Sacrifice (趙氏孤兒 Zhaoshi Guer which could translate more literally to Zhao Orphan) is based on a thirteenth century Chinese play about a general, Tu Angu, who frames and kills his rival in the local ruler’s court, Grand Councillor Zhao Dun and his entire family, including his son General Zhao and daughter-in-law, the sister of the local ruler. *SPOILERS, but dude it’s an old story full of what are now cliches only they were maybe new back then.* The only survivor is the Councillor’s grandson born the day of the massacre who survives through the sacrifice of a lot of other people (Zhao family supporters). The Zhao orphan grows up and gets revenge.
The movie generally follows the synopsis of the play given by Wikipedia, although there’s no songs or poems. However! Everywhere it did sort of change the story was a chance for it to make less sense, not more! If we divide the movie into I dunno four acts, with the first one being the family rivalry and massacre, and then the saving of the orphan Zhao, then the kid grows up, then the kid gets revenge, basically the first act was good, the second was ok, and after that, it was ridiculous. There’s some pretty well known actors who played some good parts — I think I recognized Tu Angu (Wang Xueqi), Lady Zhuangji (?) (Fan Bingbing), and General Zhao (Vincent Zhao), maybe some others. If you were knowledgeable about Chinese movie stars, maybe you’d recognize more of them. Anyway, I only mention it because they were good, and it felt like they were wasted! Because really, after the big set up and killing and the mother sacrificing herself for the son, it went downhill. The saving of the baby I suppose was still ok, but boy the slide after that into nonsense was fast, completely wasting the start of a fun movie. I don’t want to get into more spoilers, but let’s just say that the revenge plan was the dumbest ever. I suppose in the end it basically worked, but I don’t know what the point was. After the movie was finished, I didn’t feel catharsis or satisfaction in anyway, just lots of WTF?!
So overall, what I’m saying is, don’t bother. I suppose if you want to watch the first part, that’s fine, but after that, don’t feel like you need to finish it. It won’t redeem itself, alas.