Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chen Kaige's The Promise... I would rename it, The Pau

Ever since I saw the trailer for Chen Kaige's The Promise in the movie theatre, I knew right away I had to watch it on the big screen. It looked spectacular! The battle scenes alone promised to be a Chinese version of Lord Of The Rings. And this was one director who knows how to make a movie. I couldn't wait to catch the film!

So last night, The Flyer and I trooped off to GV Tiong Bahru to catch the 9pm screening. I was excited. We were in for a real treat.

The movie began. The colours were brilliant, almost cartoonish. The effects were stunning. The shots were no less than gorgeous. It was looking good. Pretty darn good!

Within 15 minutes came the battle scene. Yippee! The warriors' costumes were beautifully designed. In fact, they were almost too beautiful to be manly, and too exquisite-looking to be fought in. But, what the heck? That's a small, lovely-looking bungle. I can overlook that.

Hiroyuki Sanada as General Guang Ming
Then came the 'big deal' of the movie -- the running of the bulls.

Erm... I think that their computer graphic designers probably didn't spend enough time studying the way the bulls move... and that Chen Kaige made a horrible mistake thinking that having his hero (the slave, Kunlun) running quickly on all fours is a cool thing. I say this simply because that entire scene was awful. It was bad. It was so bad... it was really sad.

It was at this point in the movie that it hit me. This movie that I was expecting to be like Lord Of The Rings was turning out dreadfully to be more like Kung Fu Hustle. Oh crap...

Things go downhill quickly from here.

Jang Dong-Kun as the slave named Kunlun
The plot is a wafer-thin one to begin with. The story starts with a goddess/fairy/ghost (I still can't figure out which she is) violating children protection rights. She, played by Chen Hong, forces the poor, starving, orphaned child (the young Qing Cheng) to make a gigantic, life-changing, fully committal decision (at that young age!) -- one that dooms her to a life of never being able to hold on to true love. Stupid and typical.
Then the plot is made even more laughable by giving Kunlun the dumbest superpower ever -- the ability to run... to run so fast he can go back in time. To dumb down the power even more, it is made sure he only achieves the full power towards the end of movie, which means that he only uses it twice. Boring!

Cecilia Cheung as Princess Qing Cheng
Cecilia Cheung was a poor choice as lead actress. She was completely unbelievable as a seductive, victimised beauty. Her acting was so wooden, Pinnochio would have easily beaten her to the Oscar. And while Cecilia is a goodlooking lady in most movies, they have succeeded in making her look quite awful here. The make-up artist decided to go with a strong white foundation all over the face, yellow powder on the lower eye lids, and much of nothing else for a healthy glow. So you can just imagine... Princess Qing Cheng looked more like a whithering ping ren. Chen Kaige, as director, should have reminded them that this was "the beauty of all beauties". She shouldn't be looking sallow, jaundiced and completely malnourished!

Nicholas Tse plays effeminate baddie, Wuhuan, the Duke of the North
I noticed this, and it wasn't just me, but almost all the men (be they goodie or baddie) were very... er... feminine. They spoke softly. Their movements were girlish. And they all had at least one sob scene each where they wept buckets. Except for General Guang Ming, you would have thought the rest of the cast were played by convent school girls.

On the left is Cecilia Cheung donning a cloak of feathers, and on the right is Jang Dong-Kun looking like a runaway from Cirque du Soleil

The climatic scene that kicks off with the mighty General needle-stitching the baddie's outfit
Of course, like in all endings, the villain must reveal the reason for his blackened heart, his irredeemable evilness. In this one, the big reason would be... drum roll please... ... ... a small pau stolen from him as a boy. What the @%#$*^@...!!!

Hiroyuki Sanada, the only thing worth seeing in this silly movie

The only thing that was good about The Promise was Japanese actor, Hiroyuki Sanada. His acting was superb. He was funny, macho, and could really cry convincingly. The other villain-turns-good character, played by Liu Ye, comes next. The rest are forgettable.

I'm sorry if I spoilt anyone's weekend plans to go watch this movie. But better that I save you time and money that you can now spend on a more worthwhile movie.

King Kong or Narnia anyone?

~5-Cat Style


Anonymous said...

hmmm..... ok , I hope u learn your lesson -- read the reviews first before heading to the cinema. I guess the time can be spent better with your very adorable cats!

lechatrouge said...

hahahaha... i think you better save your moolah on king kong too! heard from ppl who has already watched it that ain't that good.

i for one don't go to the cinemas... dun really enjoy sharing my lesiure time with crowds of sorts, haha!

i rent my movies from Hollywood Clicks... although i dun get to watch the latest movies immediately, i dun see the rush to do so either ;-)

$35 a month for all i can watch... like a buffet, hehehe

=^..^= said...

Actually I found King Kong quite entertaining... I could almost feel a tear about to trickle down my oily face.


~The Flyer

jennifer_yq said...

thank for the reviews,sound similar to that given in the straits times.. i think i givin this movie a miss.

lechatrouge said...

to each his own ;-)

for every thing created, there is always a fair share of supporters.

like Charlie & the Choc Factory (CCF), there are activists rising against this movie because it influences children to become fat... (!!) there is always something to say about everything!

i enjoyed CCF for the underlining moral of the story thing and the quirkiness of johnny d. can't wait to catch his next controversial movie - THE LIBERTINE!