Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale Blu-ray l DVD
DIRECTOR: Wei Te-Sheng
WRITER: Wei Te-Sheng
STARRING: Lin Ching-Tai, Masanobu Ando, Umin Boya, Vivian Hsu, Da-Ching, Chi-Wei Cheng, Sabu Kawahara, Akira Hibino, Mei-ling Lo, Michio Hayashida, Yi-Fan Hsu, Yuichi Kimura, Minoru Matsumoto, Bowkeh Kowsang, Kenji Kasai, Yoshitaka Ishizuka, Ma Ju-lung, Junji Kumagai, Jyunichi Haruta, Hiroshi Noguchi
Well Go USA
RELEASE DATE: August 7, 2012
Historical epics about the small rising up against great forces to fight for their freedom and their own land and culture are not rare. Titles like Braveheart and The Last Samurai jump to mind. But they’re also movies that don’t get old, and so long as there’s a new story to tell, people will be there to hear it.
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale is one such story, one that’s not all that well known. The most expensive Taiwanese film ever made, it follows the native tribes of the island of Taiwan who are considered savages by outsiders because of their headhunting traditions, including the Japanese, who come in hoping to mine the land of its many resources after the island is ceded to them in 1895 via a treaty with China.
Because the Japanese are so powerful, the natives are soon overtaken and have little choice but to give in and deal with their new lives. But their true beliefs and animalistic nature still boils deep within them, and it’s only a matter of time before they rise up—along with other rival tribes—to try and get the land of their ancestors back under their control.
Warriors of the Rainbow is available in two versions, the 140-minute domestic version linked above and a mammoth 270-minute international version (Blu-ray, DVD). I was curious to see the 270-minute giant of a film, but, having watched the former, I’m glad I didn’t start with it (though I may be interested in checking out now that I’ve seen the shorter version). The movie is an acquired taste, for sure, and the pacing can be unstable, most likely because so much had to be cut to trim it down to this length.
It can be hard to follow at first—possibly because of the subtitles and trying to keep up with what exactly is going on and who’s who—but it all starts to make sense eventually. I would have probably been better off reading a synopsis or something before watching, but I try to know as little as possible about a movie going in. I also went back after finishing the movie and ended up re-watching the first hour or so and that helped bring it all together better. There’s so many characters and so much going on that you can easily miss a lot the first time through.
After getting familiar with what was going on and who was who, Warriors of the Rainbow was a movie I enjoyed quite a bit as a fan of historical epics. Anything that examines cultures of another place and another time have always greatly appealed to me, and when these cultures and times are presented with beautiful music and cinematography, as well as strong acting, it’s hard not appreciate the story being told. It’s not a movie I see myself watching many times, but it is one very much worth seeing at least once or twice if you’re into these types of films. And if you can stomach some pretty graphic violence and one of the most depressing scenes I’ve seen in a movie…ever.
I can’t say you should run out and purchase the movie, but if it sounds like something you’d be into and the trailer below appeals to you, it’s worth at least renting first and seeing how things go.
There’s not a ton of special features included on the Blu-ray, but there is the usual making of and behind-the-scenes featurettes, as well as a look of the makeup and visual effects used in the movie.
The making of featurette is cool because it looks at director’s long road to making the movie. He was in pre-production way back in 2003, but decided to make another film, Cape No. 7, first because Seediq Bale was so massive it was hard to secure the funding and such to make it happen. The rest of the features play after the first concludes and they all kind of blend together to make one big feature.