The title, “The Promise,” meant nothing to me. I had never heard the name before and went out to the advance screening of it with no expectations of any kind. Once the movie began, I quickly found myself enthralled by a film that brought a mythical Chinese tale to life in the best means possible.
The entire film has a near-storybook tone. From the introduction of a series of elaborate pieces of art to backgrounds that seemed taken from an illustrated book, the film consistently maintained the feeling of myth brought to life.
Keeping in the genre of action films such as “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle,” most of the action sequences in “The Promise” consisted of the impossible being done. You know what I’m talking about. With swordfights on bamboo, guys running on walls, and that whole sort of thing the film reached the point where while it looked gorgeous, it became silly.
The only battle sequence that was any good was early on in the film and reminded me of a video game called “Dynasty Warriors.” Everything else action-wise just felt overdone and mostly needless. It didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film, but it did affect my overall judgment of it.
One of the things that stood out in this film was the use of colors, especially with costumes. Every main character was associated with a specific color and had elaborate costumes. The mighty general wore bright red armor with a golden helmet. The slave wore more red-hued forest colors. This color indication ran well with the Chinese mythology, giving the story a unique artistic value to appreciate along with the story itself.
I did enjoy the film. It was better than trying to read a myth out of a book. At the same time, I believe the replay value of the film will be zero. It was enjoyable the first time around, but I probably would not go see it again unless I was with a group of friends who wanted to see it. More than likely we would make fun of it as we watched, but that is our bad habit really.
Steven Modugno can be reached at email@example.com