The Promise (Sous-titres français) [Import]
From the award-winning director of Farewell My Concubine and cinematographer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon comes a swirling, sword-clanging new legend in martial arts lore, the epic tale of destiny foretold, of battles fought... and of love to be won.
Audio: Mandarin Chinese, English.
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish.
Rated: 14A (Canada) and PG-13 (USA) Stylized violence and martial arts action and some sexual content
Run time: 103 minutes
Extras: Deleted scenes and a Making of feature
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Top Customer Reviews
The Promise a été mon coup de foudre. Le film est riche en couleur et les scènes s'enchaïnent merveilleusement. L'histoire est d'un rafinement et d'une légèreté à couper le soufle. Les costumes sont somptueux.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Story is not as bad as I was led to believe. I will not go into the story description as it has been covered. It is full of the virtues that I like so much in Asian films. Honor, sacrafice, and death.
The DVD I watched was the shorter version. It includes the deleted scenes which I watched and do not feel they added or subtracted a whole lot from the story. The fact that the Asian release included them makes me wonder why they were cut out. The bothersome issue with this DVD is the film defaults to the awful english over dubs. You have to manually go into the menu and choose Chinese (Mandarin), and then designate english sub titles.
I love Crouching Tiger, Hero and House of Flying Daggers. This movie is none of those. While it has some beautiful moments it does seem 'synthethic'. If it were the directors intent to create an abstract feel he suceeded.
The CGI is deplorable. I have no problem with the fantasy aspect but this looked almost animated. Maybe Lord of the Rings ruined it for all but if this was supposed to be the most expensive movie ever made in China they could have done better. An example: the over view of the palace is a model. Absolutely obvious. The flying fights made so famous on other films of the genre are not at all fluid here, but jerky and clumsy.
All in all I watched with intrest. I had no desire to turn it off. I may have even given it three stars but I did grade it against the likes of Hero and House of Flying Daggers which may be unfair. I recommend watching it if you like the aforementioned films. My opinion may not be yours.
Kunlun's ability impresses general Guangming also known as "Master of the Crimson Armor" and is taken in as a slave by the general. The general has been informed that the King is being attacked by Duke Wuhuan from the north but before he can get there he is attacked by Wuhuan's assassin Snow Wolf, the general is saved by Kunlan but receives a bad wound trying to defend himself. The general can't make the journey to protect the king and sends Kunlun with his crimson armor instead. The general tells Kunlun that the king will be the only one without a weapon. Kunlun goes to protect the king and when he arrives at the palace sees a man with a sword about to kill a beautiful woman and kills him before he can get to the woman and then flees with her. Kunlun eventually is cornered by Wuhuan's men and is told if he jumps into the waterfall behind him the princess will live but before he jumps he promises the princess he will never let her die.
This is one movie that had the money, a cool plot, and even had a good cast to support it. I think the first mistake was the director went crazy with his budget and though I do realize this is a fantasy movie but there is just too much. There was too much CGI and it was done ridiculously bad, there were fight scenes but they were bad fight scenes. The fights were awfully choreographed like the director got his child to choreograph the scenes for him. You could barely see anything when there was a fight because there was a weird cinematography that was used during the scenes, it will remind you of the type in "Warriors of Virtue" used in a bad way. The story goes everywhere before it ends, the princess's character is written poorly. She's supposed to be in deep love but how does fall in love with a guy she just met and then fall in love with another guy.
The thing with "The Promise" is not the back-story because it is interesting but the way it develops is crazy its too slow and makes feelings unrealistic. How can you truly believe that the princess is in love when she just met the guy and even worse isn't even the guy that she thinks saved her. Despite a bad script the actors keep you interested in the film until the end. The settings are undoubtedly beautiful, which is noticed right from the beginning, but the CGI should have been scrapped and done with more taste. The fights which were suppose to be a big part of this film could have helped give this film more interest and life but that fails. All you will be watching this film for is its gorgeous settings.
`Wu Ji' (meaning `No Limitation') is an epic-scale romance directed by renowned Chen Kaige (`Farewell My Concubine' 'Together'). Like the fantasy tales of `Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' `Hero' and `House of the Flying Daggers,' you can say the film belongs to the film genre usually called `wusha,' but what is impressive about 'Wu Ji' (or `The Promise' with international title) is its cast and crew gathered for the production. But about that, later.
[STORY: LITTLE GIRL] The film opens with a memorable shot, in which an orphaned girl wanders among the dead bodies of warriors in the battlefield. The starving girl meets a beautiful but haughty deity Manshen, the Sorceress (Chen Hong, also co-producer and Chen Kaige's wife), who promises the little girl Quingcheng everything - easy life, status, etc. - on one condition. That is, Quingcheng can never get true love from anyone. And the goddess says: `Once you have accepted your destiny, nothing can alter it unless rivers flow uphill, time runs backwards, and the dead come back to life.' She accepts it, not knowing what the pact really means.
