KLAUS BADELT has seemingly worked himself into becoming one of the more sought-after film composers in the business...including major international productions. Badelt's work for director Chen Kaige's mythic film, THE PROMISE (aka Wu Ji, Master of the Crimson Armor), is some of his most evocative to date and is an entertaining listen from first track to last.
While the THE PROMISE was reported to sport the biggest budget ever given for production of a film in China, it has ended up suffering it's share of international film criticism . . . and some of it justly so. Evenso, as disjointed as the film's story is at times or as querky as the acting becomes, THE PROMISE rarely fails in delivering dazziling imagery and thankfully, for film music fans, never fails in delivering, scene-by-scene, top-notch musical score.
THE PROMISE saw a minimal release in the United States and therefore has flown under the movie-radar of many moviegoers, but with its DVD release, the movie will certainly garner more attention...as will Badelt's epic score. Of course, one not need to get the DVD (or even HD-DVD/Blu-Ray release which will be a real treat for this film), to appreciate the score, as the USA soundtrack was released in May 2006. Strangely enough, while Sony BMG held the rights to release this music elsewhere in the world back in 2005, it chose not to release it in the USA. Enter Superb Records.
Superb Records has given the score a fine treatment with almost 68 minutes of pure "badelight." The packaging features several of stunningly colorful pieces of art from the film and notes from the director, Chen Kaige. The music contained on the CD is a well-balanced representation of the score, not chronologically arranged but arranged for the most entertaining listening experience.
Badelt carefully approaches musical heights found in Kitaro's work for HEAVEN AND EARTH all the way down to the yearning-intimacy of Tan Dun. Further to it's credit, there are very few moments that conjur up thoughts of synthetized, "media-venturisms." Not surprisingly incorporating both Western and Eastern musical elements, THE PROMISE, while a contemporary score...seems to harken back to an age of film music long-gone. Badelt's score ranges from tender to forceful. THE PROMISE truly reaches a new level of depth and musical exhiliration for composer Klaus Badelt. No doubt the bar of expectation continues to rise for him.
Chen Kaige's, big budget, "dream project," THE PROMISE, may not have delivered everything audiences have been expecting (especially Western audiences), but meandering story or not, over-acting or not, visual artistry or not, one element of the film that does deliver on its promise is Badelt's expansive score.