|THE BUTTERFLY MURDERS (DIP BIN) (director: Hark Tsui; screenwriters: Fan Lin/Chi-ming Lam; cinematographer: Chin-Yu Fan; editors: David Wu/Chih-Hsiung Huang; music: Frankie Chan; cast: Siu-Ming Lau (Fong Hongye), Michelle Yim (Green Shadow), Shu Tong Wong (Tien Feng), Cheung Kwok Chu (Master Shum), Chen Chi Chi (Lady Shum), Kuo-Chu Chang (Shuen), Li Kim (1000 Hands), Eddy Ko (Guo, 'The Magic Fire'), Hsu Hsiao Ling (Ah Chee, mute castle servant girl); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: See-Kin Ng /See-Yuen Ng/Quan Zhang ; Mei Ah Entertainment (Seasonal Film); 1979-Hong Kong-in Cantonese with English subtitles)|
of the director's best."
by Dennis Schwartz
directorial debut of the New Wave maverick Hong Kong
filmmaker Hark Tsui ("Double Team"/"The
Warrior"/"Knock Off") is a good one even though his
convoluted film is quite complex. It's not easy to say
where this unique film fits in as to classification of
genre. It has touches of both Hong Kong and
Hollywood films, elements of Chinese wuxia, a
Hitchcock thriller feel, themes from Edgar Allan
Poe's The Masque of the Red Death and even a James
Bond-like look. The dazzling fantasy thriller,
brilliantly photographed by Chin-Yu
Fan, stands out as a cult classic, one of the
ancient times in China, at a time of warring
factions, the wandering scholar and martial artist
journalist Fong Hongye
(Siu-Ming Lau), with no
fighting skills and the film's narrator, is stuck
trying to unravel a mystery in the 'Martian World"
for an aristocrat family (Chen Chi Chi & Cheung Kwok).
He's helped by master martial arts fighter, the
fearless and beautiful Green Shadow (Michelle
Yim), a friend of the
Tien Clan. At the mysterious labyrinthine Shum
castle they encounter poisonous killer butterflies
(as if such a thing could ever exist) that are
controlled by a ruthless killer clad in black
leather armor named Shuen (Kuo-Chu Chang).
He's revealed as one of three
vicious killers known as the Thunders, all enemies
of the Tien Clan that's headed
by Tien Feng (Shu Tong
Wong, also the choreographer).
All parties converge at the castle and battle for
supremacy in the martial world, in a bloody 'fight
to the finish.'
It bombed at the box office upon its theater release, but was later rediscovered and Hark reached legendary status as a filmmaker. It's visually stunning and features lively well-choreographed martial arts and swordplay fight sequences and an involving tale over killer butterflies and hidden identities.
REVIEWED ON 2/16/2015 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