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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
Rather muddled history to add flesh to an interesting emotional quandary.
This starts in 1928 with a young Chinese female student and a perhaps slightly older Japanese male student in Manchuria. He is at least being groomed to promote reactionary Japanese interests prior to a war and she is just a tender thing sucked in by the more worldly man. They go to bed together before he announces he is being recalled to his own land.
Four years later the foreign conquest is underway and another love story is shown with less emphasis on sex.
Another 5 years and things are boiling. The Japanese are more or less in control and a well concealed "Purple Butterfly counter insurgent group is hard at work messing up the new regime.
The first girl is quite involved in the native movement when she sees her prewar lover returned for direct management action especially getting rid of the resistance. She now has quite mixed feelings remembering her schoolgirl love and wanting to further the protection of her country. Like a good girl she reports her finding of the Japanese boy and is taken aback when instructed to reaffirm a relationship with him to help the local cause. As this is very much a life-and death business, her quandary is interesting to watch. There is not right-or-wrong answers or even good-or-bad. Further the young Japanese man is confused whether she is a lover to be counted on or a detested spy to be destroyed. Watching this story unfold keeps the movie alive despite the desolation of the times and the destruction of war all acted out in constant downpour and dull and smoky lighting.
As much as I would also like to have seen more light and life, I am not sure the important love-hate story could have been maintained therein.
I had debated whether to pick this up at Blockbuster and am not sure I made the right choice. My heart aches for these people.
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