Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“SACRIFICE” (趙氏孤兒) MOVIE REVIEW. From this polished GEM spins an INTRIGUING TALE.


“SACRIFICE” the CHINA movie combines both the POWER and the POMP.

First the POWER:

We’ve here an epic period feature directed by CHEN KAIGE who’s best known for his monumental 1993 film “Farewell My Concubine” which starred the ever sultry Gong Li and the late Leslie Cheung.

That film bagged two OSCAR nominations for best cinematography and best foreign-language film and propelled CHEN to international recognition as one of CHINA’s most foremost directors.

We can safely say that CHEN KAIGE is positioned as an integral figure in China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers.

Next, the POMP:

Whether CHEN was resting on his laurels or he was too cocksure of his own brand, his commercial and artistic integrity suffered after that. In Hollywood, you are only as good as your last picture and CHEN was observed as sliding from his pedestal.

Now, the new MOVIE:

After a couple of lack-lustre films which earned him a resounding critical back-lash, CHEN finally scores big-time with his latest film “SACRIFICE”, a polished gem that spins an intriguing tale set in the warring Kingdom of Jin in 583 B.C.

The story charts the transition from babe to adulthood of a heir apparent whose parents have been brutally murdered by an arch rival.

It weaves a sad tale of a loyal doctor who sacrifices his own son to preserve the last bloodline of a noble clan.

There’s a popular CHINESE adage that says, “If seeking vengeance is your heroic intent, then whatever long wait is never the question.”

Revenge should always be sweet, passionate and patient.

For generations, the infamous Zhao family is a deadly force to be reckon with. They are feared because they wield extreme power that extends way above the king. Thus they have many jealous enemies lurking in the dark who will plot to get rid of them.

In a well-planned coup, their mortal enemy TU’AN GU (Wang Xue Qi) succeeds to wipe out the entire Zhao clan.

All, except one.

A solitary Zhao baby survives the massacre, is hidden and taken home by CHENG YING (Ge You), the doctor who delivered him, to live with his WIFE (Hai Qing) and their own ill-fated newborn child.

Tu’an Gu desperately orders the seizure of every infant in the city, vowing to kill them all unless the Zhao baby is surrendered.

When the tyrant’s soldiers arrive at Cheng Ying’s home, they force him from the arms of the doctor’s wife. The frantic doctor hides his wife and their baby at the house of a friend of the Zhaos, but when they are discovered, Tu’an Gu assumes the Cheng’s baby is the Zhao heir and slaughters the wrong baby boy along with Cheng’s wife.

Thus CHENG YING’s own flesh-and-blood becomes the sacrificial lamb in order that the Zhao baby can live.

Set on revenge, and raising the Zhao child as his own, Cheng Ying bides his time, enrolling himself and the Zhao orphan (Cheng Bo) into the service of the Tu’an Gu household.

In an ironic twist of fate, Tu’ an Gu grows very fond of Cheng Bo and makes Cheng Bo his godson, unaware that Cheng Ying has been plotting to use the boy as an instrument of vengeance when he grows up.

As the day of reckoning draws closer when Cheng Bo becomes a strapping young man, Tu’an Gu inadvertently stumbles upon Cheng Bo’s true identity.

Finally, the CREDITS:

“SACRIFICE” boasts a glittering all-star cast and you can’t wish for more.

There are the creme-de-la-creme of CHINA veterans such as GE YU, WANG XUE QI, HUANG XIAO MING, FAN BING BING and VINCENT ZHAO.

The feature film is laced with action that is swift and furious with bloody massacres and swordplay.

You will breeze through the extravagant, breathtaking sets and costume designs.

The brilliant cinematography will astound you, but it is the emotive, highly charged drama that will surely keep you on edge.

“SACRIFICE” is definitely on my list of must-watch films of 2011.

I would strongly recommend you to go catch it.

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