It’s sometimes funny how filmmakers’ careers play out, and how the hand of fortune can give them a boost or a brush-off. Take Lee Tamahori: This Kiwi director had a powerhouse of a breakthrough film with “Once Were Warriors,” an unflinching tale of alcoholism and revenge set in Auckland’s Maori community, in 1994. The man was clearly a talent, but nobody knew what to do with him. Hollywood plucked him out of New Zealand and put him to work on a number of journeyman projects, ranging from neo-noir (“Mulholland Falls”) to a Bond film (“Die Another Day”), all of which were competent but rather ordinary affairs.

Tamahori had hit the level of doing Nicholas Cage pay-the-rent movies (“Next”) by the time he landed “The Devil’s Double,” easily his best work since “Warriors.” Why Tamahori was picked after this screenplay had passed through so many others’ hands I don’t know, but the film’s producers clearly knew the man’s strength. Much of the success of “Once Were Warriors” lay in Tamahori’s ability to draw a searingly frightening performance out of Temuera Morrison as an alternately smiling or snarling alcoholic wife-beater. Once seen, never forgotten, that one.

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