The Promise is a Vietnamese BL series about two stepbrothers and their budding romance. The feisty teenage protagonist has a rocky relationship with his older stepsibling. After getting into trouble at school, the main character is surprised when his nemesis shows sympathetic support. Their relationship improves, but they must navigate their vague and uneasy feelings for each other.
My aversion to stepbrother romances keeps me from embracing The Promise wholeheartedly. I'm also iffy about the constant cliches, convenient coincidences, and childish conflicts during the story. However, this BL series is undeniably well-produced, featuring beautiful visuals, dramatic music, and elegant artistry. The leads also give vibrant and poignant performances that elevate the material.
The Promise Summary
The Promise is a sad & emotional BL drama.
Tan is a high school student. After his father remarries, Tan and his older stepbrother Vu live in the same house. However, the two siblings don't get along. Tan resents Vu and clashes with him frequently. They have a hostile relationship despite being brothers. Even though Tan gets poor grades in school, he won't ask his scholarly older brother for mentoring help.
Recently, Tan was caught cheating on a school test. His classmate Dong tries persuading the teacher to give a lenient punishment. However, Ms. Nuong still demands a parent's signature on a report of what Tan did in class. Her request has troubled Tan, who doesn't want his father to know about the cheating. Tan conspires with his friends, Bich and Loc, to forge a signature. Yet, he can't copy his father's complex signature successfully.
Even though the stepbrothers are in different grades, Dong knows about Tan's cheating. Tan's classmate, Tuyet, has a crush on Dong. She tells her senior about everything that happened in class. During a heated exchange, Dong teases his younger sibling and calls him a cheater. The insult triggers a physical brawl between them. Dong overpowers Tan and almost punches him, but he stops just in time. Afterwards, Dong quietly contemplates his actions.
During dinner, Tan and his dad disagree over his academic performance. Tan's father wants to chat with Ms. Nuong, which worries Tan because of his cheating secret. Surprisingly, Dong helps him cover up the truth and even offers to mentor his little brother. This response appeases Tan's father, so the situation doesn't escalate. Tan is shocked his stepbrother stepped in to help. Reluctantly, he thanks Dong for supporting him.
Later, Tan still tries to forge his father's signature with little success. Dong helps him by recreating the exact signature perfectly. Once again, Tan is grateful for his stepbrother's unexpected kindness. Dong takes one of Tan's miniature toys as payment, joking that the Psyduck looks like his brother. Afterwards, the relationship between the two characters improves. Dong even gives Tan a ride to school every morning. They spend much time bonding and growing closer, unlike before.
The Promise Cast
Hoang Cong Dat (Hoàng Công Đạt)
Tan is a feisty high school student. He struggles academically and even tries to cheat during an exam. Tan resents his older stepbrother, who gets better grades than him. Tan is best friends with Bich and Loc. He also has fond feelings for Dong, the class monitor.
Hoang Cong Dat
Hoang Cong Dat (Hoàng Công Đạt) is a Vietnamese actor. He is born on November 25, 1993. His first BL project is the 2022 series, The Promise.
Vo Tran Song Duy (Võ Trần Song Du)
Vu is Tan's older stepbrother. His mother remarried Tan's father. However, his mom is currently working in Singapore and doesn't spend much time at home. Vu is an excellent student and gets great academic grades. Tan's classmate, Tuyet, has a crush on him.
Vo Tran Song Duy
Vo Tran Song Duy (Võ Trần Song Du) is a Vietnamese actor. His first BL project is the 2022 series, The Promise.
Bao Cuong (Võ Cường)
Dang Phuong Thao (Đặng Phương Thảo)
Le Dinh Ha (Lê Đình Hà)
Yen Nhi (Yến Nhi)
Pham Minh Tien
Buti Yeu Dau (Buti Yêu Dấu)
Ryan Nhat Hao (Ryan Nhật Hào)
The Promise Review
Drama Review Score: 7.1
The Promise is a decent BL drama with engaging scenes and boisterous characters. Most episodes are enjoyable, taking the viewers on a wild journey with emotional ups and downs. Often, I feel entertained by the steady stream of fights, flirting, and family tensions. The narrative has some clunky moments, particularly the multiple love triangles and contrived conflicts. It also indulges excessively in cliches and coincidences. Despite these hiccups, The Promise remains a fun, thrilling experience.
However, The Promise has an uninspired concept. I'm just not fond of stepbrother romances in BL. These love stories carry icky implications, blurring the lines between family bonds and romantic attraction. Plus, they follow similar narrative structures and have predictable plot points. The Promise doesn't deviate much from the standard formula, delivering another reiteration of the tired old trope. This series lacks originality, especially in an era when the BL genre is experimenting with new, innovative ideas.
