Running Time: 150 minutes
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale is Taiwan’s Hollywood-style retelling of the rebellion by the aboriginal tribes of the island against the Japanese rulers in 1930. After having their way of life and freedom taken away from them and being made to work for abusive Japanese bosses, six tribes came together to stage an uprising during a Japanese celebration. After a massacre, the rebels take to the hills and fight a bloody Guerrilla war against the odds under the leadership of Mona Rudao.
The pace of Warriors of the Rainbow is frenetic as right from the off we are treated to well-executed, engaging battles, skirmishes and confrontations as Wei tries to fit in the Japanese invasion of the island and the rebellion with a tiny bit of characterisation thrown in for good measure. As with many of these movies, the characters are not fully introduced but you just get a gist of a few recurring faces and you just really need to know that Mona Rudao is an uncompromising, hardman who looks cooler than most of the others.
Wei does well to present this as not the good guys versus the bad guys but more of a clash of civilisations. There are characters to root for on either side and the excesses – gas bombs and civilian-killing – are shown from either army. There are also subplots that are fascinating and disturbing, like the women’s role in the rebellion and their grim fate. On the whole, there is a nice lack of melodrama and over-glorification of the warriors but it does begin to creep in at the end.
The ultimate problem comes with the length, which varies in just how overlong it is depending on which version you watch, as the final battle that should be the film’s main set piece, seriously drags and becomes tedious as you are willing the army of never-say-die Rambos to just get on with it and die. This is a shame as a few less ambush scenes may have made the difference.
It's Got: Excellent action, an engaging and interesting storyline, an awesome 'hero' to root for
It Needs: To be shorter. Simple as that.
It may be a little overlong, but Wei and Woo introduce a fascinating story from history with plenty of stylish action and objectivity.