While Chinese cinema might mean for some watching the latest Jackie Chan film or revisiting some Bruce Lee classics, not forgetting the massive Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the genre itself has much more to offer and it’s likely we’re going to see more of it as Hollywood and Chinese film studios collaborate more and more.
Sacrifice features an atypical Chinese film plot of paternal love, friendship, honour, tragedy and revenge. This time a tyrannical and jealous army general organises a military coup to overthrow the royal family and the Zhao clan who have been their loyal advisors for many years. To ensure that the entire clan is wiped out the general searches for the King’s new born grandson to kill him. The loyal royal doctor however switches the baby with his own son, sacrificing him so that they royal lineage may survive.
Crazy, we know.
As time goes on, and the boy grows up, the doctor plots to seek his revenge against the general and trains the boy in martial arts and discipline by using disgraced officers from the general’s army and even the general himself, who makes the boy his godson, with no idea that the boy is not who the doctor says he is.
It’s a great film but the plot is full of twists and turns that are sometimes a little difficult to follow. Relationships that have had no mention for much of the film are suddenly developed or alluded to, adding to the web of deceit and connection between the characters. In many ways the complexity of the storyline adds to its beauty and also shows the lengths that the main characters are willing to go to achieve their revenge. In other ways it just complicates the story in a way that distracts the viewer from its simple but tragic conclusion.
It’s beautifully shot, the Chinese landscape and architecture will always look at home in cinema, and while the martial arts choreography isn’t the most complex its simplicity does add a certain element of realism to it.
If your experience of Chinese cinema is limited then do watch this film as it’s quite a good introduction to the genre and the stories that play out so predominantly in their films. We enjoyed it, even if we were scratching our heads a little trying to work out exactly who was related to who.