DVD Review: The Promise
By Jeff Swindoll Jan 4, 2007, 12:39 GMT
The Promise is somewhat of a flawed film. It is a visual feast and features some very good set and costume design as well as interesting set pieces throughout the film.
This Chinese import is visually stunning and creative, but suffers in the scripting department. Perhaps it has because it was chopped up by the studio. It’s interesting none the less.
A young girl is orphaned and impoverished when she is met by the Goddess Manshen (Hong Chen). She’s given a deal by the goddess, she will have the admiration of every man she meets, but she will not be able to be with the man she loves for this tradeoff. She accepts and many years pass. The ruthless General Guangming, who wears striking crimson armor, will stop at nothing to win a battle.
Especially sacrificing thousands of slaves who will be sent into battle to be sacrificed before his army enters the melee. One of those slaves is Kunlun (Dong-Kun Jang) who has the ability to run like the wind – literally. Kunlun escapes the battle relatively unscathed and the General takes him for his slave. The General and Kunlun are making their way to the King’s palace when they’re set upon by the assassin Snow Wolf (Ye Liu) and the General is wounded.
Snow Wolf recognizes the speed of Kunlun as a trait of his clan, the Snow People. He does not complete his task of killing the General and leaves Kunlun. Kunlun is told by the General to don his crimson armor and rush to save the King. The King is being set upon by the villain Wuhaun (Nicholas Tse). Kunlun attempts to follow his master’s orders with disastrous results.
What does happen is that he rescues Princess Qingcheng (Cecelia Cheung), who is the girl who made the deal with the Goddess Manshen. What results is a case of mistaken identity as to who her rescuer is since the helmet of the crimson armor hides the identity of the wearer. Kunlun also comes to find out what happened to the Snow People and how Wuhaun was involved in what befell them.
The Promise is somewhat of a flawed film. It is a visual feast and features some very good set and costume design as well as interesting set pieces throughout the film. It was the most expensive film in China at the time and was nominated for a Golden Globe (that it did not win).
What is flawed is that a lot of the story is sacrificed for visuals. This might have to do with the fact that the film ran 128 minutes in China and has been trimmed to 103 minutes for American consumption. The film has a certain fairytale quality to it, but also has a fairytale logic to it. What this means is that some plot points are not fully explained fully (this might also have to do with the cuts made to this version).
It also suffers from some poor CGI work, strange this since it was supposed to be so well budgeted in it’s home country. I imagine that the technology is not up to snuff in China? There’s a bull stampede that looks rather fake and some of the renderings of the palace of the King seem like really bad video game graphics. The picture does have some interesting characterizations and costume design.
The Promise is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions.
Special features include the 39 minute Chinese television special “The Making of the Promise.” There are also 7 deleted scenes totaling 22 minutes. These appear to be the scenes that were excised to make the American version. It’s a shame that the original 128 minute cut is not on this disc because these scenes do add something to the picture. Finally, the theatrical trailer is included.
The Promise is a visually interesting film, but some gaps just make it an interesting rental. The Chinese version of the film seems the better cut and it’s a shame that only the truncated American version is on this disc. It’s visually interesting, but slightly flawed, film.