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Blu-ray Review: Sacrifice (2011)

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According to the most recent statistics at hand, Cuba Gooding, Jr. makes approximately 50,000 direct-to-video b-movies per year. Most of the time, these low-budget wonders are financed and filmed in the far-away recesses of previously-thought-to-be-legendary countries like Canada or Europe. Some theories maintain that there are several clones of Mr. Gooding — employed by a secret foreign power intent on diminishing the intelligence of the human race worldwide — and attribute his impressive amount of annual moving pictures to them. Other, more-valid assumptions suggest Cuba, Jr. is simply just the work of computer-generated imagery; thus, he can be in several dingy studio warehouses at once the world (or Canada) over.

Either way, Cuba’s yearly quota of crap far surpasses the entire collective works of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Wesley Snipes and Dolph Lundgren combined. And, most of the time, they’re just that: crap.

But with 2011’s Sacrifice, filmmakers finally opted to do something different: they brought in backup. That’s right, instead of being content with watching the all-but-faded light of Cuba’s career dimly illuminate the screen all on its own for this cop/crime drama, we also get to bear witness to another riveting performance by Christian Slater (obviously, Val Kilmer wasn’t available). And, to make matters even more entertaining, the great Mr. Slater plays a priest here.

Yup, that’s right, kids: a priest.

Actually, truth be told, the only things that ultimately make Sacrifice as tolerable as it can possibly be are, in fact, the performances by Gooding and Slater. The rest of the story — a gritty action-drama from writer/director Damian Lee (the man who brought us such classics as Food Of The Gods II and Abraxas, Guardian Of The Universe) about an alcoholic cop’s war on drug-pushing scum — is a pretty dreadful affair. Well, save for that really nice booty-shot around the 9-minute mark, that is, kids!

After his wife and daughter were slaughtered years ago by some very bitter enemies, undercover cop John Hebron (Gooding) has become a hollow shell of his former self. Although he still resides in the same house his family were murdered in, he barely lives there. He’s barely alive, period: surviving on nothing but booze, he drinks more alcohol each and every day than most Rotary Clubs even serve in a monthly timeframe. He’s also a real maverick on the force: ignoring rules to get results. But hey, the fact that he can function with all that C2H5OH in him should get him a commendation for “Outstanding Something-Or-Other” if nothing else!

Meanwhile in the film, a mostly-intelligent young thug (Devon Bostick) makes the fatal mistake of stealing one of many Virgin Mary statues from some really bad drug dealers (Lara Daans and Kim Coates, the latter of whom plays a total scumbag for a change — which is a bit of a turn, as he primarily specializes in portraying utter douchebags and complete sleazebags). His intentions are honest enough — he “donates” the stolen pre-fab sculpture to a local church (run by Father Christian Slater) in an attempt to make up for all of the horrid things he’s done so he can start his life over once again and raise his pre-teen sister up the right way — but the fact that the figure is comprised solely of reconstituted heroin makes it a pretty hot item with the bad guys he’s trying to leave.

Sacrifice often borders on befuddlement, causing one to wonder if Damian Lee wrote the movie while enjoying some reconstituted heroin himself. The acting by some of the supporting players is downright atrocious at times, with co-star Zion Lee (as Coates’ sadistic, expletive-happy son ) being the worst offender by and far. Worse still, the movie has too much ego going for it, trying desperately to present itself as a well-written, well-acted and well-crafted thriller — when it’s really nothing more than a cheapo Canadian crime drama.

On Blu-ray, Millennium Media brings us Sacrifice in a better-than-average-for-a-low-budget-flick presentation. The MPEG-4/AVC 1080p transfer has some strong detail and contrast, while the colors look as bright as they can be, considering the movie has that blue/grey-ish “crime drama hue” goin’ on for it throughout. The movie is presented in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio and with a choice of English Dolby True HD 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks to choose from. The 5.1 mix suffers from many snags (the soundtrack is often too loud, while the dialogue is too low; most of the “action” is delivered via the front speakers), but is still passable overall. Subtitles are provided in English (SDH) and Spanish.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.