Film about a little-known piece of Hawaiian history gets its island debut

Jason Scott Lee has been in major Hollywood movies during his career. But he’s very proud of one in particular.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 9:32 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 4, 2022 at 12:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jason Scott Lee has been in major Hollywood movies during his career. But he’s very proud of one in particular.

“You know, they talk about diversity a lot in Hollywood. And this is as diverse, as diverse as it gets,” he said.

“And homegrown.”

Lee plays the role of Koolau in the movie “The Wind and the Reckoning.”

It’s set in 1893, the year the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, as the provisional government tries to force him and his family to Kalaupapa after he contracts Hansen’s Disease.

The movie got its first Hawaii screening Thursday night at the Hawaii International Film Festival at the Bishop Museum.


Lee and much of the rest of the cast had to learn the Hawaiian language. Eighty percent of the film is in ‘Olelo Hawaii.

“I have such high regard and respect for our culture here and all the kupuna, and you know, you just want to knock it out of the park. You don’t wanna go half ways,” he said.

“Back then, two Hawaiians talking to each other, they would speak in ‘Olelo Hawaii. So we were going to make sure we weren’t just gonna ‘go movie’ on it and ignore that, you know? We wanted to make sure we were true to the culture, true to Hawaiians,” said Lindsay Anuhea Watson, who portray’s Koolau’s wife, Piilani.

Watson is Native Hawaiian and went to Kamehameha Schools. But this is the first time she’s played a Hawaiian onscreen.

“I’ve only been able to work on Hispanic roles, or Native American. Why? Because there were no roles for Hawaiians or Polynesians. They just didn’t care. But now they’re seeing us,” said Watson.

The film was made on a small budget on Hawaii Island and Kauai during the middle of the COVID pandemic.

PODCAST: ‘The Wind and the Reckoning’ movie brings Hawaiian history to life

“All of a sudden we had testing and vaccines and all these protocols we had to get, and that cost a lot of money,” said actor Henry Ian Cusick, who plays the role of McCabe. “So I spent more time in quarantine on the Big Island. I spent almost two and a half weeks in quarantine and seven days shooting.”

The movie has already won numerous awards at film festivals in San Diego and Boston, including Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

“This is going to be a game-changer in terms of a project that’s important for Hawaii,” said State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson.

“There are a lot of young up-and-comers in this creative sector that are looking at this and really kind of realizing what’s possible for themselves and for the indsutry, the local industry,” she added.

“The Wind and the Reckoning” will have its big-screen debut at the Consolidated Ward theaters Friday, Saturday and Sunday.