A promising story left unfulfilled

Review C-

May 05, 2006|By MICHAEL SRAGOW | MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Not long ago, every major American director felt compelled to mount a large-scale Western to show the world what he could do with a classic native form. Often, the result would be a stiff or a debacle - most spectacularly, Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate.

I hope the same thing isn't happening with Chinese directors and sweeping medieval martial-arts fantasies. After Ang Lee set the trend with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (a giant hit, though I found it just as draggy and opaque as I do most of Ang Lee's work), Zhang Yimou justified it with Hero and brought it to delirious heights with House of Flying Daggers, a masterpiece of amorous action poetry.

The Promise (Warner Independent) Starring Hiroyuki Sanada, Jang Dong Gun, Cecilia Cheung, Nicholas Tse and Liu Ye. Directed by Chen Kaige. Rated PG-13. Time 102 minutes.

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