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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
A film that's bursting with enthusiasm and honesty from every pore, Red, White & Brass is a New Zealand true story that deserves to be embraced, warts and all.
Set in 2011, the movie tells the tale of a big-hearted Tongan rugby enthusiast, Maka, who chances upon a hairbrained scheme when he fails to get tickets for the Rugby World Cup.
Desperate to see Tonga take on their opposition, Maka promises those running the tournament he can provide a Tongan marching band for the pre-game entertainment. But with no instruments, no band and little to no hope of pulling it together in four weeks' time, Maka may have bitten off more than he can chew.
It's very easy to be cynical about an underdog film like Red, White & Brass.
But what emanates from the screen is nothing but passion and energy, which overcomes some of the first time director Fepulea’i's work. Mixing both the feelgood vibe of the likes of The Full Monty and tacking in an element of Ted Lasso's mantra of Believe, Red, White & Brass actually succeeds in its honest intentions.
Foliaki is the energy burst Maka needs to carry off the story and his enthusiasm is infectious, even when carrying out the most obvious of moments and the corniest of gags. The rest of his support are all perfectly fine, and do what's needed to turn this business-like movie around.
It all ends up predictably as you'd expect, but what may catch you off guard is just how delightfully it's all doled out. Some parts of the story need a leap of faith, but what it lacks in parts, Red, White & Brass more than makes up for in heart, a sense of pride and a real feelgood film - its familiarity is no bad thing here and may actually end up being its secret weapon.