Synopsis by Tom Wiener
Along with Once Were Warriors, Broken English effectively captures contemporary New Zealand as a society in transition. Broken English dramatizes how the effect of immigration to the cities of New Zealand by both its native peoples, the Maoris, and Europeans seeking refuge from political persecution has not produced a harmonious melting pot. Ivan (Rade Serbedzija) is an embittered Croatian who fled to his wife's native Aukland when war broke out in Bosnia. Brooding over TV news reports on what is happening to his homeland (and displaying more than a little guilt over his flight from there), Ivan lashes out at anyone outside of his insulated Croatian community, including his gentle Maori neighbors. His drug-running business allows him a comfortable lifestyle, but he's still irritated that his young adult daughters won't mind him. The eldest, Nina (Aleksandra Vujcic), is a waitress who takes up with a colleague, a Maori cook named Eddie (Julian "Sonny" Arahanga, who also appeared in Once Were Warriors), in part because he's attractive but also to tweak her father. Complicating matters is an arranged marriage Nina has agreed to with a Chinese immigrant colleague at the restaurant; he's willing to pay her 16,000 dollars just to make his residency legal, so he can be with his girlfriend, Clara. Originally rated NC-17 for an energetic but hardly explicit sex scene between Nina and Eddie, the film was later edited to earn an "R" rating.
culture-clash, daughter, drug-dealer, Maori, marriage-arranged, New-Zealand, Croatia