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Written by Sehseh

"Despite his acting capabilities, Jang Dong-gun couldn't save The Promise."


Resposted in here with permission from the reviewer. The original post can be found at Sehseh's Blog.

Released In

Directed by
Chen Kaige

Writing credits
Chen Kaige

Jang Dong-gun Jang .... Kunlun, the slave
Hiroyuki Sanada .... The General, Guangming
Cecilia Cheung ....The concubine, Qing Cheng
Nicholas Tse ....The Duke, Wu Huan
Chen Hong ... Goddess/deity Man Shen
Liu Ye ... Gui Lang

I walked out of the cinema laughing. The ending of The Promise was so abrupt and absurd that it left all audiences in the cinema bewildered. “I can't believe I spent 23 bucks and two days struggling to book tickets for this!”

What went wrong? The special effect was impressive, the cast was made of beautiful people and it was helmed by acclaimed director Chen Kaige.

At first glance, I would like to blame it all on Nicholas Tse. If there is an award for fakest acting in 2005, I would gladly hand it to him. Strange enough, I don’t hate him because I laughed uncontrollably (and still do at this moment) every time he went over-melodramatic, specifically his crying scene; or rather those Optrex eye drops scenes. Gawd… I'm cringing AND laughing at the memory of two damn eye drops running down his pretty cheeks. Coupled with his sissy monologue, that was more than enough to spell disaster. What was Chen Kaige thinking?!

4. Snow Wolf was in love with Kunlun. Our fears were confirmed in that embrace scene before Snow Wolf’s demise. The cinema was cringing and guy behind me says “That is so GAY!” (Note: I have nothing against gay people but that scene gave me goose bumps!)

5. Qing Cheng was in love with the Master of the Crimson Armor (which is both Kunlun and Guangming)

Oh yeah, just in case you're curious, Cecilia's gratuitous nudity and sex scenes were censored off but we still get to see her smooching Sanada countless times. Now, speaking of Cecilia, she’s pretty but she does not embody the drop dead gorgeous Qing Cheng, who was supposed to be the most beautiful woman walking on earth. Chen Kaige shouldn't try to shove that down our throats when she first appeared. “See! The men are weak on their knees just at the sight of her! Behold, her cape falls and the soldiers collapsed in a heaps from her scents! SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!”

Again, due to scripting, The Promise reduced a competent actress like Cecilia into a very confused character. One moment she was cold hearted, split seconds she was very happily in love, next she was a maniacal slut.

The character General Guang Ming does have a lot of room for character development and I feel that it was a pity that Sanada was somehow put aside from the limelight. I mean, who will notice him when other big stars like Jang Dong-gun and Cecilia was around? Even Nicholas got more media coverage than him. Frankly I like this character but not enough to be most favorite because of one scene. The scene where his deputy general came to invite him back to the imperial city and he agonizes over the fact that he Qing Cheng disallowed him to. Come on, he is the mighty general, the Master of Crimson Armor, for God's sake! Why is he whimpering behind that woman?!

Despite his acting capabilities, Jang Dong-gun couldn't save The Promise. First; his very limited dialogue which leads to having him having to use his facial expression as means to act. Second; his face was filthy 90% of his screen time so you can’t really see much apart from his big eyes. The only time you see him clean with Pantene straight hair was in his flashback scene back in Snow Country.

I wonder if Jang Dong-gun regretted agreeing to work on this project now because it's a total waste of time, money and talent. Anyway, only his character was consistent but I really hope for character development and more dialogue because he was suppose to be the leading actor! Somehow feel a little cheated because we want to see his handsome face and all we see is a dark face with very bad hair. Hmmph!

I always save the best for the last. Dum…dum… dum: Nicholas Tse!

What?! We thought you said his acting is terrible?! Hey, I still do think he couldn't act, and shouldn't act – period. Okay… I like the character Wu Huan, which is a totally kick ass villain but of course Nicholas (bad) acting ruined it for me. Wu Huan is my favorite character based on his characteristics alone. But I couldn't hate Nicholas because while his acting is so terrible, instead of wanting to throw bottles at the screen, we actually laughed! I mean, there it was, a serious scene but we were all breaking into laughter! In another word, his badly timed expression actually made me enjoy the movie for all it's worth.

By the way, his character reminds me of two people, which are Versace and Elton. His wardrobes are enough to make Versace turn green with envy in his grave while totally exceeded Elton diva-ness with Wu Huan's constant hissy fits. Oh, by the way, both men were gay as well.


Overall, IMO The Promise was a big flop though the box office records indicate otherwise. I'm thinking maybe because it's the hype that it is Asia's LOTR. Or even Jang Dong-gun & Cecilia crowd pulling capabilities.


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