Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Promise - 52%

I haven't felt so compelled to write a review about a movie for a long time. I have just finished watching a 9pm show and I have to write this before I go to sleep. DO NOT WATCH THE PROMISE. Man this is really one of the worst film I have watched whole year. No make it "the most badly written film I have E-V-E-R watched".

Ok .. now that it is out of my system, here goes. The story is about a beautiful woman in a fictitious country, which is the subject of many powerful men's struggle to gain her love. Yet, she is "cursed" with a promise she made to never be able to receive true love from anyone in return for material wants beyond her wildest dreams. The story revolves around a general, a slave and a usurper who all wants a piece of the girl. But what has gotten into Chen Kaige to spend so much (20million? The most expensive Chinese movie ever made), to direct a story as ludicrous as this one?? This is a mystery I wish to seriously want to unravel. The characters are unbelievably directed to act with almost an operatic fashion that seems to lose balance at the edges of sanity. The lines written are so corny it almost made the film look like a comedy. And again I ask, what has driven to Chen Kaige to stoop so low???

The special effects are terrible. It seems like he has engaged a wrong team to work on the computer effects which are not any better than those we seen these past few years in Chinese movies. Of special mention (not in a good way), were how terrible the animated bulls looked. The stampede scene was almost cartoon-like and considering how I have watched a greatly choreographed stamepede scene (in King Kong), this one was totally unispiring and almost embarrassing in comparison.

The best part of the film? I don't know - why? Because there was a "love making" scene between Ceclilia Chong and Hiroyuki Sanada that was snipped by the censors. It could have provide some serious juice for the film and could have at least been the redeeming factor. :) But seriously, I doubt even if it wasn't cut, the film wouldn't be able to save itself.

The actors were all a waste of talent. And I say this especially for Kang Dong-Jun, Hiroyuki Sanada and Cecilia Chong. And man, it was so sad (and hilarious) to see how the males in the movie were acting like tearful adult gays when they were capable of so much more. Hiroyuki Sanada was great in Twilight Samurai, and what did he see in the script of this one? It will remain a mystery to all.

And then there is the wonderfully incredulous fantasy story that fails to inspire and touch. There was a moment in the film when the protagonists seem to finally come to realization about the misplaced/misundertood love between them that I thought "wow, is the movie actually gonna turn good towards the end and redeem itself after putting the audience through almost 2 hrs of agony?" The answer sadly is no.

So from one of the best Asian film of recent memory - Farewell to my Concubine to the Promise he has delivered today, we see how Mr Chen has succumbed to "commercialism" to make a movie that the public will love. He claims this movie is made with "commercial" intent. And guess what Mr Chen? There are a bunch of good commercial movies out there and this one is not one of them. This is one bad movie with no commercial value. And the mystery of how this movie was ever made by Chen Kaige still lingers ... as I end this review and get ready for bed.


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