More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look75%
Average: 18.75%
Pretty Bad: 6.25%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 2 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears by Jay Seaver

Dealer/Healer by Jay Seaver

City Without Baseball by Jay Seaver

Invisible Man, The (2020) by Rob Gonsalves

Hunt, The (2020) by Rob Gonsalves

Da 5 Bloods by Rob Gonsalves

Hamilton by Peter Sobczynski

Outpost, The by Peter Sobczynski

Audition, The by Jay Seaver

Sometimes Always Never by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Promise, The (2006)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Doug Bentin

"It’s all wonderfully colorful and exotic."
4 stars

“The Promise” cries out for the brilliance of western computer graphics, but if it were remade in America—not that there’s much chance of that—it would have to be directed by Chen Kaige, creator of the original Chinese version.

As the film opens, we are on the field of battle after death has claimed the soldiers. A little girl swipes a piece of bread from the clutched fist of a corpse only to have it grabbed away from her by a young boy in a suit of armor. He offers to return it if she will be his slave. Starving, she agrees but then conks him with his own helmet, grabs the pitiful meal, and rushes away.

She meets the goddess Manshen by a lake (Chen Hong) who tells her that she can lead a life of riches if she will agree to one proviso: that any man she falls if love with, she will lose. Money or happiness? That’s no choice for a child who is hungry.

Twenty years later, that girl has grown into Qingcheng (Cecilia Cheung), consort of the king. She is stolen from him by Kunlun (Jang Dong-kun), a slave who is wearing his master’s armor and is thereby mistaken to be the great general Guangming (Hiroyuki Sanada). The general is the sworn enemy of Wuhuan (Nicholas Tse) who uses his slave/assassin Snow Wolf (Liu Ye) to find Qingcheng.

I hope I haven’t given you a headache because despite the confusion an overly simple plot synopsis might create, “The Promise” is as easy to follow on screen as the most basic fable. And that’s what it is—a story of wizards and warriors, love and death, happiness found and lost. There really aren’t any other significant characters in the story and each of these is dressed distinctively so they are easy to tell apart from a distance.

Director of photography Peter Pau does wonders with the palette of rich colors as utilized by production designer Tim Yip. With a budget of around 35 million dollars, “The Promise” is the most expensive film ever made in China, and when the special effects are not on the screen, it looks it. All goes well until the CG take over, and then you probably won’t be able to keep from jerking away from the experience of the film’s color and romance by it’s 1970s level special effects.

And the real shame is that the imagination of writers Zhang Tan and Chen Kaige is so much more challenging than that on display in most Hollywood effects movies. If Kaige had available technology to create what he saw in his mind, this would be a classic fantasy.

As it is, I can only recommend the movie to people who know they can accept inferior screen visuals. If bad effects make you giggle, this is not the movie for you.

And that’s a pity because “The Promise” is rich tale of those things which are fundamentally alike in all cultures. Honor. Fear. Loyalty. Love. Love is always the same.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/20/06 03:27:34
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/20/06 William Goss A gaudy spectacle of excess best viewed as parody. 2 stars
5/06/06 Heather Runyan didn't like it at all 2 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  05-May-2006 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Chen Kaige

Written by
  Chen Kaige

  Hiroyuki Sanada
  Nicholas Tse
  Jang Dong-Kun
  Cecilia Cheung

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast