The Promise (2005)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2006-04-07
Summary: A multi-national cast in a very good fairy tale...
"The Promise" is a fantastical fairy-tale like story that seems to fit comfortably in the realm of the wuxia film. Jang Dong-Gun is Kunlun the Slave, whose extraordinary speed allows him to literally rise up and serve General Guangming (Hiroyuki Sanada), aka The Master of Crimson Armor, in his quest to capture the capital city and with it the love of the stunning Princess Qingcheng (Cecilia Cheung). In his way is the Duke Wuhuan (Nicholas Tse) who is determined to win the heart of Qingcheng and destroy Guangming in the process. After a case of mistaken identity begins to take the characters into places their hearts weren't expecting, the story shifts to one of revenge, redemption and heartbreak.

I really enjoyed this movie, as it was a departure, both story wise and visually, from the average movie released these days. It almost had a Star Wars like feel to it, with different tribes and people from all over the world having different powers and abilities. This lent to the fantasy feel and imbued the film with a great sense of wonder. The multi-national cast (Sanada is Japanese, Jang is Korean and the majority of rest of the cast is Chinese) does a great job as does the director. As critics have contended, the special effects are a little clunky, but the parts they portray are good enough in my opinion to make you forget about the visuals and focus on the excitement, especially in the scene with the rampaging bulls. Nicolas Tse also deserves mention for extending himself beyond the pretty-boy persona and adding a great portrayal to the screen. I look forward to more work by Chen Kaige and hope he continues to work in the fantasy drama arena.
Reviewer Score: 7