The Hekes' love is electric, violent and ultimately familiar: When Jake (Temuera Morrison) and his wife Beth (Rena Owen) sing the blissful ballad "Here Is My Heart," all their friends can see the passion crackling between them. But 18 years of marriage, five children and the frustrations of living on the dole in Auckland, New Zealand, leave their scars -- as do Jake's fists, when too much liquor primes the rage within him. Why, then, has "Once Were Warriors" become New Zealand's all-time homemade hit? TIME critic Richard Corliss says director Lee Tamahori's film combines "toxic love" with "the lure of ethnographic exoticism." The characters are Maori, dispossessed chieftains and princesses now confined to gray city slums. "The film is a social tragedy, observed in love and pain," Corliss says. "'By the end, 'Once Were Warriors' has left an ache in your heart, a hole in your gut."