Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (賽德克‧巴萊) is a 2011 Taiwanese historical drama epic film directed by Wei Te-Sheng (魏德聖) and produced by John Woo (吴宇森), based on the Wushe Incident in central Taiwan in 1930.
John Woo needs no introduction to movie buffs. Wei Te-Sheng is a rising star in the Taiwanese movie industry. His directorial debut, Cape No. 7 (海角七号) is the second top-selling film in Taiwan’s history and revived tourist interest in Taiwan’s Kenting region, which was featured in the movie.
Warriors of the Rainbow is divided into two parts; part 1 is called “太陽旗” (The Flag of Sun), and part 2 is called “彩虹橋” (The Bridge of Rainbow), both running at a total of up to four and half hours.
For international release, the film was cut to a two and a half hour single cut version.
I watched the original two parts movie while on a 17 hours flight return to and from Los Angeles – part 1 on my flight from Singapore and part 2 on my flight home from Los Angeles.
I love it!
The film depicts the Wushe Incident, which occurred near Cilai Mountain of Taiwan under Japanese rule. Mona Rudao, the movie protagonist, is the chief of Mahebu village of Seediq people.
With rage simmering over how the Japanese bullied his people over the years, Mona Rudao eventually led a group of 300 plus Seediq warriors against their Japanese oppressors.
Vastly outnumbered and with significantly poorer weapons, the Seediq warriors fought bravely to the end, facing the full might of the Japanese empire’s army.
The first part tells the story of a young Mona Rudao, respected and loved by his people for his bravery and hunting skills. It ended with the Seediq rebellion and slaughtering of over 130 Japanese folks.
The second part features the Japanese’s retribution and annihilation of Mona Rudao’s tribe.
Granted there were some pretty excessive violence and bloodshed; these were fundamental for the director to bring out the melancholic, yet gallant mood of tribal warfare.
The original music scores and soundtrack by Singaporean composer, Ricky Ho, were eerily memorable and haunting throughout the movie, adding more depth to the movie’s tribal elements.
The film was shown in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and was selected as a contender for nomination for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011 and was one of nine films shortlisted to advance to the next round of voting for nomination.
Warriors of the Rainbow is the most expensive production in Taiwanese cinema history and has also been compared to other tribal war movies like Braveheart (1995) and The Last of the Mohicans (1992) by the Taiwanese media.
I am not sure if this movie will be shown in Singapore or even whether if it will be shown in a single cut version or as two parts. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this movie as one of the must-watch Asian films for 2012!