Produced by John Woo
Cinematography by Chin Ting-chang
Cast: Lin Ching-Tai, Da Ching, Ma Chih-Hsiang, Zeng Qiusheng, Lin Yuan-jie
Taiwan, 2011, Well Go, DCP or BluRay, color, 154 min.
Seediq and Japanese with English subtitles
In 1895, China ceded Taiwan to Japan, thus ending the first Sino-Japanese War and beginning five decades of Japanese occupation of the island rich in natural resources. But there was resistance to Japanese control, first by the island’s Han Chinese and then by the more remote aboriginal people of Taiwan, particularly the Seediq led by Mona Rudao. Though valiant, the resistance is finally defeated and the Seediq men are conscripted into low-wage jobs, like logging, and the women work in the homes of the occupiers. Most distressing to the men and boys is that they are forbidden to tattoo their faces, tribal markings which were required for crossing the “Rainbow Bridge” after death. Tensions brew beneath the surface until an uprising by the Seediq explodes in 1930, once more led by Mona Rudao. A ruthless, bloody massacre of Japanese men, women, and children takes place in a schoolyard.
The Japanese government sends 3000 soldiers to put down the rebellion consisting of 300 men under Mona Rudao’s leadership. Machine guns and airplanes are initially defeated by spears, arrows, machetes, and ingenuity in the mountainous areas. The Seediq, infamous as headhunters, are once more able to behead their enemies in battle. Boys can now earn their face tattoos. But even Mona Rudao knows that their victories in battle will be short-lived in a protracted war. The women decide on their own course of action with imminent defeat of their husbands and brothers. A final, valiant effort by the Seediq men is inevitably doomed, but at least they believe that they can now cross the Rainbow Bridge.