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September 21, 2017

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Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale Part 2 (賽德克.巴萊[下]:彩虹橋)

"The Rainbow Bridge" (彩虹橋), the second half of director Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖)'s epic film "Seediq Bale" (賽德克.巴萊), is packed with more action but is also more convoluted and weaker in character development.

By the end of the first episode, "The Sun Flag" (太陽旗), grievances under Japanese rule culminates in the masterfully recreated 1930 Wushe Incident (霧社事件), the last major uprising against colonial Japanese forces in Taiwan. The fate of the Seediq people seems sealed.

This second installment, which deals with Japanese retaliation, discord among Seediq factions and the Seediq's determination to die for their tradition, feels like a prolonged unraveling.

The Japanese set the Seediq clans against one another by leveraging historical feuds over hunting grounds and personal grudges between clan leaders Mouna Rudo and Temu Walis.

As Mouna Rudo leads six Seediq clans into prolonged combat, Seediq women hang themselves collectively to let the men continue fighting with enough supplies and without distraction.

Rains fall relentlessly as these women part with their children. Some youths already shoulder responsibilities of war, but in this moment they are just children being torn from their mothers.

Pawan Nawi, one such young warrior, says to Mouna in another scene: "Chief, look at the tattoo on our faces! We are no longer kids. Just let us join everyone else and put up a good fight against the Japanese! I am already so tired and I want a good night's sleep."

Dakis Nobing and Dakis Nawi, who have attempted for most of their lives to assimilate under Japanese culture as Ichirou (花崗一郎) and Jirou Mikage (花崗二郎), end up taking the same impossible exit between rigid categories of identity.

Even Temu Walis, who liaises with the Japanese, exhorts his kinsmen: "Stop running away, and kill all the way till last drop of blood! Seize heads like a warrior and return to our ancestral home!"

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