Before I start this review it has come to my attention there are 2 versions of this film. The 4 1/2 International one, and the 2 ½ American one, this review is the American release.
Plot- Produced by John Woo, this story takes place in the mountains of Taiwan. Two races are clashing in defense of their beliefs; where one believes in rainbows and the other believes in the sun. You would think they would realize that it is all in the same realm of beliefs. This film is supposedly a part of history that took place in the late 1800’s and ended around the time World War II ended. A Japanese colony inhabits this island and dominates the tribes who first settled on the land. This film is about the uprising that will take the Japanese by total surprise which will cause more violence.
Review-Given that I have not seen the 4 ½ film, this film seemed to be missing so much that I think I should have watched the extended cut. This film almost felt like the cliff notes to a bigger story, and I knew nothing about this second film till after I watched the first one. An example, in one scene Mona Rudao is giving his word that he won’t start a war, and the very next scene he is now leading an uprising. It just felt like there was so much more to that sequence that would have helped the film make more sense. Make no mistake about it, this film has some breathtaking battle sequences, and the finale is jaw-dropping amazing. And, the brutality in this film is in full display as well, you get beheadings, people being hung, watching so many kids die, it does not shy away from the violence and the nature of how extreme some of the violence does get. But, this cut down version seems to have lost all its depth, all its character building, in favor of a battle after battle film that you really cannot seem to make sense out of half the time. They throw you in battles right from the start, where you do not really have a sense of what is going on, and really cannot care about who is who. But, again the battles are very well shot and very amazing.
This film seems like it is stripped of script, plot, and characters in favor of just violence on top of violence. While that is not always a bad thing, but the scenes that led to most of the sequences feel like they were pieced together more than flowing. Now, I know the box will tell you it is like Braveheart and Last of the Mohicans, but listen to this scene and tell me what this sounds like. Mona Rudao assembles 300 men from the Seediq Bale to battle 3000 Japanese Police. So we have 300 warriors taking on impossible odds.
All in all, I would say if you are going to spend some money to buy the longer cut of this film, which again I have not seen but watching this film I am interested in seeing it now. This cut has some very amazing violence and somewhat pieces of a disjointed tale. All in all, I liked the majority of what this film offered even when I was confused about what is going on, they gave me some very cool flash and great battles. This is a good enough appetizer till I see the main course.
7.5 out of 10