The Ground We Won Film Review

Film Review by Wal Reid
The Ground We Won

The Premise
The Ground We Won is a profoundly authentic, slice of life film about the challenges and joys of manhood, as seen through the rites and rituals of a rural New Zealand rugby club. With great bawdiness and backbone, an eclectic team of farmers strive to redeem themselves from a long run of bitter losses. In the face of the hefty demands of farming and fatherhood, the Saturday game becomes the focus of the men’s passions and the ground on which their worth is proved.

The Review
I bet there were a lot of people who googled to see where Reporoa was after seeing the Chris Pryor & Miriam Smith rural heartland documentary.  It’s a winner.  The Country Calendar style ‘fly on the wall’ film follows the Reporoa rugby team during their playing  season, it’s a reality TV style drama focusing on individual players that is played out before audiences’ eyes, warts and all.  Why a movie of this subject nature wasn’t thought of before is unfathomable, however the rural sentiment of rustic New Zealand coupled with our national sport seems to have hit a winning formula for our latest documentary darling?

The Ground We Won is Pryor & Smith’s How Far Is Heaven latest outing and was filmed in the small Bay of Plenty town where Pryor & Smith both mingled among the locals for a year, earning their trust in bringing their story to the silver screen.  The film relies on the small town rural community and its rugby heroes who names sound like they’ve come straight out of a Beano comic: Slug, Turbo, Peanut, Broomy are all introduced to the audience at various places within the movie, a bonding of sorts as the story unfolds.

Kelvin (Slug) is one of the more opinionated parent/players in the film, although his parenting exploits would be frowned upon in ‘poncey’ Auckland his scenes in the movie bringing up his two boys are both light-hearted and candid.  Peanut is the young man making his mark on the world, he one day aspires to owning his own share milking business however before then is faced with a boxing tournament (the dialogue between him and his trainer is hilarious), scoring girls and getting the team getting back on top. Some of the best moments of the film are when the team play away singing in the bus, getting the ‘Ed Sheeran’ looking English guy (whose name is never mentioned only as ‘Pom’) rotten drunk and team captain Broomy forever motivating and pulling the troops together before and post-match is enjoyable to watch, it’s a lifestyle that’s embedded in their blood and makes for compelling viewing.

New Zealand is fast becoming a fertile breeding ground for quality documentary, in recent times we’ve seen Bryn Evan’s Hip Hop-eration or the Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls playing out on the world stage at different film festivals around the world, The Ground We Won is no different and would have no trouble appealing to international markets.  The film’s premise is simple without complicating itself or alienating the viewer, Chris Pryor’s black & white vision coupled with David Long’s haunting soundtrack add to the subtle nuances, breathing life into the film.


The Verdict
Damn, we make some good docos and it’s with approval we can say ‘a job well done’.  The Ground We Won is a delightful voyeuristic look into ritual rites of manhood while dishing up a big slice of Kiwiana

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 7th May 2015
Rating: M – Contains Offensive language, sexual references, nudity & content that may offend
Duration: 91 minutes 
Genre:  Documentary

Director: Christopher Pryor (How Far Is Heaven)