Warriors of the Rainbow (Seediq Bale) (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 13-Dec-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-x 3 for other releases
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 275:14
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Wei Te-Sheng
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Lin Ching-tai
Masanobu Ando
Da-ching
Umin Boya
Yakau Kuhon
Lee Shih-chai
Hsu Yi-fan
Soda Voyu

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Ricky Ho


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Chinese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Chinese Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Chinese
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Under the 1895 treaty China turned over the island of Taiwan to the Japanese who started to exploit the timber resources in the mountains, bringing them into conflict with the indigenous clans, the Seediq Bale (“True man”), of the mountains. Warriors of the Rainbow (aka Seediq Bale) is the story of the destruction of the indigenous people, based on the events of the Wushe massacre that occurred in October 1930. Warriors of the Rainbow was filmed in two parts with a total running time of 275 minutes but was edited down to 154 minutes for release in the US domestic market. That version of the film has been released on Blu-ray in Australia and the USA. The Blu-ray reviewed here is the complete two part version; Seediq Bale Part I: Sun Flag and Seediq Bale Part II: Rainbow Bridge.

Seediq Bale Part I: Sun Flag (143:46)

     At the time of the Japanese take-over of Taiwan the various clans of the Seediq Bale were hunters, warriors and head-hunters, engaging in on-going inter-clan warfare. Seediq Bale quickly introduces the character of Mouna Rudo (Da-ching), a fearless hunter, aggressive warrior and the heir apparent of his clan in the area around Wushe. When the Japanese arrive in the mountains they suffer ambushes and deaths but the Seediq Bale are too busy fighting each other to unite against the invaders, and they are defeated, their villages captured, the men, including Mouna, made prisoner.

     Twenty years later, the Japanese have brought civilization to Wushe. There are schools and shops, a post office, a railway and telephone and head-hunting is banned. The Seediq Bale women work as domestic servants or wet nurses, the men have become timber workers, cutting down the trees that once formed part of their hunting grounds to build the Japanese towns. They are humiliated and work for a paltry wage, spending their wages on drink. Resentment is building, but Mouna (now played by Lin Ching-tai), has seen the military power of the Japanese and knows that to oppose them would mean the destruction of his clan so he tries to keep his sons Tado (Yakau Kuhon) and Baso (Lee Shih-chai) in check.

     Other Seediq men, such as the brothers Nomin (Hsu Yi-fan) and Nawi (Soda Voyu), have become policemen for the Japanese, believing that compromise is the best way for the clan to survive. While some of the Japanese are insensitive and have superior attitudes, calling the indigenous peoples savages, others including Genji Kojima (Masanobu Ando) try to understand the indigenous people; Kojima has in fact built up a good working relationship with Temu Walis (Umin Boya), the chief of another Seediq clan and old enemy of Mouna. But finally Mouna can restrain his young men no longer; he knows that action against the Japanese will result in all their deaths but he gives his blessing and his clan join with many of the other clans attacking the Japanese police stations and massacring the Japanese police, women and children at Wushe.

Seediq Bale Part II: Rainbow Bridge (131:28)

     Japanese retaliation involving soldiers, aircraft and artillery is not long in coming. Mouna knows that they cannot stand and fight, so the Seediq disappear into the mountains and forests, frequently ambushing pursuing Japanese columns. Kojima, whose family was killed in the massacre, enlists Temu and his warriors to help hunt the other Seediq, offering a bounty for each man, woman or child’s head. The new Japanese commander also orders the bombing of the forest with poison gas. With food and hiding places running out, Seediq women and children collude in a mass suicide, while the warriors gather for a final, decisive battle. Although they have some local success, the Japanese are too many, and too well equipped, and the Seediq Bale are defeated, the culture dead, their remnants scattered for ever.

