Promise, the/Wu ji - Promise Not Delivered
| A westerner canít help but compare Kaige Chenís The Promise to the recent work of Yimou Zhang. Like the latterís recent films Hero and House of Flying Daggers, The Promise wants to be epic, romantic, lush wuxia. Unfortunately, the comparison does not favour Chen.
Unlike Zhangís films or Leeís Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Promise feels second rate. His contemporaries created perfectly mastered and meticulously rendered epics of great emotional impact and visual beauty. The Promise looks and feels cheap, like a rushed imitation.
The story of The Promise has promise but isnít realized in a way that invests the audience. These films are usually mythical and over the top and must be told with sincerity to be fully appreciated. However The Promise is too tongue in cheek to be believable. This isn't a Stephen Chow film which thrives on it's humour. This, coupled with some of the worst ham acting I have had to endure for a while, keeps the audience from falling in love with the story.
The visuals are a disappointment too. Billed as one of the most beautiful films ever made, The Promise is filled with poorly executed visual effects, silly looking costumes and fake looking exteriors. The art direction seems cheap and Chenís style is too choppy and sloppy to take advantage of whatís there.
Early in the film, a character says that since promises were heard by the Gods they were all lies. This promise turns out to be a lie as well.