[GENERAL AND SLAVE] Years later, the film introduces us to another battlefied, a ravine where Guanming, The Mighty General (Hiroyuki Sanada `The Last Samurai') is waiting for the next battle. The army of the General is outnumbered by the enemy soldiers, but the General, overconfident and very arrogant, is saved by the miraculous work by one slave Kunlun (Jang Dong-Gun, 'The Brotherhood of War'). Greatly impressed by the superhuman power of Kunlun (who can "run" with lightning speed even on four limb), the General takes Kunlun under his wing, and continues his battles.
The plot thickens when grown-up Quingcheng, now the Princess (Cecilia Cheung), is kidnapped by Kunlun who disguises himself wearing the armor of the General. While Kunlun is enchanted by the beauty of the Princess/Quingcheng, she is also in love with this brave man in gorgeous armor, thinking that he is the General, not the slave.
[TWO MEMORABLE SUPPORTS] The three principal players Hiroyuki Sanada, Jang Dong-Gun and Cecilia Cheung are all good, but probably Nicholas Tse as ruthless Wuhuan and Liu Yeh as assassin Snow Wolf will linger in your memory much longer with their long fight sequence (with clever use flying fans). Nicholas Tse succeeds in making the role of the `villain' surprisingly three-dimensional, and Liu Yeh gives a credible portrait as a killer, or a doomed man who must accept the fact he cannot escape from the inevitable fate.
As is seen in `House of the Flying Daggers' the story of `Wu Ji' is generally melodramatic, but that didn't bother me. What is regrettable is that for all the good acting from these actors, the director fails to explore the romantic side of the story. The film's pace is often too slow, sometimes digressing into a sub-plot, and the film's tone is sometimes ineptly chosen. (With not-so-great CGI, some part of the film looks unintentionally comical).
[WELL, THE SPECIAL EFFECTS ARE ... er ... UNIQUE] What should I say? I am trying not to use the standard of Hollywood (which is not perfect, you know), but even so, the effects of `Wu Ji' look awfully misguided, or at least far from sophisticated. `Bad' is not the right word, for several effects are actually beautifully done. Still, in this epic fantasy, handsome and talented Jang Dong-Gun must run madly on four limbs, among the stampede of the wild bulls ... and he wins the race! Cecilia Cheung's Princess is literally kept in a cage (and herself in a while bird-like costume), and she actually `flies.' There is nothing subtle about Chen Kaige's use of CGI, and some of them may make the audiences giggle at the most serious moment.
The fantastic photography is by Peter Pau (`Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon') and the beautiful costume by Kimiya Masago and Tin Yip. Well, I don't know why Chen Kaige insisted on the use of these special effects when he can liberally use their excellent works. The music is by Klaus Badelt (`Time Machine' and others).
It is reported that `Wu Ji' is the most expensive film ever made in China, and looking at the picture, you can easily see where all these money went. It is regrettable that more refined storytelling and more restrained CGI images would be much effective and desirable in this epic romance film.
However, this film is definately not for everyone. If you have a problem with wuxia films, then you are definately not going to like this. To appreciate the genre, one must accept that the characters are endowed with supernatural abilities. I've spoke to many people who don't like wuxia because they think they're unrealistic. Curiously, these same people have no problem with "The Matrix" and "Star Wars", which are equally unrealistic. And if you're just looking for eye candy and cool fight scenes, you may be equally disappointed. While "The Promise" has both eye candy and action in spades, it also contains a very complex plot. You really have to pay close attention, or you're going to get lost very quickly. I would reccomend you watch "Fearless" instead. That's a film that's not only great, but also quite easy to follow.
But if I had to choose between the two, I'd choose this one. I like films that really push the envelope and strive to succeed on every level. "The Promise" delivers. Highly recomended.
It goes without saying that in order to fully appreciate this film you need to have a deep love of cinematography, an interest in Chinese independent films, and an open mind.
With that being said, all that's left is to sit back and let the magic unfold.
This film perfectly illustrates what our most vivid interpreted fairy tails would look like. The colors are deep and saturated, the characters are exaggerated and play their roles well, and the setting is otherworldly while still being familiar.
I will admit that certain scenes were a bit too ambitious for the special effects the production team had at their disposal, but the beauty of the overall experience makes up for a few botched scenes.
I recommend watching the original, uncut film with subtitles and then going back and watching the dub to allow yourself ample time to just look at the film. To really take it in to fully realize the mastery in the sets, costumes and over all design.
If you're at all interested in this film, see it. It is breath taking. A rare gem. Not a material arts action movie, but rather a fairy tail romance brought to life.
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