The Dark Horse

March 28th, 2016


The Dark Horse

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Release Year: 2014

Rating: 7.8/10 ( voted)

Critic's Score: /100

Director: James Napier Robertson

Stars: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston, Kirk Torrance

An emotionally charged and inspiring drama about a man who searches for the courage to lead, despite his own adversities - finding purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the children in his community.

Cliff Curtis - Genesis
James Rolleston - Mana
Kirk Torrance - Noble
Miriama McDowell - Sandy
James Napier Robertson - Dave
Barry Te Hira - Mutt
Xavier Horan - Jedi
Wayne Hapi - Ariki
Lyel Timu - Rangimarie
Te Ahorangi Retimana-Martin - Rusty
Calae Hignett-Morgan - Piripi
Te Rua Rehu-Martin - Murray
Niwa Whatuira - Michael
Lionel Wellington - Rip
Wesley Broadfoot - Nathan

Taglines: Bravery is contagious


Official Website: Official Facebook | official site

Country: New Zealand

Language: English

Release Date: 3 Jan 2014

Filming Locations: New Zealand

Box Office Details

Budget: NZD 3,500,000 (estimated)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

At the request of writer/director James Napier Robertson, actor Cliff Curtis gained almost 60 pounds and stayed in character for the entirety of the shoot to portray Genesis. See more »

User Review


Rating: 10/10

I had the chance to see this film on the opening night of the 2014 New Zealand International Film Festival. The advance reviews from critics had been so unanimously high that I went in with pretty strong expectations, which can easily backfire when a film is unable to live up to the hype. I really thought that might be the case with this.

But, literally, from the first frame of this incredible film (which silenced everyone around me, it's such a stunning opening shot), I forgot all of that, and became completely utterly wonderfully immersed in the story and performances and everything that unraveled before my eyes over the next two hours.

The way that this film deals with chess, Maori mythology, mental illness, gangs, kids... and weaves them all together, is just so compelling. The way that it moves from tragedy to comedy, without it ever feeling forced... the performances from people that apparently have never acted before in their lives... It's really hard to believe and so impressive.

The reaction around me was also hard to believe. Throughout the film, people all over the theatre (myself included) were literally laughing, crying, applauding, gasping, cheering, weeping... And then at the end after the ENTIRE credits had rolled without anyone moving, there was a standing ovation from the ENTIRE audience - almost 2,500 people! Incredible. I haven't been part of something quite like that before.

The emotion of this film is so powerful, the craft on display is so strong, the directing, writing, acting, music, cinematography. Just sublime. I really was floored.

The person I attended with told me after wards they thought this could be the greatest NZ film they've ever seen. I recently heard the National Radio Review say a similar thing when they were reviewing it.

I would have to agree.

Simply stunning.


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