Black Butterfly
Hong Kong 1968
Directed by Lo Wei.

What if, after a disaster struck, you are asked by the Red Cross and other organizations for a generous donation? What if you refuse to donate for your own personal reasons regardless of your wealth? The answer here is simple -- a noble martial thief -- the Black Butterfly, will come and rob you blind and help the villagers with your cash whether you want it or not. This is supposed to be heroic? BLACK BUTTERFLY is a simple variant on the Robin Hood story, but more to the point it is a Mandarin remake of the Cantonese hit Black Rose. But as a Shaw Brothers film, the story is lifted out of the present and placed in the martial world, and the cheap sets and black and white photography of the original are replaced by color and lavish, monumental sets as only Shaws could build. Yueh Hua plays Xi Lang, the policeman in charge of the case, and Chiao Chiao plays the innocent serving girl Bao Zhu by day, and Black Butterfly by night. Neither are particularly memorable, and the second half of the film drifts considerably from its inspiration to become a pretty routine good school v. bad school free-for-all. Lots of Shaw regulars in the cast, with standout performances by Tin Fung as the swordmaster turned teahouse owner of the good school, and Yeung Chi-Hing as a drunken master.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on October 15, 2005.

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