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

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Ye Lou (writer)
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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 note, because so few people seem to have seen this movie 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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The Moon Of A Garden BridgeSee more »


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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
A note, because so few people seem to have seen this movie, 21 January 2005
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California

Saw Purple Butterfly in NYC the beginning of December. I missed Xiao cheng zhi chun or Springtime in a Small Town by director Tian Zhuangzhuang shown there in early May. Quite likely Springtime is the better movie of the two by a wide margin. It's based on an earlier Chinese film according to J. Hoberman of the Village Voice: "Fei Mu's 1948 Springtime is widely regarded as a masterpiece-some consider it the greatest of all Chinese films. Never having seen it, I can only imagine how Tian may have annotated the original in his remake. The second Springtime is predicated on a sense of '50s film-making (not unlike the heightened Sirkness of Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven) that could hardly have existed in the original. Even as homage, Tian's movie seems to be among the finest expressions of the Chinese new wave." Jonathan Rosenbaum describes the Fei Mu Springtime as "widely considered the nation's greatest film by Mandarin speakers but tragically neglected by almost everyone else" and ends his capsule review of the new Springtime, "This erotically charged drama may not be quite as great as the original, but it's an amazing and beautiful work just the same." I no doubt need to add this to my 2004 "Wish I'd Seen" list. (Thanks to my colleagues on another film world website for bringing it to my attention in the House of Flying Daggers thread there).

Well, it's clear to me that Purple Butterfly isn't of this magnitude but it's notably different from the usual Chinese film fare in focusing on political conflicts in the 1930's -- which are handled in a somewhat conspiratorial and noirish way, with romance woven in. There are lots of long stares, Thirties dance songs, non-filter cigarettes pensively lighted with box matches, and events in Shanghai in the period of Japanese occupation leading up to the Sino-Japanese war involving political activist plots and counter-plots that are filmed to look rather like blurry, chaotic versions of Chicago gangster shootouts. There is a tragic star-crossed love story, and the climactic scene is rather neat. But the director, Lou Ye, isn't satisfied but has to add a disenchanted brutal sex/self doubt coda.

The director's previous film was Suzhou River, and this is just as pretty to look at -- pretty enough so you almost don't care that at first you don't know what's happening, except that couples are inarticulately in love and it's always raining. The Village Voice thumbnail review aptly commented, "part action flick, part love story, and part posh historical pageant...a fabulously morose piece of work." Purple Butterfly calls a bit too much attention to itself to fully evoke its Thirties setting, but it manages to seem original most of the way despite occasional debts to Wong Kar Wai notable in the long pauses, languid love scenes, and incessant rain. Not a great success, but watchable as a mood piece.

Metacritic score of Purple Butterfly: 66.

Metacritic score of Springtime in a Small Town: 86.

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