Jay Laga'aia, Uli Latukefu, Nathaniel Lees
Pacific Northwest Pictures
Join us after the screening at 11:00pm for a live Q&A with Director Kiel McNaughton, Producer Kerry Warkia and Actor Uli Latukefu
When Fritz was a kid, his pro-wrestler father Baron To’a was the stuff of legend, the pride of his New Zealand Tongan community. But those days, and To’a himself, are long gone. Begrudgingly returning from his high-speed Australian business life to expedite the sale of his childhood home, Fritz finds his old neighbourhood changed. A crooked cop harasses the neighbours. Wayward youths steal his uncle Otto’s lawnmower. Worst of all, his father’s championship belt has been appropriated by the “Pig Hunters” gang that rules over everyone on the street. Fritz strives valiantly to apply buzzwordy corporate psychology to smalltime gangland negotiations and even hand-to-hand combat, but he’ll have to reconnect with his roots and rethink his attitude if he wants to reclaim his family’s honour – and the championship title.
Following a strong run of Kiwi television, director Kiel McNaughton makes his feature debut with an action-comedy small in scale but big on stakes. Uli Latukefu (soon to appear in Taika Waititi’s NEXT GOAL WINS) gives a charismatic turn as Fritz, supported by a talented Polynesian cast (including THE MATRIX RELOADED’s Nathaniel Lees and ATTACK OF THE CLONES’ Jay Laga’aia) that delivers comedy and pathos in a seamless blend of English and Tongan. While the hard-hitting fight choreography draws inspiration from pro wrestling and martial arts movies, it’s firmly grounded in its suburban setting, resulting in setpieces that celebrate the Pacific Island experience just as much as the script does. Balancing wacky hijinks, thoughtful family drama, and kickass action through low-key Kiwi charm, THE LEGEND OF BARON TO’A brings slick action-movie filmmaking to a wee South Auckland cul-de-sac. – Andrew Todd