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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artful
A dramatic story very artfully told. Excellent actors. Chen Kaige did not disappoint. Action and dramatic scenes were very well balanced.
Published on August 11, 2012 by BergamotFan

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THREE AND ONE-HALF STARS: Period Melodrama Shows The Beauty of SACRIFICE
Based on the classic play ("Orphan of Zhao"), SACRIFICE is written and directed by Chen Kaige of FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE fame. It's the story of duplicitous dealings to seize power during the Yuan Dynasty in the 5th century B.C. When the Zhao clan is wiped out by Tu'an Gu (played by Wang Xue Ki), a common doctor named Cheng Ying (Ge You) rises up to take the family's last...
Published 23 months ago by E. Lee Zimmerman


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artful, August 11, 2012
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This review is from: Sacrifice (Amazon Instant Video)
A dramatic story very artfully told. Excellent actors. Chen Kaige did not disappoint. Action and dramatic scenes were very well balanced.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very dramatic, July 29, 2012
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This review is from: Sacrifice (Amazon Instant Video)
Very nicely made movie, extremely dramatic with not so much martial action though. It is also quite long, more than 2 hours, but given a twisted plot and dialogues, you can hardly notice the time. Overall it is a sad story, which at the end feels somewhat unfinished. Reminds me a bit Curse Of The Golden Flower
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THREE AND ONE-HALF STARS: Period Melodrama Shows The Beauty of SACRIFICE, October 12, 2012
This review is from: Sacrifice (DVD)
Based on the classic play ("Orphan of Zhao"), SACRIFICE is written and directed by Chen Kaige of FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE fame. It's the story of duplicitous dealings to seize power during the Yuan Dynasty in the 5th century B.C. When the Zhao clan is wiped out by Tu'an Gu (played by Wang Xue Ki), a common doctor named Cheng Ying (Ge You) rises up to take the family's last survivor - an infant prince - into his possession. However, Tu'an Gu refuses to be anyone fools, and he orders all newborns to be taken under to the palace until the baby prince is surrendered. A tragic twist of fate leaves Cheng without his wife and his own son, but he raises the prince as his own. When the boy comes of age, will he rise up and take back the reign of leadership, or will he instead bow down to Tu'an, who he now looks upon as his own godfather?

While a terrific film, SACRIFICE is not without a few creative hiccups. In fact, I found the opening fifteen minutes of the film more than a bit confusing, as - for reasons I couldn't figure - writer/director Chen employed a very choppy narrative with which to set all these players in motion. There's a bit of confusion as several sequences play out-of-order in proper chronology. On the face of it, it appears as if it was entirely a stylistic consideration, though I'm not convinced it was the wisest decision. However, once these relationships are fully established, the film (thankfully) drops into a more conventional pace - Cheng is seen raising the prince through several years - and the story makes perfect sense.

Much of the story is the stuff solid `classics' are drawn from. There's the traditional pomp and circumstance of dealing with royal clans. There's the lowly peasant (in this case, the town physician) who makes a pact with a dying princess to protect her son. There's even plenty of scheming along the sidelines as a palace guard (Han Jue, played by Xiaming Huong) is forced to choose sides between the warring clans, and, as a consequence of his choosing, he's left scarred physically and emotionally throughout the remainder of his life. And it's all set against the backdrop of secret identities and hidden agendas when, once revealed, will rock the kingdom to its very core.

Throughout the film, the underlying theme of `sacrifice' gets explored from several perspectives. Certainly, the doctor has given up on what would be a normal life by having to spend most of his days committed to honoring his oath to the princess. Han Jue finds himself in a similar predicament, no longer allowed to serve the palace due to his disgrace in securing the newborn prince. Even General Tu'an's storyline deals superficially with sacrificing his own hope for a suitable heir (a subplot given too little time to merit serious exploration here) and instead opting to assist in raising his godson. Cheng's story remains front and center, and, in the bulk of his screen time explaining his choices to the prince - Cheng Bo - once he comes of age, it becomes clear how far he's been driven to maintain his sacrifice. The cost is nothing short of his own, personal happiness.

