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Rated PG-13 · 103 minutes · 2006

Action/Adventure, Drama
Coming closer even than Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers to resembling the Chinese cover art for an Iron Butterfly album, Chen Kaige's movie is clotted with cartoon-poetic imagery: floating ocean goddesses, flying swordsmen, Final Fantasy waterscapes, horse manes dyed red. The assault of chintz is relentless, but it's also wildly campy. The cursed heroine (Cecilia Cheung) is kept prisoner in a giant birdcage that would've pleased Siegfried & Roy; eye shadow, feather boas, and scarlet capes are de rigueur for the men. More effort has been expended on the knights' Vegas-style ensembles than on a coherent narrative (which, reportedly, has been edited up and down from the Chinese version), and the upshot is a new-millennium epic that risks all of its marbles on nonsensical style. Chen's story is harebrained but hardly simple, conflating the fates of Cheung's princess, a likable windbag of a general (Hiroyuki Sanada), and his devoted slave (Jang Dong-gun). But who loves who and why is never made clear, and the mano a mano is managed via quick edits, not the actors' movements.
Official Site: wip.warnerbros.com/promise
Director: Chen Kaige
Writer: Chen Kaige and Zhang Tan
Producer: Chen Kaige, Etchie Stroh, Chen Hong and Han San Ping
Cast: Hiroyuki Sanada, Jang Dong-kun, Cecilia Cheung, Nicholas Tse and Liu Ye

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