• Butterfly Swords

    Released by: Well Go USA

    Released on: July 6, 2012.

    Director: Michael Mak

    Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Tony Leung

    Year: 1993

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    The Movie:

    Butterfly Swords is a retitling of the film originally known as Butterfly And Sword. Why it was given this retitling is anyone’s guess, but it has and that’s that. So what’s it all about? Well, that’s a good question.

    Set in the past, the story follows some events that revolve around The Happy Forest where a group of assassins live. These assassins are hired by a mysterious customer to steal a letter out of the hands of Grand Eunuch Tsao. Why? Because it contains some sensitive information, the kind that, should it get out, will most certainly cause a rebellion and set the land into chaos, making it all the easier for the mysterious customer to swoop in and take over.

    Thankfully, all hope is not lost – a band of heroes made up of Lady Ko (Michelle Yeoh), Sing (Tony Leung) and Yip Cheung (Donnie Yen) take it upon themselves to join together and stop the Happy Forest assassins for ruining everyone’s day. Sing, on the other hand, has the hots for Butterfly (Joey Wang), who thinks he is a fisherman and not a deadly warrior – but Ko ha the hots for Sing, so things are going to get complicated.

    This movie is a mess, at least as far as the story goes. It’s all over the place – there are loads of threads that don’t wind up going anywhere and characters are introduced and then disappear for reasons known only to the writers. But this isn’t the type of movie you watch for deep, thought provoking drama or a multilayered mystery – this is the type of movie you watch for immense amounts of ass kicking. On that level, the film delivers, and a lot of the credit for that has to go to the lovely and talented Michelle Yeoh, who looks amazing here and proves here as she has in countless other films that she’s now slouch in the martial arts department either. Tony Leung is charming and cool while Donnie Yen is slick and fast, showing off some great fight skills here as well. All involved do a fine job, but this is really Michelle Yeoh’s show all the way through.

    Story be damned, the action scenes are impressive here. There’s a great sense of fluidity that works in the movies favor and they come at you quickly throughout the film. The quality of the combat is great and there’s loads of style and cool costumes worked into the visual side of things as well. If Butterfly And Sword doesn’t rank up there with the best films of its ilk, it’s still worth seeing so long as you go into it in the right frame of mind. There’s fun to be had here, even if it doesn’t always make a lot of sense.


    Despite what it says on the packaging, the widescreen transfer is non-anamorphic, a pretty big strike against this disc and definitely a disappointment. Colors look weak though black levels aren’t bad and the movie looks framed properly but the lack of 16x9 enhancement in this day and age will understandably irk some fans and probably prevent a few more from buying it. The image also could and should have looked cleaner than it does here.

    The Chinese language audio, available in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with optional English subtitles, fares better but isn’t going to floor you. Sometimes the directional effects sound a bit off. For the most part though, the audio is alright. Not amazing, but alright – you can follow along without any issues and the levels are balanced properly.

    Aside from a menu and chapter selection, there are no extra features on the disc.

    The Final Word:

    Butterfly And Sword is a fun movie. It’s not a great movie, the story is all over the place and is frequently too scattered for its own good, but it offers up some great action scenes, a good amount of high quality ass kicking and a cool cast. The DVD from Well Go USA is a disappointment, however. Not only is the transfer poor but there are no extras at all.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Wally West's Avatar
      Wally West -
      I saw this at the store the other day. It listed Mandarin as the original language available. I may be wrong but isn't it suppose to be Cantonese?