THE HAWAIIANS is the second half of Michener’s saga about Hawaii, and in many ways I found it a much more satisfying movie. The film follows the life of an adventurer and opportunist, Charlton Heston, as he tries to strike it rich in 18th century Hawaii. His primary concern is money and power and he is willing to do most anything to acquire it–such as sneaking off to the Caribbean to steal pineapples to transplant in Hawaii, exploit his workers and stomp on most anyone who got in his way.
At the same time, the story follows a Chinese woman (Tina Chen) that comes to work for Heston. She is the concubine of a Chinese man whose wife remained behind in China. Throughout the movie she is referred to by her biological children as “auntie” because she is not the official wife of the man (Mako). This is very sad, because she is devoted to him and when he contracts leprosy, she selflessly follows him to the hellhole island on Molokai to the leper colony. Somehow she survives and can rejoin her children, though the man dies of his disease. Once back, this polite and selfless woman begins to change to a hard-as-nails business woman.
Later in the story, a romance buds between Heston’s son and Chen’s daughter and both prospective in-laws have to learn to put aside their bigotry and learn to accept this relationship. In a way, it is a metaphor for the “new Hawaiians” of the 20th century.
The film has great action, acting and a story. Lots to hold your interest in this film.