The Promise (Master of Crimson Armor) (Wu ji) (2005)



Critic Consensus: An incoherent plot and ridiculously obvious CGI effects doom this effort from the usually outstanding Chinese director Chen Kaige.

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Movie Info

Love and war conspire to create a romantic triangle in this lavish historical epic from director Chen Kaige. A young girl who has lost her parents to the violence of war bravely refuses to obey the orders of a warrior's son, and is approached by a spirit who offers her a life of wealth and power as a reward, but with a catch -- she will never know the love of a man unless she learns how to bring the dead back to life by turning back time. Two decades later, the orphaned girl has become Qingcheng … More

Rating: PG-13 (for stylized violence and martial arts action)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Kaige Chen, Zhang Tan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 18, 2007
Box Office: $0.6M
Warner Independent Pictures - Official Site

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as Gen. Guangming

as Kunlun

as Princess Qingcheng

as Wuhuan

as Snow Wolf

as Snow Wolf

as Manshen

as One-eye

as Kunlun's Mother

as Kunlun's Mother

as Young Wuhuan

as Young Quincheng

as Young Quingcheng
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Promise (Master of Crimson Armor) (Wu ji)

All Critics (77) | Top Critics (29)

Has been criticized by some reviewers for its low-tech special effects. Curiously, I found this technical transparency part of the film's enormous charm.

May 25, 2006
New York Observer
Top Critic

Chen Kaige clearly intended this Chinese fantasy-action spectacle to top Zhang Yimou's Hero, and I must admit that I prefer it to the earlier movie.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The Promise is too full of frenetic disconnection and arbitrary comings and goings to connect meaningfully with the hearts and minds of its audience.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
Washington Post
Top Critic

With The Promise Chen Kaige has proven enough of a professional that he can make the product. But he remains too much of an artist not to scribble on his signature.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Chen's strength seems to be more with character-driven stories; here's hoping that his next film returns to more comfortable ground.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Laden with a plot that could generously be called silly or, less forgivingly, stupid, it never achieves lift-off despite numerous scenes of warriors doing battle in midair.

Full Review… | May 5, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Promise (Master of Crimson Armor) (Wu ji)

A famous and well respected general and his faithful slave vie for the affections of a beautiful princess while battling the evil ruler of their land. Inevitably trying to ape the epic scale and poetry of the likes of Crouching Tiger or Hero, The Promise is actually just a dim-witted fairy tale populated with badly acted cartoon characters who spout inane fortune cookie platitudes at one another. Visually, the costume design is as attractive as you'd expect but there's also some very dodgy set design and an overuse of awful, cheap looking CGI. There is no narrative flow or even logic to the story and Kaige Chen is clearly just a hack Michael Bay wannabe, making this stir-fried turkey one of the worst examples of the Americanization of Asian cinema I've yet seen. Avoid.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


In a world where people running as fast as the wind drag girls on leashes behind them like kites anything's possible. So no one should make the mistake and compare this to fantastic but somewhat historical movies like Hero. This is pure fantasy, even without made-up creatures. The plot of the cursed girl between three men isn't entirely new but the story remains rather unpredictable in all its craziness. It's not always entirely certain why the characters act the way they do, but each and every frame of this movie looks like a frikkin picture. Its picture should be in dictionaries under eye candy. The stunningly beautiful cinematography, sets, costumes and design combined with a pompous soundtrack make up for a lot of plot holes and create a larger than life experience of epic proportions. When the ugly guy in black is not the villain and the pretty bad guy still has the feather-like hairdo after taking his helmet off you realize you're in the middle of a real life manga. The result is so very entertaining, that all its flaws are easily ignored.

Jens S.

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"The Promise" starts out with a young girl, Qingcheng, forced to scavenge food from dead soldiers to feed herself. After having lost a morsel of food, she is approached by the goddess Manshen(Hong Chen) and told that she has a great destiny ahead of her. In exchange, she will lose every man she ever loves. Qingcheng agrees.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Flashforward to General Guangming(Hiroyuki Sanada) whose forces are being outnumbered 20,000 to 3,000 against a horde of barbarians. He uses 133 slaves to smoke out the enemy attack, a stampede of bulls, which they do. One of the slaves, Kunlun(Dong-Kun Jang), stops crawling(slaves can only kneel and crawl which makes it very inconvenient if you need them to get something off the top shelf) and begins running very quickly. He outruns the bulls and leads them back to the barbarians, giving the general's forces a rout.(Kunlun is then drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the NFL draft.) The general is so impressed, he appoints Kunlun as his personal slave.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]And, what about Qingcheng(Cecilia Cheung), you ask? Well, she married the king(Cheng Qian) and is now a princess but the castle is being besieged by the Duke of the North, Wuhuan(Nicholas Tse). So, Qingcheng is on the roof about to invent the striptease as Kunlun rides in masqueraded as General Guangming(long story, trust me)...[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"The Promise" may be great looking but it is still a mess and it gets more convoluted as it goes along. And it feels like there were essential scenes cut out of it which would have added much needed substance. Overall, the central lessonof the movie is not to make any potentially life changing decisions while on an empty stomach.[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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