Don't take the low average here as a sign of mediocrity. Butterfly and Sword is flawed, but the last thing it is is run-of-the-mill. Logic? Coherency? Resolution? Subtlety? What are those? Loose ends dangle majestically in the wind. Characters are introduced, forgotten about for over an hour, and jump back into things at the most convenient time before flying off like superheroes. The villain gives a classic "ha-ha! Now I will explain my genius plan!" speech before biting it. Yes, in many ways this is about as bad as wuxia plots ever got, resembling a soap opera that manages to squeeze some dismemberments, impalements, involuntary face-removals and exploding heads into every 5 or 10 minutes, but that's exactly what I like about it: it epitomizes 90s Hong Kong stupidity and over-the-top lyricism in all the best ways. This is exactly the kind of movie where you don't mind the battles turning into gimmicky wire pageantry where characters slice each other's swords in two and trampoline off branches, because nothing else about it is grounded.
A lot of fun, as long as you accept it for what it is: gory, melodramatic wire-fu pulp. For all its narrative and technical flaws, it's stylistically enchanting, full of color and opulence, and it does a commendable job turning the plot from a novel all about convoluted cloak-and-dagger intrigue into a brisk 80 minute fantasy that makes you raise your arms in disbelief more than it makes you scratch your head. I'll take it over Crouching Tiger or Iron Monkey, because at least this seems to revel in its own weirdness.
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