Many of the shots are like paintings come to life and are simply, for a lack of a better word, beautiful. The Golden Birdcage scene and Qingcheng’s first encounter with the goddess are two of the most lyrical moments in The Promise. But for every five shots that blow your mind, there will be one that stands out as a great disappointment. One would expect every last effect to be stellar. Many reek of being sub-par, if that. Moments seem too cartoonish, as if what we’re seeing are unfinished works at Disney. The buffalo stampede sequence (which takes place in a location similar to that of a John Ford western) itself looks like an extended scene from The Lion King—sans the Asians.
Somewhat empty along with the CGI is the plot. Director Kaige took a compelling story of forbidden love and passion and made it unnecessarily complex. The film tries to be smarter than it really needed to be, which truly takes away from what could have been one of the great Asian cinematic experiences.
But the movie is highly enjoyable despite its share of flaws. There are numerous exciting battle sequences, along with a few twists worth noting. Just don’t go in expecting another Crouching Tiger-caliber film.
7 Deleted Scenes (22:45), four of which are either extended or alternates. The others don’t offer much else, and were deleted by Warner Independent Pictures before its release presumably for pacing concerns.
And the Theatrical Trailer.