Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and On Demand from writer/director Lee Tamahori, Shane Danielsen and Magnet Releasing comes a story of preacher vs. a tribe with THE CONVERT.

It is 1830 and Thomas Munro (Guy Pearce) is a preacher who has come across the seas to a New Zealand settlement in the town of Epworth to bring spiritual leadership. Almost immediately he comes face to face with the brutality of a war between the Māori tribes. As one village is being destroyed, Munroe steps in to offer his horse in exchange for the life of Māori villager Rangimai (Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne).

Reaching the town of Epworth, Munroe soon realizes that not only is there a war between the tribes, but also between the settlers and anyone who is not them! Rangiami’s presence isn’t welcome no matter how much he tries to assimilate her. Munroe is befriended by Charlotte (Jacqueline McKenzie) who also becomes acquainted with Rangimai. Attempting to understand the conflict between Maianui (Antonio Te Maioha) and Akatarewa (Lawrence Makoare), Munroe just wants the death to end.

But, if there is to be a war, Munroe knows what side he will chose and it will bring a conclusion that is surprising!

Pearce takes on the role of Munroe and, of playing the lead character, the actor says, “Munro has come from the other side of the world to be the preacher in this town that is being set up. But there’s clearly a world that has existed for many years prior to white folk arriving, and the way in which different cultures try and work together… the fragility of that and the precariousness of that is something that I find fascinating,” says Pearce. “I thought the script was immediately poignant and realistic and quite profound. And knowing that Lee was going to be making this, I just knew that there was a tenderness and an intelligence to it that perhaps others wouldn’t bring.”

Ngatai-Melbourne as Rangimai is a woman struggling with the grief of death and the forced attempt to understand the colonists. It is her friendship with Charlotte that makes things bearable yet there will come a time when there is no choice but to fight. Ngatai-Melbourne gives a fierce performance of a woman who knows the pride of her tribe and will do anything to fight for it. She is stunning in this role and had me all in to her character from moment one. Ngatai-Melbourne is a Māori storyteller who is of Ngāti Porou and Ngai Tūhoe descent

Maioha and Makoare as the tribal leaders are equally as fierce as Rangimai, but one has no problem attempting to use all brutal methods possible to force power and subservience. Yes, their world is brutal but, to my way of thinking, no more brutal than other cultures who fight in a war.

Other cast include Madeleine McCarthy as Bethany, Renee Lyons as Jane Beauchamp, Duane Evans Jr. as Pahirua, Jack Barry as Harris, Jared Turner as Castor Samuels, Dean O’Gorman as Kedgley and Te Kohe Tuhaka.

Magnet Releasing is a part of Magnolia Pictures that specializes in films from the vanguard of horror, action, comedy, and Asian cinema. It is also the home of classics like Tomas Alfredson’s LET THE RIGHT ON IN, Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, Andre Ovredal’s TROLLHUNTER, Neil Marshall’s sword and sandals bloodbath CENTURION and Tony Jaa’s ONG BAK trilogy. Recent released include the terrifying anthologies V/H/S and V/H/S/2, Xan Cassavette’s stylish vampire film KISS OF THE DAMNED, and the sci-fi thriller THE LAST DAYS ON MARS. Upcoming films include Ti West’s THE SACRAMENT and to find out more of what is to come please visit

Tamahori says that Munro in THE CONVERT is “a humanist and a naturalist,” adding: “He is more interested in the world as it is, and he’s a man escaping his past, not really a man of God. He’s joined the Church Missionary Society to go as far away from Europe and his nightmares as possible. He thinks that coming to the farthest end of the planet will solve his problems, but it won’t.” 

Keeping the location down to a minimum allows the viewer to really get into the storyline and the cinematography is as nicely brutal as one would expect of the 19th century. The cast brings out the characters to the point that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I admit to loving period pieces of all kinds and having the chance to explore this particular era in time of the Māori tribe is captivating.

Director Tamahori began to research the history of the Church Missionary Society enterprise in New Zealand, including members Henry Williams and Samuel Marsden. “One of them had been a soldier in the British Army,” says Tamahori. “He had a life before the Church Missionary Society, so I dived into that as a concept for our lead character and he became more realistic.”

That realism is what makes THE COVERT a beautifully dark and brutal film of two worlds at a time where one group is miserable so they make everyone else miserable with their prejudices and another group that seeks power through destruction. That’s all part of the history of our world.

In the end – a fight for peace and a heart at war!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.