     Warriors of the Rainbow is epic filmmaking and an epic story by Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng. There are many gripping and bloody battles and ambushes in the forest, in gorges in the mountains, in creeks and on hills using machetes, spears, rifles, machine guns, grenades, artillery, mortars and aircraft, with beheadings, severed limbs and sprays of blood, the burning of villages and a massacre in the fog. But the longer running time of this full version of the film allows the director more time to show the village life of the Seediq Bale and to develop a number of the characters. Perhaps some of the most interesting characters are the two Seediq Bale brothers who become Japanese policemen to try to give their children a future and are forced to choose sides, resulting in a tragedy. Also good is the Japanese man Kojima, who is well-meaning and caring until his family is massacred, while Mouna, the man at the centre of the story, is forced by circumstances to witness the destruction of his people and their way of life.

     Indeed, the focus of Warriors of the Rainbow is the destruction of an indigenous people and their culture. Not that the Seediq Bale are exemplary, caring people or noble savages; they are brutal head-hunters enjoying bloody inter-clan warfare for trophies and reputation when the Japanese come, and they remain divided, preferring to kill each other rather than unite against the Japanese. Yet, their mountain and forest environment is beautiful, lovingly filmed by cinematographer Chin Ting-chang and some sequences, such as the suicide of the women and children in the rain, are incredibly heart-wrenching. For the film never shies away from the fact that in any conflict woman and children are the inevitable victims.

     Warriors of the Rainbow is by no means perfect; it tries to do too much and even in this longer version there are numerous characters who are not developed and who are difficult to tell apart (especially when Seediq is fighting Seediq). The first part is the more narratively compact as it builds towards the climax of the massacre at Wushe; the second part is more fragmented, the film continuing on for some 30 minutes after the final battle to show the destruction of a culture and the death of a people.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Warriors of the Rainbow is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The colours of the film have been manipulated which results in glossy greens of the jungle foliage, and enhanced yellow light. There are also a number sequences with mist in the mountain, and the massacre takes place in a heavy fog which means that sections of the print are softish. However, detail is strong, with only occasional flicker of the forest leaves, skin tones are good, blacks and shadow detail solid, brightness and contrast consistent although some scenes, such as where Mouna converses with his dead father, are deliberately glary. Marks and artefacts were otherwise not present.

     English subtitles in a clear white text were error free.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is nominally either Chinese DTS-HD MA 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0, although much of the dialogue was Japanese and, I think, an indigenous language.

     Dialogue is easy to understand. This is an enveloping audio track with frequent running water, jungle calls, rain, thunder, music and voices in the rears and surrounds. The battles are loud and aggressive with shots, explosions, cries, impacts of weapons and the crash of bodies. The subwoofer supported the cannons, explosions, impacts, crashes, aircraft engines and the music in a suitable fashion. The score by Ricky Ho is martial and epic, suiting the film.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was generally fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Start Up Trailers

     Trailers for Legendary Amazons (1:28), The Viral Factor (1:16) and My Way (2:11) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     A Blu-ray of the “domestic” short version of Warriors of the Rainbow has been released in Australia. That version ran 154:40 and was only 1080i with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It did however include a second disc, a DVD, of extras:

     These extras are all missing from this Australian released Blu-ray of the extended film. However, the Region Free US release of the extended version has all these extras, plus the two parts of the film each on a separate Blu-ray, making it the preferred release.

Summary

     Warriors of the Rainbow is surprisingly more even-handed than one might expect from the subject matter: the Japanese are generally not shown as monsters, nor are the Seediq Bale paragons of virtue. It is, however, epic filmmaking in every sense with beautiful visuals, chaotic and varied action sequences, and some heart-wrenching moments as an indigenous people and their culture are destroyed in the name of civilization, and commerce.

     If you already own the shortened version of the film, this extended version, with the complete film plus 1080p video and lossless audio, is definitely worth the upgrade, although keep the other release for the extras. If you don’t have the film, the US release is the better option as it includes all the extras that were on the shorter version.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, November 24, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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