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Butterfly and Sword More at IMDbPro »San lau sing woo dip gim (original title)

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Must see for "wuxia" fans

Author: Dan Starkey from Belfast, NI
28 January 2004

Emphatically not for kids, "Butterfly and Sword" is a strange amalgam of brutal and unusually bloody kung-fu, and a complex love triangle... make that parallelogram. Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung, and Donnie Yen are at their best, and Joey Wong is, as always, nice to look at. This film is infamous for the abruptly truncated ending in the version that was distributed in Hong Kong and on HK DVDs. For the original, which includes the end of the film that is apparently too shocking for HK audiences, look for the Taiwanese version, called "Comet Butterfly Sword."

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

I don't need no stinking plot

Author: merricatnyc from NYC, NY
20 January 2004

I own this movie on DVD, have watched it several times, and still wouldn't even attempt to give a more in depth plot summary than "There are political factions. They seem to want something. They kill lots of people."

Who knows what this flick is about.

But with the glorious Michelle Yeoh looking especially radiantly beautiful and ripping heads out at the root through the unadulterated power of her fabulous costumes, who cares? Add in the always charming, greatly lamented Tony Leung as her innocuous-secret-identity-guy brother, a plot would almost get in the way.

If you can embrace the sacrifice of story in favor of pure action and character development in favor of raw screen power, you will have a great time watching this movie.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: Mr_Pink05 from United Kingdom
12 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

this film is truly incredible, please people, comment on it. I think it is one of the best martial arts films I have ever seen. However, it is very cult and i could not imagine most mainstream audiences enjoying this film. If you are not a philistine, then you will probably appreciate the very high quality of this film. i would give this film 10/10 because it is not only an excellent kung fu movie, but the cinematography is also jaw droppingly good.

I must warn people that the Michelle Yeoh death scene is cut off in most DVD copies of this film, so it goes from her standing there, to butterfly and sword sitting in the back of a cart weeping... how bizarre.

Kick ass film though!

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Over-The-Top Chop Sockey

Author: zedthedestroyer from The Happy Forest
9 January 2001

Confusing at first. It was hard for me to figure out who was on whose side, and the English translations sometimes read as gibberish, but those are petty qualms. The film is really fun to watch. The wire action is cool and over the top. The fight scenes and gore are very indulgent.

The cast are great, especially Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, and Jimmy Lin. This is a hilarious movie. For those into Martial Arts movies, this is worth a look-see.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

How can you go wrong....

Author: Raoul Escovedo from The heart of it all
17 March 2004

How can you go wrong when Michelle is at the helm?

Movies that have hit the mainstream like So Close and Crouching Tiger owe it all to cult favorites like this one. This is line jumping and supernatural feats during the core creation. Besides, you'll go crazy trying to figure out how so many people can mistake a HOTTIE like Michelle for a man!

I dare ANYONE to say (and describe) how it was not better than Supercop 2!

Not her best work to date, but well worth the rental. WATCH IT!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Complex, multi-dimensional, multi-genre movie

Author: YTSL from Philadelphia, U.S.A.
6 June 1999

An amazing movie which is amazingly under-appreciated and -rated. One of those rare multi-genre (fantasy, historical costume drama, comedy, romantic tragedy) movies for which Hong Kong is justly famous, with -- unusually for films from that movie production center -- a complex, multi-dimensional and -level plot. Beautifully filmed, well acted (Michelle Yeoh is NOT just an action stuntwoman though she is undoubtedly able in that regard), fast paced.

My only caveat is that it helps to read a plot synopsis (preferably Peter's from off the "Yes Madam" web site). Yes, the story-line is THAT complicated!

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Funny, bloody, violent, beautiful and very watchable.

Author: stormruston from victoria bc
15 July 2006

This was a very good film, that bounced around a lot. There is a story or two buried under all the torn out by the root heads and body's that get sliced right in half! Basically this is a betrayal love story triangle and a tale of loyalty built on a political power play and deception platform ..Clear? The story is almost secondary to the barrage of action and violence.

The kungfu is mostly wire and magic based so if you like reality kungfu or sword work and really dislike far-fetched wire and magic, this won;'t be the movie for you. I love both styles so this was great! ( I am a huge gore fan too) The cast is great, some of the best and most beautiful hong-kong actors are in it. Tony Leung and Donnie Yen are near perfect. Joey Wong as butterfly is perfect and Michelle Yeoh is wonderful as the slightly evil plotting and driven sister Ko.

