The Promise, Part 1
In short : If ever a movie can be termed, 'Made in China', this is it : half the quality, double the money.
Title word count : Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - The Promise
Director : Zhang Yimou - Chen Kaige
Skinny Lead Actress : Zhang Ziyi - Cecilia Cheung (henceforth known as Zhang Ziyi Lite)
Lead Actor : Chow Yun Fatt - Some big-eyed korean dude
Weapon : Legendary Sword of Doom - Armour infitted with roses.
Villian : Scary Ass Bitch - Nicholas Tse in drag
You get my drift. COMPLETELY on crack but hilarious shit, honestly.
The long version :
Anyway, it's supposed to be one of those movies along the lines of Hero and Crouching Tiger. It reeks of emo, in the trailer, in the posters, in Nicholas Tse, in the token korean actor with big eyes. (Even if I was a bit apprehensive about the famous Hong Kong poker face Cecilia Cheung being the leading lady). And in the beginning it seems that way, and we're all gearing up for some vague chinese dialogue, flying hair and dramatic sword fighting, bad translations and great battle scenes...
and then we see the Cockroach.
and the Flying Chinese Chicken.
and LITTLE GIRL JESUS.
I cannot tell you the number of times I smacked my forehead at this movie.
So it starts out with a little girl wearing a freakish amount of scrap material prising an extremely clean bun from the hands of a dead soldier.
The camera zooms out slowly from a white bun. There was a great battle! Many lives were lost! the scene implies. And then it pans out and you see about .. 4 men.
In any case, what was the soldier thinking as he died with a bun in his hand instead of a weapon? FOOD FIGHT?
Then, for no apparent reason, the girl turns around and tugs off the boots of a random dead soldier hung on a tree branch.
And then the soldier wakes up.
okay no. it's actually a little kid in armour with massive panda eyes. He grabs the bun from her and pushes her into a trap that hangs her upside down. Her dress doesn't tumble over her head and earn the movie an icky 18-SX rating because this is a fantasy movie and gravity doesn't apply (see : Crouching Tiger, hidden Dragon, Hero, Kungfu Hustle).
The little bits of brown scrap material do however, hang down and make her look a little like a pinecone.
then the boy spouts some banter about 'my father is dead so all these dead soldiers are mine, and those boots are mine, and i'm not dead so that bun is mine and you are by default, mine, because the bun is mine and YOU ARE HOLDING THE BUN.'
The kid really needs to get some sleep.
anyway so the girl whiles her way out of it by promising to be his slave. then the boy lets her down and she's all like oh what a pretty helmet (clues you in to his personality a bit later). so the boy is like, oh really? you like it? and takes it off to give to her. then she whacks him on the head with it and runs away.
i told you he needed more sleep.
for some reason the little girl does not want to eat her conquered bun and is sitting on a log partly submerged in a lake.
I want that bun, little girl
i don't know how the girl got there, because it's a log in a lake... annd.. that's it.
a goddess pops up from the water and asks her to make a choice between beauty, wealth and adoration and LOVE. TRUE LOVE.
the girl chooses beauty, wealth and adoration.
what a typical hong kong girl.
anyway this immediately takes effect and the little girl, apparently, is now JESUS H. CHRIST. she walks on water into a yellow light.
fast forward five minutes later and a general is directing his 2000 men against
also, a gazillion cows.
I kid you not.
anyway, all the general's men are wearing, bright, only found in china, crimson red. They have lotuses on their shields. Everyone is very clean. The general himself has actual roses in his armour plate and some crazy gold headgear.
China meets its first metrosexual.
The next 40 minutes means well as an introduction to the lead character, but it's so.. so.... mind.. numbing.. and.....anyway it involves cows.
Basically the black army has sent the cows at the red army WITHOUT CHECKING IF THEY'RE ACTUALLY THERE. In the same convenient logic, the general thinks that if the cows squash some extras, ANY extras, the black army will be convinced they've destroyed his army even though they're standing on the top of the cliff with their BRIGHT ASS CRIMSON COSTUMES.
I know you don't understand, but I DONT EITHER.
So 51 slaves are sent out to stand against the stampeding cows.
The climax is when the only surviving slave, kunlun (the korean dude), crawls on his hands and knees and overtakes the stampeding cows, saves his slave master (who then proceeds to die) and then crawl-run along a steep cliff face.
That looks familiar, I've seen that effect before; in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (which is, by the way, a great game if only i won).
No one in the black army notices that the canyon is shaped like a 'U', so the cows just run straight into them again. Unfortunately, none of them can run along a cliff face, so they're screwed. Anyway, we're all very bored at this point because we were gearing for the graceful dismemberment of several dozen chinese extras with a legendary sword or something but all we're getting is really bad CGI.
But lo and behold! the general DOES do something! he's riding out into the black army and swings his horny plasticky gold mace flattening everyone in a perfect circle!
Again, where have I seen this move before?
Dynasty Warriors 5
The irony is that Dynasty Warriors 5 probably has better CGI.
From this point on, the best part of this movie is Nicholas Tse. I never thought i'd ever say what i just said, but it's true.
After the battle, the general receives a message that the emperor is being held on a rooftop by the Duke of the North, henceforth known as Nicholas Tse because it's a long ass title to type. he sends kunlun wearing his very cool armour to the palace instead.
Anyway, kunlun then kills the emperor.
apparently, he didn't get the part the general was going on about 'save the emperor from the duke of the north'
he saves cecilia cheung instead, who falls from the roof like a whale in the air into his arms.
it is unclear whether he believed cecilia cheung was the emperor and the emperor was cecilia cheung.
We don't know why they're on the rooftop either.
But that REALLY doesn't matter because : BEHOLD NICHOLAS TSE.
So now you know where half of the 35 million dollar budget went.
You know what a pointer is outside a computer screen no?
Chen Kaige takes the interpretation literally. THIS is nicholas tse's main weapon.
I call this look 'The Very Wise Owl'
At one point, Zhang Ziyi Lite and the
Nicholas Tse responds :
And this. the 'Very, very gay outfit'. Nicholas is very incensed about something, so his pointer is clenched into a passionate fist.
Watch his pointer stick when he destroys the Kryptonites. He's trying to be intimidating while wearing what is clearly fake chest hair.
I love it, it's hilarious. Nicholas actually POKES someone in the head with it in heated battle.
After he defeats the snake guy, his army marches out of the shadows and they all lower their pointer sticks accusingly at him, like spears.
also, death through accusation. hee hee.
And, just for fun :
The blatant cockroach.
Kunlun and cecilia run for it. Nicholas chases kunlun and cecilia onto a cliff. his 6 generals do some impressive kung fu leaps and form!
....a human armchair for nicholas tse.
there is a lot of crack going on in this movie.
some banter, kunlun jumps off the cliff. i don't blame him, I would too if I had Zhang Ziyi Lite as a love interest AND nicholas tse in silver lipstick.
nicholas captures cecilia and puts her into a giant gold bird cage and provides a coat made of feathers.
the symbolism in this movie is subtle.
anyway, a coat of feathers is not as nice as it sounds. Think 19 white chickens steamrolled over and over again. Cecilia looks like a less happy KFC mascot.
Kunlun rescues Cecilia under some ridiculous circumstances and then decides to show his love by...
flying her like a kite.
yea. no, really.
we eventually find out Kunlun is the only survivor of the Land of Snow where its citizens run around like Road Runners, have superhuman strength and also, fly.
Wait, Land of Snow? Don't you mean KRYPTON, Kal-el?
TO BE CONTINUED...