10:19 PM | Reviews, Warriors of the Rainbow with 0 comments »
In the opening frame of Warriors of The Rainbow, we see a Taiwanese tribesmen stealthily moving through picturesque jungle hunting and killing a wild boar. The kill is graphic and doesn't pull punches. However, this is a statement that could be made for a majority of the film.
Warriors of the Rainbow is the third feature from Taiwanese filmmaker. Te-Sheng Wei. This 2 1/2 hour historical epic tells the story of a cluster of Taiwanese tribes who band together to fight the overwhelming military power of the imperialist Japanese military strength. To do so, they must put aside tribal conflicts, split loyalties and even their fear of death to become Seediq Bale or "Rainbow Warriors."
Narratively speaking, there's nothing particularly new about this story. The film itself playslike a fusion of "Avatar" and "Braveheart". Its central story of 300 warriors vs thousands seems to owe a lot to "300." Every battle trope from the enemy warlord who grossly underestimates the threat of the "savages" to the melodramatic war speech are executed with sincerity, frequency, and intensity. A James Horner-esque musical score adds to the level of overwrought familiarity
However, from within this formulaic structure comes a lot of powerful moments. The battle sequences themselves are quite compelling, if only because because of how raw it is. This is blade-based battle, fought with rusty machetes and swords. The film pulls no punches with numerous and almost arbitrary decapitations impalements. The film always contextualized the violence as "blood offerings to our ancestors," a touch which clearly justifies our enjoyment of watching soldier after soldier separated from their head by a large blade.
Of particular note is the first raid on the Japanese camp that comes about halfway through the film. Set up with great tension as we watch the Japanese sing their national anthem as the warriors prepare to slaughter creates for one of the films most memorable moments.
Despite the almost author-less direction from Te-Sheng Wei, the film has a lot of beauty within it. The lush colors of the Taiwanese jungle look great on the Blu-Ray transfer, and the editing of the film adds to the feeling of chaos. The attention to detail to 1940s Taiwan was impressive from everything to the grimy texture of the jungle blades to the uniforms of the Japanese soldiers.
Even with all of these elements of unapologeticly huge filmmaking, the overall effect of the film is quieter and more complex. Several mass suicide sequences in the third act as well as a sobering epilogue robs the film of some of its pleasure as a mindless action film.