HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Coming Home
De Sade
Patti Cake$
Hellbound
Final Destination 2
Romance
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Cockleshell Heroes, The
Mule, The
Sunday in the Country
Nutcracker Fantasy
Spellcaster
Hipsters
Executive Action
Captain Marvel
Zombie Girl
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rhinoceros
Monkey King 3, The
Adventurers, The
Stripped to Kill
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
Aladdin's Magic Lamp
Christopher Robin
Hole in the Ground, The
Daniel
Blue Christmas
Death Trip
She's Missing
Return of the Soldier
Shaft
Summer Lovers
Robert the Bruce
Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, The
Kindergarten Teacher, The
Carne
Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows
Girls Town
Burning
Hitchhikers, The
   
 
Newest Articles
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
   
 
  Butterfly and Sword Float like a butterfly, sting like a beeBuy this film here.
Year: 1993
Director: Michael Mak
Stars: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Michelle Yeoh, Joey Wong, Donnie Yen, Jimmy Lin Zhi-Ying, Tok Chung-Wa, Elvis Tsui, Yip Chuen-Chan, Lee Ka-Ting, Chang Kuo-To, Lee Wai
Genre: Martial Arts, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Happy-go-lucky sword hero Meng Sing-Wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) renounced the Martial World to live in marital bliss with his adoring wife, Butterfly (achingly lovely Joey Wong) in their idyllic forest home, but is drawn back into the fold by his childhood friends, kung fu diva Sister Ko (Michelle Yeoh) and sulky swordsman Yip Cheung (Donnie Yen). Ko still harbours feelings for Sing-Wan though he remains devoted to his wife. Meanwhile Yip Cheung secretly loves Sister Ko and confides in the sisterly Butterfly. As heroes of the Happy Forest clan the gang serve ailing imperial Eunuch Tsao (Chang Kuo-Chu) who enlists Sing-Wan to help foil Master Suen (Elvis Tsui), a respected nobleman suspected of plotting a coup against the playful young Prince Cha (Cantopop star Jimmy Lin Zhi-Ying). After faking his death, Sing-Wan goes undercover as Suen’s trusted right hand man but ends up in an arranged marriage to Miu Siu Siu (Yip Chuen-Chan), another long-lost childhood friend who reveals Sister Ko has a far more elaborate scheme in mind.

Butterfly and Sword is feted among many fans of Hong Kong films for featuring the most insanely inventive action choreography of any wu xia movie from the Nineties. Which is saying something when one considers how many outstanding genre pictures were produced back then. Given director Michael Mak was known for his romantic dramas and the bawdy classic Sex & Zen (1991) it is likely action choreographer Ching Siu Tung, director of A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), The Heroic Trio (1983) and The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011) among many classics, was the man behind its delirious imagery. His action sequences are truly incredible: swordsmen ricochet off walls and trees, flick leaves as lethal weapons, bounce like human yo-yos, split bodies apart by shooting sticks of bamboo, or fly in mid-air wielding swords like helicopter blades. By far the most memorable martial arts move featured here is the so-called Flying Arrow, wherein Michelle Yeoh uses her sash to propel the sword-wielding Tony Leung as a human projectile right through his enemies!

However, the characterisations etched by the all-star cast are equally outstanding which is likely where Mak’s skill came into play. The tangled relationships are beautifully drawn, not just through the performances but also through action. This ability to make abstract emotions physical on screen is an aspect of wu xia cinema routinely overlooked or misunderstood by many western critics. Like Ang Lee’s more celebrated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) this uses the grammar of martial arts movies to examine relationships and visualize those emotions its protagonists do their utmost to suppress. The opening voiceover ably surmizes the film’s chief theme as our narrator observes mastery of martial arts requires the suppression of emotions but love is the hardest to suppress. Star-crossed lovers caught in a web of deceit woven by implacable, hypocritical elders is a reoccurring motif throughout wu xia fiction, not least in Killer Clans (1976) the original Shaw Brothers adaptation of the Gu Long novel on which this is based.

Mak takes an altogether more humane approach to the source material. He weaves an incredibly complex, fast-paced plot leavened by wry philosophical and romantic asides and an abundance of good humour. The frenetic cinematography is superb though sadly poorly served by most DVD transfers whilst the editing enhances the insane fluidity of Ching Siu Tung’s spectacular choreography. Butterfly and Sword actually exists in two versions: a seventy-seven minute international version and the eighty-two minute original Hong Kong cut. In either version the film packs genuinely surprising, exciting twists and turns right up to the outrageous finale which is simply too delicious to be spoiled here. A greatest hits montage of all the fight scenes plays over the end credits accompanied by a lovely theme song performed by Michelle Yeoh herself.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2169 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: