Summary: A culturally rich, but not entirely convincing movie.
The Dark Horse is a movie is based on the true story of Genesis Potene, a Maori man with bi-polar disorder who sets up a chess club for kids to avoid having them get involved with gangs and crime in Gisborne, New Zealand.
The movie features many rich cultural tropes we see in other New Zealand movies such as Once Were Warriors, Boy, or Whale Rider, such as a waiata, Maori mythology, gangs and gang violence and meth use.
From a cultural standpoint, this movie can be a good watch to experience this culture that one otherwise wouldn’t see in an American or British movie.
However, as an actual movie, the movie relies plot devices and is never convincing or immersive enough for us to forget that we’re watching a movie or to think that these are real characters.
While violence is a significant feature in the film, its portrayal is, intentionally I imagine, not graphic- using several cut away shots to achieve this.
Overall: A good movie for a cultural experience, but is by no means a remarkably good movie.
Here is a video featuring the real Genesis Potene: