Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
- Audio Codec: Multilingual DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), Dolby Digital 2.0
- Subtitles: English, Chinese
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: NR
- Run Time: 150 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Well Go USA
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 7, 2012
- List Price: $29.98
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(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Director Wei Te-Sheng’s Warrior’s of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (賽德克·巴萊, Sàidékè balái) is a historical war epic based on the true events surrounding the struggles of the aboriginal Taiwanese people against a colonial Japanese government at the beginning of the 20th century. Reportedly the film was the most expensive production in the Taiwanese film industry’s history at a budget of US$25,000,000.
I don’t claim to be an expert in history of any sort, and certainly not in Asian history, so the accuracy of the portrayal of the events in Seediq Bale escape my limited knowledge, but no doubt there has been some artistic license taken in this blood soaked adventure, which, in its native land, has been compared to Braveheart.
The story mainly revolves around one particular Seediq chief, Mouna Rudo (Lin Ching-Tai), of the Mahebu clan. As the film begins, we see him as a young man, first earning his facial tattoos by going on a ceremonial hunt in which he successfully kills a wild boar, but the clan also comes into conflict with a rival clan. Later on, as the Japanese are moving farther onto the island, Mouna Rudo’s father is killed and Mouna Rudo becomes chief. Twenty-five-years later, Mouna Rudo is an older chief and the Japanese have a firm grip on Taiwan, and some of the Seediq have become Japanese policemen and teachers in an effort to become less “savage.” When pushed to the breaking point by an incident with a high ranking Japanese official at a Seediq wedding, Mouna Rudo decides to rally the Seediq people in a revolt against the Japanese, gathering rival clans together in numbers as strong as 300 men for a brutal attack, beheading all Japanese, women and children included.
The Seediq then retreat into the forests with their women and children and prepare for what they know will be a forceful Japanese retaliation with the full might of military technology against them — airplanes, machine guns, etc. But a lack of food due to the over-forestation by the Japanese of the traditional Seediq hunting grounds means that sacrifices must be made – many of the wives and grandmothers commit suicide and kill their young babies to ensure the survival of their older children and the warriors.
I should add, at this point, that I was sent the heavily edited version of the film. The international version on Blu-ray is in two parts and runs 4.5 hours. I’m sure the film in its longer version would have even more impact than this already compelling version, but even in this edition, the superb acting, authentic portrayal of violence and picturesque scenery make this an amazing experience.
Well Go offers up a gorgeous transfer of the Super 35mm source for Warriors of the Rainbow. The layer of grain is so thin, one can be excused for, at times, mistaking the image for being a native high definition production captured on a Red or some similar camera. Contrast is strong and detail is nicely extended. In the foreground, textures on clothing and skin are almost three-dimensional.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack offers a good range of dynamics, subtle atmospheric effects such as rainstorms surrounding you, or things more discrete like bullets flying through the room. The low frequency extension is hefty when grenades and bombs begin to explode as well. Dialogue is clean with no hints of clipping.
There are about 28-minutes of high definition featurettes and two theatrical trailers rounding out this release.
- Making of (1.78:1; 1080i/60) – This “making of” simply acts as an excuse to lavish praise on the director and the film.
- Behind the Scenes (1.78:1; 1080i/60) – This offers up several minutes of B-roll location footage.
- Make-up and Visual Effects (1.78:1; 1080i/60) – A relatively interesting look at some of the difficulties faced by the make-up and effects crew.
- Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
- International Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
The Definitive Word
Wei Te-Sheng has probably crafted the definitive film about the aboriginal people of Taiwan for years to come. It is filled with spirit, beautiful imagery, and edge of the seat action. The Blu-ray from Well Go USA is appropriately high quality. Highly recommended.
Additional Screen Captures