Butterfly And Sword (1993)

Some of the best early 90's wire-fu choreography
Reviewed by Simon on 2000-10-16

The plot is one of those tales of competition in the martial arts world, bizarre love triangles, decadent eunuchs and playboy princes that is typical of the Hong Kong wu xia film, which is what BUTTERFLY AND SWORD is. It's indecently convoluted, and probably wouldn't make a lot of sense even with a perfect subtitle translation - but does it matter?

The early 90's produced a host of weird, wild and wonderful wu xia films in the wake of Swordsman II, and it was truly a golden age of imagination and cinematic bravado - a period of intense competition amongst Hong Kong's filmmakers to out-do each other in terms of invention. Scripts were decidedly low on the priority list of most productions - it was all about spectacle.

This 1993 film was choreographed by Ching Siu-Tung, the master of choreography when it came to flying swordsmen and people or large chunks of scenery exploding. BUTTERFLY AND SWORD contains some of his most imaginative work... what more do you need to know? The human bow and arrow move is an all-time classic.

Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai give good performances, whilst Elvis Tsui is his usuall OTT and entertaining self. Donnie Yen hardly gets used, but he is typically impressive when he is.

BUTTERFLY AND SWORD is manic, fun and filled with jaw-dropping action scenes. It has a good soundtrack, a plot of some description and the comedy parts aren't too stupid. Not quite a classic, but contains enough great moments that it seems mean to complain about its flaws.