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"Warriors of the Rainbow": Disturbing Celebration of a Death Cult 

Wednesday, Apr 25 2012

It's not clear what Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale values more — endless preaching about ancestral spirits or gruesome CG decapitations. Wei Te-sheng's lurching historical epic concerns the 1930 uprising against occupying Japanese forces by aboriginal Taiwanese clans. Their ethos, explained in numerous dramatically inert passages by stoic badass leader Mouna Rudo (Lin Ching-Tai), involves honoring ghostly forbearers — who live in a fertile hunting-ground heaven on the other side of a rainbow bridge — by staining their hands with blood in beheading-crazy battle. The Japanese are depicted as evil cartoon racists, and yet Mouna and his comrades don't come off much better, given that their slaughter of men, women, and children comes close to validating the Japanese's negative opinions of them. The film's alternating talky torpor and frantic mayhem makes Warriors feel like it's operating in either fast-forward or slow motion, all of it set to soaring ballads with lyrics that further spell out the material's pro-lineage themes. More unsettling still is its celebratory attitude toward the aboriginals' death-cult mentality, epitomized by the mothers who abandon their young sons to hang themselves in sacrificial solidarity.

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Nick Schager


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