Maybe it's my bias speaking, but I never warmed to the stepbrother romance. As Tan and Vu become closer, I am not persuaded by their romantic feelings for each other. The characters transition from animosity to attraction inorganically. Episode 4 features a controversial encounter, adding to the griminess of their relationship. The only time I feel swayed is Tan and Vu's steamy kissing scene near the end. The actors are surprisingly comfortable with their physical affection. Nevertheless, this couple doesn't appeal to me. I see them as brothers and not lovers.
The Promise is elevated significantly by its elegant artistry. It's a well-produced series with cozy, dreamlike visuals. Even if the filming locations aren't diverse, the cinematography captures an understated beauty in each setting. The best shots are the outdoor scenes, especially as the leads ride the bicycle along the beautiful coastal route. Furthermore, The Promise has a majestic soundtrack that complements its graceful aesthetic. The sentimental music works exceptionally well during the story's climaxes, accentuating the sensitive emotions.
In addition, The Promise has vibrant performances from the leads. Tan's actor (Hoang Cong Dat) is an impressive talent with a spunky demeanour. He immerses himself into the character, embodying all the quirks and mannerisms. Likewise, his costar (Vo Tran Song Duy) gives a solid showcase, albeit he must overcome a pretty unflattering hairstyle. The shallow part of me must admit that Dong's actor (Le Dinh Ha) is better looking. Initially, I wondered why he wasn't picked as the lead. Then, I witnessed his stiff acting and realized they cast everyone in the right roles. 😓
The Promise dips in quality midway as some conflicts become increasingly unpleasant to watch. The series rebounds with an entertaining finale, from the passionate kisses to the poignant exchanges. Plus, it saves the best cinematography until the last few scenes. While the ending is satisfying, it can't compensate for my apathy toward the stepbrother couple. This love story has been done before, like repeating old footsteps instead of venturing on a new road. The Promise rehashes familiar plots and stale romances, evoking only a middling review score from me.
The Promise offers engaging scenes and entertaining characters. However, it relies too much on cliches, coincidences, and contrived conflicts. This uninspiring love story lacks originality.
A stepbrother romance is one of my least favourite tropes in BL. Tan and Vu don't persuade me with their inauthentic feelings for each other. Ultimately, I see them as brothers and not lovers.
Tan's actor (Hoang Cong Dat) is spunky and immerses himself in the role, embodying all the character's quirks. He shares a comfortable rapport with his costar (Vo Tran Song Duy).
The Promise has a happy ending after passionate encounters and emotional exchanges between the characters. The finale has beautifully filmed scenes with gorgeous cinematography.
This series is elevated by its elegant artistry. The cozy, dreamlike visuals bring out the understated beauty in each setting. Plus, the majestic soundtrack accentuates the story's poignant emotions.
The Promise is a well-produced BL drama with excellent acting & exquisite artistry. Yet, this stepbrother romance feels familiar and uninspired, not deviating much from the standard formula.
The Promise Episodes
The Promise has a total of 6 episodes. Each episode is around 25 minutes long. The last episode is around 30 minutes long. It is a medium-length BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 3 hours. The Promise started on April 22, 2022 and ended its last episode on May 27, 2022.
While I'm not excited about the stepbrother romance, it's a decent premiere. This episode introduces the characters and their dynamics well. Their confrontation in the kitchen is an exhilarating moment!
Tan's actor is doing a great job with his portrayal. His character's childish personality irritates me, but the lead seems so natural and immersive. He nails the role of the annoying little brother.
This episode is supposed to develop the characters' feelings for each other, but I don't feel persuaded. Even though their relationship has improved, I still see them as brothers.
OMG, did he just grab his stepbrother's dick!? My jaw dropped at that moment! 😮 Vu seems okay with it, but I can't look at this couple the same way again. He just fondled his brother's balls!? WTF!
It must be the worst episode of The Promise. I hate how the story suddenly introduces a random antagonist to create conflict between the couple. The series feels increasingly unpleasant to watch.
The Promise rebounds strongly with an entertaining finale! That kiss is steamy and looks surprisingly comfortable. I also love those visuals in the final scenes, featuring sensational cinematography.
The Promise Information
Oril Nguyen (Oril Nguyễn) is a Vietnamese director. He directed the 2021 BL short movie, Beef, Cupcakes and Him. He also directed the 2022 BL series, The Promise and the 2023 series, My Goofy Deskmate.