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A loose adaptation of Hamlet, "The Night Banquet" is set in an empire in chaos. The Emperor, the Empress, the Crown Prince, the Minister and the General all have their own enemies they would like to finish off at a night banquet.
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When the world was young, laid a Kingdom between the Land of Snow and the Barbarian Territory where gods and men lived side by side and promises were lies. When the poor and starving orphaned girl Qingcheng meets the Goddess Manshen, she accepts to become the wealthy beauty of beauties with the curse that she would lose every man she loves, unless three things happen: snow falls in the spring, time moves backwards and the dead comes back to life. Years later, the slave Kunlun helps the Great General Master of the Crimson Armor Guangming to defeat a barbarian army with almost seven times more warriors, and Kunlun becomes his slave. When Guangming is wounded, he asks Kunlun to wear his armor and save the king from the cruel Duke of the North Wuhuan that put the Imperial City under siege with his army. However, Kunlun kills the king to save Princess Qingcheng and promises her to never let her die. Princess Qingcheng falls in love for the man of the crimson armor that she believes is ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Most comments for "The Promise", or "Wu Ji", on the IMDb forum are mainly negative. While it's obvious a film that could have been better, it still offers a stunning look that Chen Kaige has given it. It helps he was working with an excellent cinematographer, Peter Pau, who photographed this film with lovingly care. The result are exquisite images that might not mean a lot to the fans of films of this genre, but will delight others, like this viewer, who is not into this type of fantasy film. The music of Klaus Badelt plays well in the context of the movie. The film has some of the fabulous costumes of any film in recent memory.
It's easy to dismiss the film as a total failure. Other, more recent fare is cited as being much better, which could be true. But actually to experience the film as a gorgeous fantasy out of the talented director Chen Kaige's mind is worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, judging by the screening we attended recently, this film has not found an audience.
Dong-Kun-Jang is impressive as Kunlun. Hiroyuki Sanada also does good work as the General Quianming. The gorgeous Cecilia Cheung lends her beauty to her character, Princess Qingcheng.
The director will surely recover from this experience and concentrate on a more worthwhile story for his next venture. Chen Kaige deserves better and he will surely rise from the ashes like the magnificent phoenix he is.
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