Action Comedy

Fantasia Festival Review: ‘The Legend of Baron To’a’

September 3, 2020Ben MK

Living up to your parents' expectations can be daunting — but what if your dad was one of the greatest wrestlers your nation had ever seen? For Fritz (Uli Latukefu) in The Legend of Baron To'a, following in the footsteps of his late father has never been his thing, but when his old neighborhood needs his help, he'll have to man up and face the past head on.

As someone who prefers amicable resolutions over aggressive confrontations, the brainy and brawny Fritz has spent a lifetime trying to step out of the shadow of the great Baron To'a (John Tui), a wrestling champion who’s become nothing short of an icon for the Tongan people of New Zealand. But when a business deal requires him to sell the family home for seed capital, Fritz will have to return to the house he left behind so long ago and convince its current resident, his stubborn uncle Otto (Nathaniel Lees), first. When he arrives, however, Fritz finds more than he bargained for. And when his father's prized championship belt is stolen by members of a local gang called the Pig Hunters, Fritz will have to use his fists rather than his negotiation skills to get it back.

Directed by Kiel McNaughton, The Legend of Baron To'a is a definite crowd-pleaser, especially for fans of New Zealand cinema. It's Latukefu, though, who steals the show, channeling the charisma of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson through his performance and making a good case for why he should be Hollywood's next big action star.

The Legend of Baron To'a makes its North American premiere at the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 43 min.

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