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Wei tells it his way

Helmer leaps from low-budget laffer to pricey epic

Much has changed for Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng in the leap from low-budget hit laffer “Cape No. 7” to “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” his country’s first big-budget epic, which screened in competition at Venice.

But, he said, “my starting point was still simply my wish to tell a story.”

The tale that struck Wei’s fancy — and became a roughly $25 million actioner, with John Woo among producers — depicts an uprising by an aboriginal Taiwanese tribe, called Seediq Bale, which in 1930 pitted 300 warriors against 3,000 invading Japanese troopers.

Wei said he knows that, due to the sensitive subject matter, “it’s possible that in Japan, or even in continental China, this film’s subject matter may draw criticism. But what I have depicted is history and you can’t change that.”

And clearly, while “Cape No. 7” was one of Taiwan’s biggest hits, “Warriors” has much bigger breakout potential.

Pic, produced by Terence Chang and Jimmy Huang with Woo via Ars Film Prods. and Central Motion Picture Corp., opens Sept. 9 in Taiwan, followed by October releases in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Fortissimo is in talks for sales to Japan and Korea. ARP has it for France and Optimum for U.K.

“I greatly admire the director,” Woo told Variety. “He’s a very sincere and serious filmmaker.”

Woo added that he wants to “do more to help young Asian directors.” With Wei, one way to help was purely practical. “I just gave him my experience: I told him how to set up the dynamite.”

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