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‘Dawn Raid’ review: Entertaining hip-hop documentary

Dawn Raid is the type of rags-to-riches story that audiences love. Andy Murane and Tanielu Leaosavai’i (Brotha D) were to business school students who decided to start a hip-hop label. They started selling bootleg t-shirts, but before long were at the top the South Auckland music scene. With their meteoric success came big time problems, however. 

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The film sounds like most music documentaries, and in many ways it is. Director Oscar Knightley takes the best parts of the genre and presents a film about a topic few outside of Australia know about. Dawn Raid will draw in many just based on that. The film talks about the culture of the area and the influence of Dawn Raid Entertainment. 

Much of Dawn Raid is spent listening to Murane and Leaosavai’i. This is a great idea as both of them are charming and honest. Many similar films tend to fall into the trap of accentuating the positives while downplaying the negatives. That is never the case here as the subjects go all in on their story. 

Knightley is able to tie everything together, but there is still a feeling of “been there done that.” Dawn Raid has the archival clips and talking heads that are the standard tools of the trade. While things never get boring, it would have been nice to some changes to the norm – especially since Dawn Raid are all about going against norms. 

That does not prevent the documentary from being an entertaining one, however. Murane and Leaosavai’i are great storytellers and their journey is an interesting one. Dawn Raid is an entertaining film that may not surprise anyone with its presentation, but will impress them nonetheless.

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