To its credit, SACRIFICE played to some acclaim in its native China, and it even garnered critical acclaim. In 2011, You Ge was nominated for Best Actor in the Asian Film Awards, and Xiaming Huong received a nod for Best Supporting Actor. You Ge was also nominated for Best Actor in the People's Choice award. While neither man won the award, both certainly give exceptional performances here. Technically, the film is very accomplished, being shot on a budget of $10M. At times, it looks as sumptuous as one would expect, though some of the exterior locations seemed a bit slim to this period piece junkie.

SACRIFICE is produced by 21 Century Shengkai Film, the Shanghai Film Group, Stellar Megamedia, and TIK Films. DVD distribution is being handled by Vivendi Entertainment. How does it look and sound? This is another disc that I had to crank up the volume in order to really capture the dialogue in the center track - I've had a few of these lately - but, otherwise, quality was solid. Picture quality is excellent, though there was one short sequence filled with grain for reasons I couldn't quite figure out. It's a Cantonese soundtrack with English subtitles. As is too often the case with foreign releases hitting U.S. shores (and stores), there are no special features to speak of, a sad, sad commentary on film in itself. I definitely would've liked to know more about the production.

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. My online friends know me all too well, recommending SACRIFICE to me as they believed it would be `right up my alley.' Indeed, it's a strong picture - part period piece, part morality tale, part crafty revenge flick - but it ain't perfect. It stumbles a bit out of the gate - what were they thinking with hopping around chronologically in so short a time span? - and the latter half is plagued with some curious editing and some somewhat amateurish combat choreography (don't look too closely, or you'll see some shockingly clear misses in the swordplay, though they're played to full effect); still, when story matters most, the film achieves its own subtle, cinematic grace.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Vivendi Entertainment provided me with a DVD screener of SACRIFICE for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sacrifice, September 23, 2012
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This review is from: Sacrifice (Amazon Instant Video)
It was a great story line.. gripping....couldve had a better ending but that y I gave it 4 stars. I would watch it again
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are these tears!?!, April 21, 2013
This review is from: Sacrifice (DVD)
I watched this movie and will buy it here. I have to say, this is one of the saddest revenge movies I've ever seen. It would be impossible to believe that a 15 year old boy could fight a seasoned warlord if you had just started watching the movie from that point. Maybe it's because I'm not used to seeing a baby being killed that this got to me but the whole story had me committed to seeing this till the end. I loved it and it'll go into my collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much martial arts but a good story line., March 27, 2013
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Sammichman "mazuzu" (Queens, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacrifice (Amazon Instant Video)
Not much martial arts but a good story line more than makes up for it. The scarface characrter could have been developed a little more. The movie kept my interest the whole time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not bloody, May 21, 2014
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This review is from: Sacrifice (DVD)
The Samurai code of ethics revealed in many forms to save a child and heal a feud. Very fine costuming.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fair, April 13, 2013
By 
Raymond (SAN JOSE, CA, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sacrifice (Amazon Instant Video)
I would rate the movie as okay since it is not filled with equal action and drama like most asian action movies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Finish, February 7, 2013
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This review is from: Sacrifice (Amazon Instant Video)
A twisted story with a powerful finish, this movie couldn't do a better job of tying up loose ends and fulfilling its original promise. I thoroughly enjoyed the film right down to the ending which I found very satisfying. It's a sumptuous production, the fight scenes in the ending are understated and polished, the women are sublime, the men are confused (not confusing) and its just a great story. The ending may not be satisfying for you if you are looking for a fairy tale, they lived happily ever after finish. But it certainly gets the job done. If you liked "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" you will surely enjoy this.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly disappointing, November 1, 2012
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This review is from: Sacrifice (DVD)
Give it a miss. I don't buy the fact that a twelve year old is strong enough to do battle with a king,,, silly premise though it had good promise,the revenge part just wasn't handled properly
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Sacrifice
Sacrifice by Kaige Chen (DVD - 2012)
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