Maka (John-Paul Foliaki) and his best mate Veni (Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi) are massive fans of all things rugby. When it is announced that their town will be hosting the ultimate Rugby World Cup game of Tonga vs. France, the pair will do anything to make sure they can attend the game along with their church youth group, who are all die-hard passionate fans.
However, no matter what Maka and Veni do to try and get tickets, things don’t work out. Maka desperately preaches at the local church, attempting to raise money. Desperately buying tickets from a local gangster only causes more problems. Things change when Maka watches a game of Rugby on TV and gets a wild idea. He, Veni, his local youth group, and church members can all come together to form a brass band that will serve as entertainment at the game. If approved, Maka and his friends will also be given free front-row seats to the game. However, there’s just one issue- Maka, and his mates have no clue about music or marching in a band. How hard could it be to teach a group to play music while marching?
Red, White & Brass is, in fact, based on a true story, and it’s quite a story. At first, it’s evident that Maka and his mates want to do anything to get tickets to the game. On top of Maka trying to get creative, other factors come into play that makes this film both dramatic, hard-hitting and emotionally touching, and light-heartedly humorous. Not only do we see our leads try and learn to play music and march, but we also see the doubt and negativity they receive from people within the community (and those closest to them) who fear Maka and his friends standing in front of the entire world could be downright embarrassing for Tonga and the local church.
John-Paul Foliaki as Maka, the film’s lead, is excellent. He’s energetic and fast-paced with his movements and lines of dialogue. The character is so much fun as he interacts with others, delivering many fun and outrageous lines. But to my amazement, he’s also a character who isn’t perfect, particularly in his leadership and responsibility at the beginning of the film. Maka’s character manages to bring heartfelt moments to life, more so when dealing with his family or fears of letting others down.
Overall, this is a wholesome family feature with a touching and heartwarming true story. I laughed a lot and found myself emotionally impacted by the film’s themes and messages, particularly during the finale. The pacing here is fast and snappy, and the plot heads straight to the point of the story without ever slowing down or feeling boring. It’s lively and highly entertaining, with a heartfelt journey that packs in many great themes and messages, making it perfect to be viewed by all ages.