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Ding Hui is a member of Purple Butterfly, a powerful resistance group in Japanese occupied Shanghai. An unexpected encounter reunites her with Itami, an ex-lover... and officer with a secret police unit tasked with dismantling Purple Butterfly. Written by
"Purple Butterfly" puts us in media res in a moment in history--the years leading up to the Second Sino-Japanese War--that may be unfamiliar to some viewers. It links the lives of several people tragically brought together with a time-scrambling plot, a device familiar from "Amores Perros." This combination may account for some of the impatience and confusion some viewers have expressed; but I found the film brilliant. I particularly liked the courageously (for Westerners)slow pace of many scenes--the scene at the railway station, where the protagonist (played by Zhang Ziyi) gradually moves from background to foreground, is especially good. Those looking for Hong Kong-style action will be disappointed. Those open to a humane, thoughtful twist on the intrigue genre will probably like it. Fans of Ms. Zhang from her martial arts films will have the opportunity to see her in a less stylized role.
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