A visit to the Wushe Street set of Seediq Bale
Back in October of last year I was lucky enough to catch a screening of one of the few places in Taiwan showing an English subtitled version of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.
Having quite enjoyed Seediq Bale, when I learnt that it was possible to visit the Wushe Street set and that they’d be demolishing it in early February, I decided to pay it a visit.
Located to the northeast of Linkou Township (林口) in Taipei County, the Wushe Street set was built adjacent the ‘Arrow Cinematic Group’ and their ‘Arrow Studio’.
Who knew their was a movie studio up in Linkou Township…
Note that you have to buy a ticket to enter the set and this is done from the Arrow Studio site, about 50m up the road from the actual set.
Whatever you do, don’t do what we did and take notice of the large sign next to the side of road 105 as you leave Linkou Township towards the set advising that they don’t sell tickets onsite and that you have to buy them from 7-11’s iBon machine.
After cycling four or so hours to get to the outskirts of Linkou Township, upon seeing this sign we headed to the nearest 7-11 only to find that tickets to the set were marked as ‘sold out’.
Annoyed (and wondering how tickets to an outdoor set with no fixed capacity seating could be sold out), we headed to the set anyway and it was there we found the Arrow Studio ticket booth still selling tickets.
Of course we only found this out after asking one of the entry gate staff. Otherwise there was no signage up explaining where to buy tickets from.
That little gripe aside, once inside if you ignore the hordes of people who kind of ruin the atmosphere, there was a lot to take in.
The first thing you see as you walk through the entrance gate is this house on a hill.
I’m not exactly sure what this particular building was in the movie, but inside was rather bare,
with just two mock fighting dummies set up, some speakers and a CD playing (presumably the Seediq Bale soundtrack).
Being on top of a hill, looking out you got a pretty decent view of the Wushe Street set:
Coming down from the hill house, you then entered the main Wushe Street set.
Here you had a series of houses,
the largest of which was the Japanese police station at the head of the street:
Inside you had what you’d expect to find in a Japanese police office at the time:
Towards the back of the station,
you had the police armory:
Other buildings in the Wushe Street set were quite interesting to look at too but most were empty and blocked off so you couldn’t go inside.
Note the cherry blossoms which were starting to come out. These were a big hit with the visitors and hordes of girls were lining up to force their boyfriends to take photos of them pulling silly poses infront of any tree that had blossoms.
This building housed a ‘cosplay’ rental shop:
and for about $100 TWD (~$3 USD) you could hire out either an Aboriginal costume,
and for the guys either officer garb or fighting clothing (dunno what the official name is):
There was also some guy doing face tattoos so you also had a bunch of people running around with Seediq style ‘I am a man’ facepaint.
This particular house stood out as out the front you had a sandal rack:
The little sandals I get, you wear them – but I have no idea what’sup with the giant sandal (1930s era humour I didn’t get?).
This wishing wall was getting some good mileage:
Although why you’d want to entrust your wishes to the movie set gods is beyond me.
A highlight for me was spotting this post office box and old bicycle:
From the vaguely bird looking decal on the front fender,
I thought I might be looking at a genuine Chinese built ‘Flying Pigeon’. It certainly looks like a bird but I was unable to track down a photo of the same fender decal so now I’m not so sure what it is.
The chainring guard was also a bit odd as it appears to be shielding the bike rather than the rider’s leg from the chainring.
The last building of interest in this area was the grocery store:
No idea if the stuff on the shelves was real or not, but they certainly played the part authenticity wise.
I believe this is where they shot the scenes with the drunk Seediq guys out the front making fun of the Aboriginal police officer dressed in Japanese clothes.
Towards the rear of the Wushe Street set you had a large open courtyard area:
I believe this is where they shot the school scenes and the battle during the athletics carnival in the movie.
The school was quite nice to walk through and thoroughly detailed:
Out the front of the school was a giant statue of Mona Rudao (looking noticeably more plump than his movie depiction):
A Japanese war cannon:
and of course various Taiwanese vendors offering your usual roast pork, sausages and fried foods:
All in all despite Linkou Township kinda being in the middle of nowhere, a visit to the Wushe Street Seediq Bale set was a pretty interesting afternoon out.
Sadly, although I suppose inevitable, after the $80 million TWD ($2.64 million USD) set closes to the public on February the 12th,
“the structures will be torn down or moved to other locations,” the Municipal Government said, adding that a final decision has not been made.
Hopefully the majority of the set finds a nice home somewhere. If the visitor numbers I saw were anything to go by it good be a nice little revenue booster for one of the local towns down south.
I imagine a shift from the nearish proximity of Taipei that Linkou offers however might reduce visitor numbers though.
Still, I think at least a few of the buildings belong in some sort of Taiwanese movie museum or something. Hopefully the government and Arrow Studious work something out.
Update 14th February 2012 – The demolition deadline has come and gone and the good news is that they’ve extended public access to the set till March 20th.
The bad news is ‘a final decision on how to deal with the movie set after it is closed (relocating the structures or simply demolishing them)’ has yet to be made.
Update 21st March 2012 – Citing ireepairable damage caused by fire ants, the Taipei County government has decided to permanently shut down the Seediq Bale set as of the 20th March 2012.
Due to the damage caused by the fire ants, the structures are to be dismantled and demolished.
Bit of a shame that the government didn’t take any action before the fire ants ravaged the mostly wooden set. The price? A bit of Taiwanese cinema history is now lost forever.