This is a very watchable movie...give it a go, not for under 15 years of age in-spite of the fact the violence is cartoon like in its degree of carnage.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Deceptively deep, disappointingly developed

Author: brainfertilizer from United States
23 January 2005

I found this movie slightly disappointing.

It seems there are several different strains of HK Action Flicks. Jackie Chan does pure fist/leg martial arts with no wires. Jet Li tends to use more wires, but "Once Upon a Time in China" seemed to be more dependent on the action than the wires. This move depends so much on wires and magic powers that you really don't get very much in the way of good swordplay and kung-fu. It seemed pretty cheesy from the beginning, and I left it on only because I had nothing better to do. Then it started getting good. The plot gets pretty complicated, as you see hidden motivations and conflicting desires causing problems for the characters. Unfortunately, the movie never really capitalizes on some of the things the characters discover, and the ending reveals a mystery they really hadn't set up well, forcing the characters to reveal too much in their dialogue, as in, "You see, this was my plan all along! Now I shall kill you!" Not dull, exactly, but it never fulfills the potential of the plot developments to overcome a cheesy approach to martial arts.

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Daft and definitely flawed but still enjoyable wuxia craziness

Author: t-birkhead from United Kingdom
30 July 2009

I remember thinking this was pretty weak when I first saw it and its not a classic by any means but its definitely grown on me. The plot, though not actually that complicated, isn't especially well written or handled and the direction is great either. We have Tony Leung as a young swordsman, who hides his true nature from his beautiful young wife Joey Wong. At the same time Leungs sister, played by Michelle Yeoh is jealous of Wong and seems to harbour an undercurrent of incestuous desire for her brother. Don't blame me, I just call things how I see them and the film definitely hints at it. And finally we have poor Donnie Yen, in love with Michelle Yeohs character. On top of all this we have a standard wuxia warring clans of the martial arts world type set up. The most obvious problem with the film is the fighting, choreographed by Ching Siu Tung and not one of his best moments, not helped by the fairly unskilled direction of Michael Mak. The action loses visual coherency at times, has some bad undercranking (thats speeding up) and wastes the martial arts talents of its leads. On the plus side it is quite bloody at times and also bonkers, for example swords fly, people fly, a man is used as an arrow and trees are used for impalement purposes in one of the best parts. Its loopy and fun when it works and though underused and weak in places the better moments of the fighting really bring the film up. The acting of the leads helps a lot too. Tony Leung is full of charisma, Joey Wong all sweet and innocent, Michelle Yeoh amusingly mean and bitchy yet with a streak of pathos and Donnie Yen likable and a little melancholy. Their characters and interactions work, they have funny moments and all have a good deal of charm, giving the film a sweetly watchable vibe. Even when the script is weak or the fighting is irritating the leads pull it off just about. Altogether its not difficult to see why the film isn't that appreciated, it has blatant problems and the greatest value comes from its nuttiness and a love for the main actors. I immensely enjoy the work of the four of them and I also crave craziness in cinema so this film was generally a good time for me. But it might well not be for you, its definitely one to proceed with caution over. So be forewarned...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Get real, its a kung fu movie, retards!

Author: Pwincess-ChocOw-Viet from United Kingdom
7 June 2015

A lot of this is very pretty. Typical martial arts clan vs martial arts clan plot. Not only stars the elegant and beautiful Michelle Yeoh, but also the very very beautiful and SEXY Joey Wang ("Green Snake"). Please note: the bamboo forest battle in "House of Flying Daggers" bears much more than a passing resemblance to the bamboo forest battle in THIS film. I love all the sword fighting action and the fantasy kung-fu stuff... but my favorite part of this film was the part set in Joey Wang and Tony Leung's idyllic forest hideaway... and him cheating by using his kung-fu to fish. The action was awesome and I loved the special effects. The effects looked better than CGI which is often used today with less realism. Michelle Yeoh is great as usual. Donnie Yen is great and the underrated Tony Leung is great. Highly recommended. However, I didn't hear any sound for some reason. I loved this film and I think you will enjoy it.

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