Utpal Borpujari

September 21, 2009

DVD Reviews: Australia; The Promise

By Utpal Borpujari

Epical Romance

This Nicole Kidman-Hugh Jackman-starrer has the epic look that Baz Luhrmann films are famous for, with the sweeping landscape of the Australian outback serving as the backdrop for a romantic drama. The film is set just prior to the Second World War, with Kidman playing a wealthy Englishwoman who joins hands with Jackman’s local guy to prevent a cattle trader from taking over the land she inherits from her dead husband. Like all Luhrmann films, this one too tends to be melodramatic in patches but scores in the visual department.

The film’s finale is in the backdrop of the Japanese air force’s attack on Darwin, leading to a grand climax. A good weekend watch, this one is.

Australia; 158 minutes; Excel Home Videos, Rs 399

Martial arts fantasy

The Promise is a Wuxia (a genre of fictional martial arts adventure set in ancient China) in the film format, the likes of which we have seen in the shape of “Hero” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. Though Kaige Chen of “Farewell, My Concubine” fame is at its helm, The Promise, however, turns out to be a different ballgame altogether. It is a story that rides heavily on the element of fantasy and use of special effects, with princesses, kings, gods, slaves with superpowers, et al, making up the range of characters that people the film. 

The film suffers from a storyline that has too many subplots with a young orphan who scavenges for food among dead soldiers but later becomes princess at its centre. Nominated for the Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Film, it will be enjoyed by those who love their cinema with a fantasy element. If you are expecting another “Farewell My Concubine” you will be disappointed, but if don’t, it can be an enjoyable fare, particularly if you are a fan of martial arts fables. 

The Promise; China; 121 minutes; Shemaroo World Cinema; Rs 349

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 20-09-2009)


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