An invigorating, uplifting and occasionally heartbreaking Kiwi success story, this love letter to South Auckland's cultural power is essential viewing for all New Zealanders.
From humble origins to culture-dominating success, the story of Dawn Raid Entertainment is well-primed for a big screen documentary, and Oscar Kightley's vibrant telling does a great job of platforming the various artists and characters involved.
Co-founders Andy Murnane and Danny "Brotha D" Leaosavai'i co-founded Dawn Raid in Papatoetoe at the end of the last century, dropping out of a business course to devote all their time and energy to the fledgling label. That they originally made most of their money from the clothing line side of the business speaks to how in step with the culture they were.
Success wasn't overnight, but over time acts such as Adeaze, the Deceptikonz and Aaradhna would lead the New Zealand R'n'B and hip hop scenes. The label had some troubles along the way, and the ups and downs of almost failures and regained power give the film a real rollercoaster quality.
New Zealand culture has always benefitted more from the contributions of its Pacific Island inhabitants than they are generally ever given credit for, so it's really nice to see a film that so emphatically demonstrates just how much we gain from this part of our community. The Papatoetoe-specific qualities on display here texture the film to great effect – it's hard not to simply beam with pride.
Then there's all the needle drops – this is fantastic showcase for innumerable Dawn Raid bangers. Although the film ends on a high note with the global success of Savage's Swing (after being featured in Knocked Up), more recent history is almost ignored. But Kightley makes a strong argument for the continued relevance and re-emergence of Dawn Raid as a cultural force.
Cast: Andy Murnane, Danny "Brotha D" Leaosavai'i, Savage, Mareko, Aaradhna
Director: Oscar Kightley
Running time: 98 minutes
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: Fists will be pumped – don't miss this absolute winner.