By Mary Makarushka
Updated September 22, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Everything about Jake Heke (Morrison) is as hard as his cinderblock-square head: his muscles, his drinking, the way he loves his wife, Beth (Owen) — and the way he beats her. Their Maori homeland is a distant vision offshore, and the jagged edges of life in urban New Zealand are scraping away at their three oldest children, turning them toward juvenile detention, gangs, and hopelessness. You may need to fast-forward through the most violent scenes, but don’t stop watching altogether. Once Were Warriors will leave a mark on you as indelible as the men’s mesmerizing blue tattoos. A-