Butterfly Swords DVD Review
Written by Ted McCarthy
DVD released by Well Go USA
Directed by Michael Mak and Kevin Chu
Written by John Chong
1993, Region 1, 87 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on July 10th, 2012
Tony Leung as Meng Sing Wan
Michelle Yeoh as Lady Ko
Joey Wong as Butterfly
Donnie Yen as Yip Cheung
I have to fully disclose at the outset of this review that I am not the biggest fan of martial arts movies. Asian cinema has begotten tons of classic films, and some of my all-time favorites (The Killer, I Saw the Devil, Oldboy), but the high-energy goofball chopsocky flicks never really excited me. That said, as any good reviewer should, I’ve done my best to approach this objectively.
Butterfly Swords (which was the title on my DVD copy, but is also titled Butterfly Sword and Butterfly and Sword, depending on where you look it up – I will chalk this up to translation issues) wastes no time before getting silly, with a man’s entire face being sheared clean off by the three-minute mark. I think the muddled “plot” deals with a king in danger of being overthrown by a faction of revolutionaries that want to have sole control over the martial arts world. Or something like that. I honestly was never really sure. Slightly more coherent is a romantic subplot involving Lady Ko (Michelle Yeoh from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Meng Sing Wan (Tony Leung, whose presence only made me yearn to watch Hard Boiled again), Yip Cheun (Donnie Yen), and Butterfly (Joey Wong).
Not that I cared much about that, either. I feel the plots in these types of movies are more formalities since a synopsis that just reads, “People fly, chop, cut, fly, yell, fly and chop some more” could be somewhat confusing. Fans watch these movies for the bonkers action sequences, and I could get behind that if the ones here were anything exciting to watch. But they’re not, and just look cheap and sloppy. Then there is the music that made me want to mercifully wedge a throwing star in each ear. It ranges from cheesy flute tunes to something that sounds like a Backstreet Boys love song instrumental. Oy…
I realize nothing about this film is ever meant to play seriously and is rooted firmly in the realm of fantasy, but I couldn’t help thinking that there were many better ways I could be spending my time. If you’re a fan of the over-the-top acrobatic martial arts action in movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or want to have an idea of some of the source material that Quentin Tarantino paid homage to in Kill Bill, you might want to check out Butterfly Swords. But if you’re like me and enjoy your Asian cinema much darker and more contemporary, there are plenty more (and better) to choose from.
Video and Audio:
The video and audio are pretty crummy. The picture’s grainy and the post-production dubbing pretty much blows.