The Promise

0
0

Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 15th December 2005

Box Office USA: $0.6M

Distributed by: Warner Independent Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 53

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Hong Chen, , Dong-ju Kim

Starring: Claire Foy as Erin Matthews, Christian Cooke as Len Matthews, Ali Suliman as Abu-Hassan Mohammed, Ben Miles as Max Meyer, Pip Torrens as Major John Arbuthnot

The Promise Movie Review


Chen Kaige has always had a weakness for the theatrical, something that can be put to grand and operatic effect in films like Farewell My Concubine and Temptress Moon. It can also lead to quite questionable dramatic choices - or just blatantly silly ones, as is the case his newest, The Promise. The biggest budgeted film in Chinese history ($35 million, about what Bruckheimer spends on catering), it's another in a string of costume action epics that have constituted the bulk of Chinese cinematic export to this country over the past few years. So why does it look so cheap and inspire not awe, but giggling?

It all starts off quite epic. Back in China's distant mystical past, there's a kingdom in which a battle had been waged, and a young girl scavenging food from dead soldiers. She's offered a tempting proposition by the Goddess Manshen, a floating apparition who seems to like messing with mortals: the girl will have everything she's ever desired, but everyone she loves will be taken away from her - unless time runs backward, snow falls in the spring, and the dead rise from the grave. The girl, not having a lot of options, agrees. This sets the stage for a grand, widescreen, Technicolor love triangle two decades down the line, the sort of thing one would imagine that Kaige could pull off in his sleep. The result is something quite closer to self-parody.

The script isn't big on exposition, so after the fairytale opening, the film shifts into battle mode, as an arrogant general (Hiroyuki Sanada) prepares to fight an onslaught of barbarians. After a strange interlude involving a stampede of bulls and a slave who outruns them on his hands and knees, the general rides off to save the king, who is threatened by yet more enemies. The complications quickly pile up, and before long, the king has been assassinated, a slave (Don-Kun Jang) has impersonated the general, the princess (Cecilia Cheung) - has fallen in love with both of them, and the foppish sadist Duke of the North (Nicholas Tse) threatens all of them. Hardly five minutes goes by without a declaration of love or a stunning betrayal, and the leaves are always falling.

Massive budget notwithstanding, The Promise barely delivers the goods necessary for the genre. Kaige relies overly much on special effects shots, which are almost without exception clunky and intrusive - Robert Rodriguez could have whipped up something better on his Mac in a weekend. With this laughable a backdrop, the already hard-to-swallow script quickly dives into ludicrousness. Kaige (who also wrote the script) has neither Zhang Yimou's grace with imagery or nimbleness with story and action, and the result is a film that lumbers when it should dance. This is not to say that the film doesn't have a single card up its sleeve - a set-piece involving a barn-sized golden birdcage is singularly impressive. Only near the end does Kaige manage to whip the action into any semblance of the dizzy melodramatic heights that one might have expected from him. A film like this, which can barely muster up one good gravity-defying sword fight, hardly seems worth it.

Aka Wu Ji. Reviewed at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.

Is it live or is it Final Fantasy XVIII?


Contactmusic

0
0

Comments

The Promise Rating

" Grim "

Advertisement

More Thepromise

Entourage Trailer

After making a name for themselves in Hollywood, Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends from Queens have finally made a movie. The only problem...

Bastille - Things We Lost In The Fire [Live] Video

Live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta, Bastille perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire', the final single from their debut album...

Bastille - Oblivion [Live] Video

Bastille perform their single 'Oblivion' live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta. The track followed Platinum hit 'Of The Night' and featured...

HAERTS - Interview Video

Brooklyn band Haerts released their self-titled debut album this year, and here they talk about how they first got into music, their lifelong friendship and...

Advertisement

Mark Ronson - Daffodils ft. Kevin Parker [Audio] Video

Mark Ronson will finally unveil his fourth album 'Uptown Special' on January 26th 2015 through his new label deal with Sony Music. He has teamed...

Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin [Live] Video

Meghan Trainor performs her latest single 'Lips Are Movin' at one of her favourite places in the world: an aquarium. The song features, alongside smash...

HAERTS - Be The One [Live] Video

Haerts perform an intimate live rendition of their song 'Be The One', taken from their self-titled debut album released in October 2014 through Columbia Records....

ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night Video

ScHoolboy Q released his first number one with third album 'Oxymoron', and he now unveils the video to its latest single 'Hell Of A Night'...

Advertisement