This feature dramatises an ill-fated offensive that Kiwi soldiers undertook during World War I’s Gallipoli campaign. On 8 August 1915 the Wellington Battalion briefly seized Chunuk Bair, a pivotal peak overlooking the Dardanelles; they suffered huge losses. The film pitches the attack as a formative New Zealand nationhood moment, with Kiwi guts and resilience countered by inept, careless British generals, as much as their Turkish foes. Filmed on an Avalon set and the Wainuiomata coast, the story was based on Maurice Shadbolt’s classic play Once On Chunuk Bair.
And it doesn’t fudge on attributing blame – to the incompetence of British generals – for the blundering that saw 700 New Zealand lives lost… Fortunately it’s boosted by two very strong lead performances, from Kevin J Wilson and [UK actor] Robert Powell.– Reviewer Mark Knowles in The Dominion Sunday Times, 5 April 1992