 15th January
To: Thursday 21st January

No cinema infomation at the moment

From: Friday 22nd January
To: Thursday 28th January

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UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Savage


From: Friday 15th January
To: Thursday 21st January

No cinema infomation at the moment

From: Friday 22nd January
To: Thursday 28th January

No cinema infomation at the moment