The Hateful Eight ride into New Zealand

8:11 am on 21 January 2016

Film director Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to Kiwi stuntwoman Zoe Bell at the New Zealand premiere of his latest movie, The Hateful Eight, in Auckland on Wednesday night.

Samuel L Jackson in The Hateful Eight, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino

Samuel L Jackson in The Hateful Eight, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino Photo: Supplied

Tarantino spoke to the crowd at the Newmarket cinema before the movie began, and used the time to talk about his cinematic history with Bell.

Bell - whose role in his latest film is her most high-profile since she co-starred in Tarantino's Death Proof in 2007 - was an "amazing physical specimen", said Tarantino, and he had been throwing her through tables in the name of cinema since Kill Bill.

Bell admitted the role of Six Horse Judy in The Hateful Eight was one of her most difficult because she had to master the art of driving a six-horse wagon, and it was the first time she had showed up on a set without the confidence that she had totally nailed her task before filming even began.

But Tarantino said he had no worries about her abilities.

"I've thought that Zoe can do anything, going on 12-13 years now, and she's never proven me wrong."

Tarantino signed off before the movie started with the eternal film nerd plea to "turn your bloody cellphones off".

The Hateful Eight, starring Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins, opens nationwide tomorrow.

Director Quentin Tarantino (left) works with his cast on the set of The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino, left, works with his cast on the set of The Hateful Eight. Photo: Supplied

The Hateful Eight: RNZ's first-take review

As unpredictable as his films can be, you can always expect several distinctive things in a Quentin Tarantino movie, and most of them make an appearance in his new western The Hateful Eight.

Like most of his films, it's full of long scenes of dialogue ending in sudden and extremely gory violence, there are all sorts of cinematic tricks including sudden voiceover and his usual non-linear storytelling, and it has a killer ensemble cast.

His movies always bring out the best in Samuel L Jackson, who often sleepwalks through his roles, but always turns it on for Tarantino, with familiar faces like Tim Roth and Michael Madsen also doing some of their best work in years. Jennifer Jason Leigh gets her shot at a career revival with her steely-eyed and sweet-tongued Daisy, while Walton Goggins gets the part of his career in Sheriff Chris Mannix.

Largely set within the claustrophobic confines of a snowed-in waystation somewhere in a Wyoming winter, the film does feel incredibly stagey, as the characters try to figure out who is really who, and who might be trying to blow their brains out. And it's all filmed in glorious 70mm close-up, with a lens wide enough to capture every bead of cold sweat.

Unusually for a Tarantino film, it features a dynamite score from Italian maestro Ennio Morricone instead of a selection of bubblegum pop hits, although he still gets in the occasional modern tune. And while the film is headed for an inevitable bloodbath - and it gets very, very bloody - it's also gloriously optimistic for a Tarantino film.

Tarantino is one of the few modern directors to fearlessly tackle issues of race and corruption in American society, no matter how uncomfortable that gets, but, even though it is haunted by the ghosts of the Civil War, The Hateful Eight does offer a glimmer of hope for the American dream.

Much of the cast might be missing their heads by the end credits (don't worry, they mostly deserve it) but The Hateful Eight suggests that all the blood and misery won't last forever, and that everything might just turn out all right.

That's something you might not always see coming in a Tarantino movie.

Watch the trailer for The Hateful Eight here: