Butterfly and Sword (Xin liu xing hu die jian, 1993)
Taiwan (DVD is Hong Kong version; I hear it does not have the original ending)
It has both my favorite HK femmes, Michelle Yeoh and Joey Wang, and that was enough for me to buy the DVD. The film did not disappoint either, it was the usual great HK fare: ridiculously fast, entertaining, funny, and occasionally witty. If you are no big fan of wire flying, you should probably avoid this because gravity is the last thing on these peoples' minds. On the other hand, for the connoisseur of this sort of excellent cheese, B&S is among the best.
Michelle Yeoh is in great shape and as beautiful as ever. She has quite a few fighting and several quasi-romantic (i.e. nothing happens) scenes as the master of "Happy Forest" martial arts school. She is in love with one of her "brothers" (Tong Leung), who, unfortunately for her, is crazily in love with Butterfly (Joey Wang). The one-sided rivalry sometimes manifests itself in amusing banter between the two women. It's good that Ton Leung had his mind set on Butterfly. I would have died trying to choose between these two.
The movie is thin on plot but fat on action. There are several pretty good scenes that involve lots of flying, some sanitized blood-letting, and even bursting through other peoples' bodies. Two tricks stand out in particular: the Bow and Arrow, which involves Michelle making a "bow" with her arms and legs, and shooting Tong as an arrow with her veil. You have to see it to believe it. The other episode occurred in the forest where Michelle splits and slides down the trunks of two trees. Simply amazing.
Overall, an entertaining movie, with two of the most beautiful women ever, lots of cheesy martial arts, special effects galore, and enough wide-angle camera shots to make you think you've had too much happy liquid. Definitely worth seeing (and in my case, having).
March 19, 2001. BLS