NYAFF 2012 Screening: The Full SEEDIQ BALE is an Epic Time at the Movies
Here are thoughts from our correspondent Alexander Thebez:
Taiwanese filmmaker Wei Te-Sheng, who is known for his well-received Cape No. 7, returns to the big screen with a film that demands to be acknowledged. Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale was first released in the US in 2011. However, its initial release resulted in about two hours worth of the film being left on the cutting room floor. For the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival, I had the opportunity to see the film in its entirety. All four and a half hours of it.
The film follows the story of the native Taiwanese tribes who were faced with an invasion from the Japanese during the 1930s. The Seediq people are headhunters. They are separated into smaller tribes that compete with each other as they hunt. The men of Seediq are awarded with facial tattoos when they decapitate an enemy, while the women receive a variation of tattoos for successfully learning how to weave in addition to other domestic duties.
I think Seediq Bale is an amazing accomplishment for an action film. There is so much cool, exciting, well-crafted action in the film. The historical backdrop does provide a very interesting context, especially since the story of the Seediq is almost unheard of. In my opinion, however, Seediq Bale is more impressive for its action than its ability to move the audience emotionally.
The second segment is definitely more interesting than its first two and a half hours. Taking place almost ten years after the first film, relationships become more complex as a few of the Seediqs assimilate with the Japanese settlers. Some of the women become maids to the Japanese women, and the men become policemen. I had a lot of fun watching Seediq Bale, almost all five hours of it. Its production value almost warrants a viewing. The thrilling battle sequences in the film are definitely worth catching, especially if you are into gore and a bit of ultra violence. Do not expect, however, to experience some kind of enlightening, eye opening storyline that moves your heart or anything like that.
Before coming to Well Go USA Blu-ray/DVD on August 7th, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale 1 & 2 is screening on Wednesday July 4 (06:00pm) at Walter Reade theater, Lincoln Center as part of the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival. Click here for more info and tickets.