Savage

Chances are if you start off life in a rough way then things will not go well. Here is a film which is based on the true stories of New Zealand street gangs over the course of 30 years. How a young boy becomes a violent member of a gang.

Now, do not go into this expecting Once Were Warriors. It is definitely not of that calibre. But it isn’t awful either. The backstory of how a young boy, who was big hearted, ends up in a gang.

What brings people to exist on the fringes of society can be different. Some are attempting to find a group they can fit in with while others are just trying to find somewhere to survive.

Starting from the time he was young Danny (Jake Ryan – The Great Gatsby – 2013, Out of the Shadows) was dealing with existing in a dangerous place. He and his siblings pretty much had to take care of themselves. They got little to no parental guidance at home. Danny was in a vulnerable position.

When stealing food to eat he is picked up by the cops and put in the care system. There he meets Moses (John Tui – Battleship, Solo: A Star Wars Story), they team up in jail to watch each other’s backs. Once out they were out they joined the Savages.

From a young age he turned towards a gang for what he was missing from his family. He found a place he could belong and he was wanted. Where those who preyed on vulnerable youth indoctrinated them into the gang culture. Soon he was an enforcer for the gang and became known as Damage.

Gang culture is not a simple thing. It is nuanced and layered, with no one’s story being the same as the next person’s. This is part of Sam Kelly’s (first feature film) film about New Zealand gangs. While there is plenty of violence and other things you would expect from a gang flick there is also a “softer” side here. That gives the film a realistic feel to it. Damage is not just a tough bad guy who breaks heads. He is also one who falls for a woman and still wants to be a part of his real family. Will have you thinking about how you have stereotyped people of this sort.

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