Butterfly and Sword


"The entire film is one monumental fuck-up from start to finish."

- Numskull

Butterfly and Sword (1993)

AKA: Butterfly Sword; Comet, Butterfly &Sword

Director: Kevin Chu

Producer: Mark Wu

Writer: Chong Ying

Cast: Tong Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Joey Wang, Donnie Yen, Jimmy Lin, Xu Jin Jiang

Running Time: 86 min.

Plot: Yan are featured in this swordfighting tale starring Joey Wang as "Butterfly." Along with Tony Leung the foursome all parry and thrust their way through a deliriously-paced yarn. (Yup, that's what it says. The actual movie isn't much more intelligible.)


NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: Maybe this is just a peculiarity of watching a movie at 1 A.M., but it seems to me that Butterfly & Sword was written, produced, and directed by mutant vegetable-people with one brain cell evenly distributed amongst the lot of them. It's a fantasy/swordplay flick with absolutely laughable action sequences, a plot that seems to have been pulled from the ass of a hallucinating crackhead, piss-poor subtitles, and some of the most flat-out shitty cinematic storytelling you're ever likely to see. I can hardly believe that Kevin Chu, director of the highly amusing Flying Dagger, was at the helm of this abortion. The entire film is one monumental fuck-up from start to finish.

Joey Wang, substituting cutesy-poo perkiness for acting, is Butterfly, but the movie doesn't really focus on her. Instead, it revolves around her husband Sword and his mysterious past with Michelle Yeoh's character. Michelle herself serves double duty as A) a court assassin and B) the only reason I watched this odious dog's breakfast disguised as a movie in the first place. She skewers people on bamboo stalks (a la Vlad the Impaler) and decapitates guys without a moment's hesitation...quite a change from the ass-kicking sweetie-pie she portrays in Yes Madam, Wing Chun, etc. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the way she pulls it off, but the movie as a whole sucks so hard that you probably wouldn't even notice if she gave the performance of a lifetime.

There's this old dying man who wants to be king of the martial arts hill, so he sends Sword and Michelle (can't remember her character's name and don't really care anyway) to kill some guy who is gathering warriors together, recruiting the best ones, and disposing of the others. This recruiting guy has an incompetent, vaguely faggoty son who tries unsuccessfully to lend some comic relief to the carnage. Meanwhile, poor Butterfly has to sit at home with a long list of instructions left by her hubby (or "hobby," according to the subtitles).

There's no rhyme or reason to the, uh, "fight" scenes in terms of story, choreography, or editing...just sloppy, wired-up absurdity. People explode like bags of dirt, bounce pineapple-sized iron balls off of their foreheads without the slightest bit of physical discomfort, and get their heads yanked off their shoulders by lengths of cloth. How sad that this sort of thing gets passed off as "martial arts."

Like I said earlier, I only watched this movie because Michelle Yeoh is in it. As of this writing I haven't seen all of her films yet, but I'll be very surprised if Butterfly & Sword isn't the worst of the bunch. I'd like to think there was a Jackie Chan/Jimmy Wang Yu/Island of Fire type of situation, where she only made her appearance to fulfill an obligation of some kind, or even just to be nice (she is reportedly one of the most pleasant and affable celebrities out there). Whatever her reasons were, though, this shitfest was a waste of both her time and mine. Don't let it waste YOUR time as well.