IMDb > Purple Butterfly (2003)
Zi hudie
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Purple Butterfly (2003) More at IMDbPro »Zi hudie (original title)


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5.9/10   851 votes »
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Ye Lou (writer)
View company contact information for Purple Butterfly on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 September 2004 (Greece) See more »
Ding Hui is a member of Purple Butterfly, a powerful resistance group in Japanese occupied Shanghai... See more » | Add synopsis »
2 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A Chinese Take On The Old-Fashioned War Time Spy Romance See more (22 total) »


  (in credits order)

Ziyi Zhang ... Cynthia / Ding Hui (as Zhang Ziyi)

Ye Liu ... Situ (Szeto)
Yuanzheng Feng ... Xie Ming
Tôru Nakamura ... Hidehiko Itami

Bingbing Li ... Tang Yiling
Kin Ei ... Yamamoto
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Seiichiro Hashimoto (as Sciichiro Hashimoto)
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Directed by
Ye Lou 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ye Lou  writer

Produced by
Alain de la Mata .... executive producer
Ye Lou .... producer
Vincent Maraval .... executive producer
An Nai .... co-executive producer
Jean-Louis Piel .... executive producer
Wang Wei .... producer
Zheng Zhong .... co-executive producer
Yongde Zhu .... producer
Wu Zhuo .... co-executive producer
Original Music by
Jörg Lemberg 
Cinematography by
Yu Wang 
Film Editing by
Xiaohong Che 
Ye Lou 
Production Design by
Weixin Liu 
Art Direction by
James David Goldmark 
Costume Design by
Weixin Liu 
Production Management
Yongling Wu .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Bing Ren .... assistant director
Lele Xu Le .... second assistant director
Yanjia Zhang .... assistant director
Sound Department
Jiajin Lu .... sound
Other crew
Nairong Ge .... action director
Shaoming Lu .... action director
Min Zhou .... action director

Production CompaniesDistributors
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Zi hudie" - China (original title)
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Rated R for strong violence and a scene of sexuality
France:127 min (Cannes Film Festival) | USA:127 min
Sound Mix:

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Could Not Get Your LoveSee more »


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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful.
A Chinese Take On The Old-Fashioned War Time Spy Romance, 3 December 2004
Author: noralee from Queens, NY

"Purple Butterfly (Zi hudie)" is a Chinese take on "Charlotte Gray."

There are also references to "The Third Man" in how the characters' loyalties and knowledge of each other's motives switch, to "Shanghai Express" for the trains, locales and extensive close-ups of beautiful faces, and to "Casablanca" as if these characters had more dialogue they would probably say something about their personal lives not amounting to a hill of beans amidst war breaking out in the late 1930's.

Elaborate period production design and lush cinematography with very slow camera movement substitute for dialogue.

I know very little of Sino-Japanese relations at this period so I probably missed important portents as the film first follows what I thought were two sets of star-crossed lovers in Manchuria and then Shanghai, whose lives only gradually obviously intersect.

I consequently found some plot points confusing, particularly as I wasn't sure if the characters were spectacularly bad shots at point blank range or if we were seeing flashbacks to the point that I wondered if the projectionist had mixed up reels.

I also wasn't sure if I was supposed to have a positive reaction to Tôru Nakamura's character, as the movie is so virulently anti-Japanese, but I found him a very charismatic actor who had terrific chemistry with the very expressive Ziyi Zhang despite the formalized set pieces of their interactions and even though I wasn't really sure about her personal feelings within her Mata Hari activities.

It was completely gratuitous to close the movie with newsreel footage of Japanese atrocities in various Chinese cities during the war. Yes, we know this war was hell on civilians but hey I'm watching for the romances.

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