Related Articles: Movies, All

End of the Spear

Let The Healing Begin

In the powerful opening sequence of End of the Spear, young Mincayani of the Ecuadorian rain forest tribe Waodani wakes with a start as a neighboring tribe attacks his camp, savagely killing friends and family members. It is at a young age that Mincayani learns that life or death revolves around the end of a spear. It is with this lesson that Mincayani (Louie Leonardo) grows into a savage and resolute warrior.

The aptly name "Saint" family is comprised of missionaries who live near the rain forest where the Waodani tribe resides with the hope of connecting with the Waodani before the government elects to wipe them out wholesale. Tragedy strikes the Saint family when Nate Saint (Chad Allen) is killed in a failed attempt to connect with the tribe.

Director Jim Hanon would seem the most appropriate choice for a film like End of the Spear given his affinity for tales of missionaries martyred at the hands of "savages". His previous effort, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, covered very similar territory. Unfortunately, Hanon missteps at a few critical junctures and the damage almost completely derails the film.

It is established prior to Nate's tragic death that his sister is well versed in the language used by the Waodani. Yet Nate and his missionaries travel into the camp of a tribe, from which no one has returned, without spending so much as a day with the only woman in Ecuador who could help them communicate with the Waodani. It makes their feeble attempts at communicating with the Waodani laughable and their death feel inevitable.

Secondly, the tone Hanon strikes throughout End of the Spear is saccharine, heavy handed, and melodramatic. We know how dire the situation, we know how dangerous the Waodani are, and we know what's at stake, but rather than opting for subtlety, Hanon bludgeons us with this information.

Even more troubling is just how easily the remaining members of the Saint clan wantonly throw themselves in harm's way after the death of Nate in an effort to redeem (convert?) the Waodani. It seems this is a family that just has a gift for martyring themselves. While this may have been faithful to the actual story, this would have been a wonderful opportunity for Jim Hanon to take some creative liberties.

On the upside, Louie Leonardo gives a powerful performance as tribe leader, Mincayani. Tormented by his past and all too quick to throw a spear, Mincayani is less a warrior and more of a force of nature in End of the Spear. Leonardo lends an intensity to Mincayani that jumps off the screen.

Louie Leonardo's striking performance aside, there isn't much else in End of the Spear to recommend. The revelation at the end of the film fails to inspire and the result of said revelation is no real surprise. The most compelling part of the film takes place during the credits in which we see the real Steve Saint (Nate's son) and Mincayani.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars