I went to watch The Promise last night and it would have been a truly great movie if only it wasn’t so ridiculously presented!
If one manages to sift through all that chaff, the story is actually quite good and the characterization is deep and full of meanings. All the characters: the proud General Quang Ming, Kun Lun who’s on a journey of self discovery, a melancholic and torn Qing Cheng, the enigmatic though empathic General Wu Han and Que Lang the traitorous coward, were well defined. Please give a hand to the cast and Director, Chen Kai Ge, for managing it so well.
For instance, I explain to you this one scene between Que Lang and Kun Lun. Que Lang was telling Kun Lun that to he needed to learn how to run faster than Time itself. So Kun Lun ran to show Que Lang that he could run really fast. But Que Lang merely said that what Kun Lun was doing was fleeing and that to properly run, one must know what one’s heart’s desire is. Only then can he say that he is running. That means that to run, one must be heading towards some goal for if not one will simply be fleeing without purpose. Truly poetic and profound.
However, the rest left much to be desired. Some fight scenes, which were meant to be fantastically awe inspiring, brought the audience out in laughter. It’s disconcerting to watch someone fight so seriously for their lives while the whole theater was in a fit of mirth. For example, the bull chase scene and the part where Kun Lun fought to defend General Quang Ming from Que Lang (in a banana plantation of all places!).
And what’s the deal with the Goddess Man Shen??? That, my dear, is a joke and not a hairdo! The makeup together with the flowing dress and scarf would’ve been enough to present the scene as otherworldly.
By amplifying the scenes in such seemingly minute ways, the Director had managed to turn something fantastic into something ridiculous. Mr. Chen should have learnt that lesson by observing Hero, which bordered on the ridiculous but was somehow saved by the artistic presentation and the gravity of it's scenes.
Overall, I found that the movie was not really worth my RM9.