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A Surprising Move from “The Dark Horse”

It’s easy to form a preconceived notion about The Dark Horse before it even begins. The film is based on a true story. It centres on Genesis Potini, a mentally ill chess prodigy. It involves a rag-tag group of underprivileged kids and a national tournament. There’s also a dark side to the film featuring a scary Maori biker gang and hints of a culture clash. Pick your movie cliche: a teacher learning more about himself as he teaches his students, an underdog sports story, a mental illness reclamation project. It’s all there and yet, The Dark Horse never quite feels rote.

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