'The Sacrifice' pays homage to martyrs

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To mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Volunteers Army helping in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, the epic film The Sacrifice opened on Oct 23, quickly topping the country's box office charts on the first day.

Major creators gather to promote the war epic "The Sacrifice" in Beijing on Oct. 22, 2020.  [Photo courtesy of Maxtimes Culture]

Co-directed by Guan Hu, Guo Fan and Lu Yang, the film teams up veteran actors Zhang Yi, Wu Jing, Li Jiuxiao and Wei Chen as well as Deng Chao.

The film is set on July 12, 1953, the second day after the outbreak of the Battle of Kumsong – the last fight before Chinese People's Volunteers Army and the US-led so-called "UN forces" signed the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953.

Unlike most previous domestic war-themed films that chronicle milestone incidents or highlight historic figures, the feature turns the lens to ordinary soldiers, who sacrificed their lives in order to restore a bridge amid American fighters' intense bombings.

A scene in The Sacrifice features actor Zhang Yi. [Photo courtesy of Maxtimes Culture]

Stretching across a torrent river with its widest part reaching around 60 meters and as deep as four meters, the bridge was the only portal to transport thousands of Chinese soldiers and military vehicles to the battlefield of Kumsong.

Director Guo Fan, known for the sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth, reveals that a big-scale special-effect team consisting of up to 2,600 members was recruited to work on the visual feast, with most scenes "pre-shot" on computers and the actors rehearsed inside hotels to ensure the movie wrapped on schedule, during a premiere in Beijing on Oct 22.

With the major shooting in Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning province, the producers recalled that coping with changing climates in an intense schedule was one of the biggest challenges as nearly all scenes took place in the wild.

An IMAX poster of "Sacrifice." [Image courtesy of IMAX China]

Zhang Yi, alongside actor Wu Jing as the two protagonists, revealed that the actors slept a few hours every day but some insisted on keeping training schedule in order to best portray Chinese soldiers.

The film is projected by most industry insiders as the biggest blockbuster to accelerate Chinese film industry's recover between late October and November, a period which is usually lackluster in drawing big-budget movies in past years.

As of 3 pm on Oct. 23, the movie – which is released in multiple formats including giant IMAX screens – had grossed 50 million yuan ($7.48 million), according to the box office live tracker Beacon.

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