White American missionaries make contact with the Waodani tribe in the Amazon jungles of Equador. Chad Allen plays the lead character of Steve Saint. He goes down the Amazon river on an adventure in Equador. He meets Mincayani (played by Louie Leonardo). Mincayani is a member of the fierce Waodani tribe who spend most of the time killing other members of competing tribes, to control the rain forest where they live. The encampment of Mincayani is attacked. The rival tribe kills all of them except Mincayani who escapes with one girl. A sudden torrential rain saves them. He meets up with another girl who escaped. She follows the signs of the carvings in the trees to find the remaining members of the tribe who also escaped. But they are in bad condition, without food, and suffering. Mincayani and one girl ventures in the forest. They see some Spanish men and the little girl decides it would be better to be with them. She leaves Mincayani to live with the foreigners.
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Many years later Mincayani is grown up. Steve flies his plane over the territory of the Waodani. The natives see the plane. Steve makes contact with them. They disappear in the jungle as fast as they are seen. Mincayani kills a jaguar by his spear. Steve plans to make a drop using his plane. He flies in a circle over the Waodani camp and let's his bucket drop straight down. It is a successful drop and the Waodani see the stuff and accept the gift as the first direct contact with modern civilization.
Mincayani's tribe kills the men of a nearby tribe. The plane flies over again. They lower gifts and the men of the tribe put a parrot in the bucket as a return gift. When they lower the bucket again,the natives try to get in the bucket also, but they are too heavy so the guys in the plane cut the bucket free. Steve finds a sand bar of sufficient size and lands his plane on it. The white guys form a mission to go into the jungle and make contact with the natives. They make camp on the sand bar. At first, the encounter is very friendly. The white guys film everything . Steve takes one of the natives in a ride in the airplane. The natives are confused about the missionaries and think they are dangerous. They attack them with spears killing them all. As Steve dies he is able to say the native language “ I am your sincere friend.” But the message is too late. All the white men are attacked. They try to make radio contact but the response is too slow. After all the white men are speared and killed, the natives tear the plane to pieces.
More white men come to look for the others. This time they are heavily armed with rifles. The come in boats and with a helicopter. They land on the sand bar next to the plane and they find the dead white men. The Waodani burn their village, as they leave to escape, and move deeper into the jungles of the rain forest. The families of the white men see the film footage of the guys in their camp before they were killed. One of the girls with the missionaries, who was the little girl from the beginning of the film, sees it is her family in the jungles. Mincayani sees the settlers' camp and he investigates it. Mincayani understands very little of what he sees. He is seen by the white men. He is chased by them with dogs. He dives into the river to escape. The women natives are captures but not killed. The white women understand this is the way to make peaceful contact and to advance into the jungle to meet with the other natives. Duyumae (played by Christina Souza) sees Mincayani and reminds him of the time when they were little and she left him to make peace with the white people. They see it is her. But they don't accept her. They tell her they killed the white people to avenge her parent's death. She tells them she is peaceful now and will not kill anyone. Mincayani is bitten when fishing, He gets very ill. He demands his spears so he can run away into the jungle, saying the white people are only spirits. But slowly they come to accept the contact with the white foreigners.
The rival tribe of the Aenomenani has an illness of fever which makes them all fall ill and need the help of Mincayani's tribe. Supplies are airlifted in. They get medicine and food dropped in, to help them survive the illness. After eight weeks of quarantine the village recovers. The son of Steve says good bye to Mincayani and he returns to the USA. His mom stays behind working with the tribe of Mincayani.
Years later, the boy returns as a man to the area of Mincayani's tribe. Mincayani takes him to a place he tells him he should see. Mincayani shows him the plane of his father buried in the sand bar of the river. Mincayani tells him the death of his father happened on this spot by the river. Mincayani admits spearing him. but also says he saw his father go to heaven before he died. Mincayani asks the man to kill him to avenge his father's death. Steve cannot kill him. Steve says no one took his father's life, instead he freely gave it. Mincayani is forgiven and they heal the past.
Best part of story, including ending:
I like this film in based on a true story of what happened when white people met up with one of the most violent Amazon tribes ever documented.
Best scene in story:
I like the scene when the tribesmen fight to get into the bucket, which was lowered by a rope from the plane, so they can fly in what they call the "wooden bird" because it is very interesting to see how native indigenous people react to modern technology.
Opinion about the main character:
I found it very interesting the main character Steve was able to forgive the native man Mincayani for killing his father.