The dark horse

The dark horse is based on the real story of Genesis Potini (Cliff Curtis), a Maori man with bipolar disorder who overcomes this disorder by coaching underprivileged kids to play chess. His brother Ariki (Wayne Hapi) is the leader of a scary bike gang. Caught in the middle is Mana (James Rolleston), Ariki’s son. At only 14, he is being violently beaten up in order to join the gang. Mana develops a trusting relationship with his uncle, Genesis, who wants the boy to join the Eastern Knights youth chess club. Genesis is so confident about his pupils that he enrolls them into a competition. But there’s no way that Ariki is going to let Mana go. The worst thing you could say about a film is that it is predictable, and, unfortunately, The dark horse is. The saying “I saw that coming a mile ahead” is certainly true here. Especially towards the end where we are fed a bunch of clichés. The best part about the film were those scenes at the competition. The children’s love for the game is clearly and effectively shown. Although Cliff Curtis and James Rolleston give powerful performances, the heart the film are the kids from the chess club.

Quote… “Most of all I want chess to help them think about how they are behaving to be able to look at themselves the way they are looking at the chess board, and to make the correct adjustments.” Genesis Potini (1963 – 2011)

Rémi-Serge Gratton

The dark horse

Directed by:
James Napier Robertson

Screenplay by:
James Napier Robertson

Cliff Curtis
James Rolleston
Kirk Torrance
Wayne Hapi

124 min.

Rated 14A

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