24 user 26 critic

Purple Butterfly (2003)

Zi hu die (original title)
Cynthia is a young Chinese woman in love with Itami, a Japanese man about to be sent home for military service.


Ye Lou


Ye Lou
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Ziyi Zhang ... Cynthia / Ding Hui (as Zhang Ziyi)
Ye Liu ... Situ (Szeto)
Yuanzheng Feng Yuanzheng Feng ... Xie Ming
Tôru Nakamura ... Hidehiko Itami
Bingbing Li ... Tang Yiling
Kin Ei Kin Ei ... Yamamoto
Leni Lan Crazybarby Leni Lan Crazybarby ... A zi (as Lan Yan)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Seiichiro Hashimoto Seiichiro Hashimoto ... (as Sciichiro Hashimoto)
Felicia Pullam Felicia Pullam ... Russian Prostitute (as Fellicia Pullam)
Cheryl Xie ... (as Li Xie)
Anlian Yao


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Cynthia: Let's see who's quicker, who's luckier.
See more »


Could Not Get Your Love
Written by Yao Min (composition), Yan Kuan & Su Wong (lyrics)
Performed by Yao Li
Courtesy of EMI Music Publishing Hong Kong
See more »

User Reviews

Rather muddled history to add flesh to an interesting emotional quandary.
11 March 2009 | by bigrichrySee all my reviews

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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China | France


Mandarin | Japanese | Vietnamese

Release Date:

17 September 2004 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

紫蝴蝶 See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,970, 28 November 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


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