Sometimes a trip to the movies can be an educational experience where you learn something about a period in history that you simply didn’t know the first thing about. Opening tomorrow here in Toronto exclusively at the Scotiabank theatre is an historical epic that was originally released in 2 parts but cut down to one for its North American release and is reported to be the most expensive film to ever come out of Taiwan. It’s time for “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale”.
Starring Lin-Ching Tai
Written & Directed by Te-Sheng Wei
“Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale” recounts an extraordinary though little known historical event from the 20th-century. During the 50-year long Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the remnants of the aboriginal tribes who first settled in the island lived in the central Taiwanese mountains. After decades of indignities, Mouna Rudo (Lin Ching-Tai), the fierce leader of one of the Seediq tribes, forges a coalition with other tribal leaders and plots a spectacular rebellion against the Japanese colonizers.
A couple of years back a similar approach was taken with the Chinese war epic “Red Cliff” taking the two movies and cutting them into one for North American audiences. It didn’t really work then and it doesn’t work now as parts of the film feel disjointed. Director Te-Sheng Wei in only his third feature film broke a cardinal rule in filmmaking because with very few exceptions it has never worked when a director edits his own film. Everything looked great and the action sequences were fairly effective despite the occasional poorly placed visual effect for dramatic purposes but the poor editing along with cutting over two hours out of the entire story made it feel a little disjointed. Legendary filmmaker John Woo does have an executive producer credit on the film and this film could have used his touch in several areas.
Lin Ching-Tai as tribal leader Mouna Rado did well enough in the lead role considering that this was his first ever film credit. Ultimately it was hard to generate any kind of connection to the characters in the film given the sheer volume of them all and the massive editing not allowing the viewer a chance to get invested in anyone they are seeing on screen.
At the end of the day “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale” was decent entry into the historical war epic genre, but the only thing that this hacked down version of the story really did for this viewer was make him wish he had seen the full version. There is a pretty good film in this story but I do suspect a lot of it got left on the cutting room floor.
2 out of 5 stars.
“Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale” opens tomorrow at the Scotiabank theatre here in Toronto; click here for a list of show times.
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