Butterfly and Sword (1993)Directed by: Michael Mak, Chi Li Tang
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Michelle Yeoh
Tagline: "This movie includes a human bow and arrow!"
Sister Ko (Michelle Yeoh) and Brother Sung (Tony Leung) are part of the 'Happy Forrest' martial arts clan and have been set a mission by a dying Eunuch to recover a letter from the "Elite's Villa" which details plans to rebel against the Government.
When we first meet Sing, he demonstrates the technique of the 'human bow and arrow' in order to capture a crony from the rival clan. That night, we meet Ko who is the leader of the clan and who then proceeds to decapitate the man Sing caught with a silk scarf.
As it turns out, Sing is happily married to Butterfly. What he has told her is that he is a merchant as her father was involved in the martial arts world and she didn't like that he killed so many people.
The next attack on the Elite's Villa by Happy Forrest does not go well; most of the clan who were involved in the attack get killed, and the one man that does get away is severely injured by the 'Flying Claw'.
For some reason there is a flashback sequence showing Sung and Ko in their childhood as well as the warrior who was injured, who, it turns out, has a secret love for Ko.
Seeing what they are up against, Ko comes up with a plan that requires Sung to go undercover. Meanwhile Elite's Villa is planning to recruit martial arts masters to go up against Happy Forrest, will they succeed or not?
This is a very great film in the tradition of films such as The Storm Riders (1998) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), except that it predates all of them by at least a few years.
Although the two main characters work well together, Sister Ko seems to get a lot more screen time and really stands out. It is a shame Michelle Yeoh isn't doing action movies any more, as Kill Bill would have been great if she was in the cast.
I thought the fantasy setting was realised very well. Although there were some historical leanings to it, there are many things in the story that are complete fantasy.
There are some funny things that occur too, like the 'human bow and arrow' as I have mentioned and the main baddie trying to head a stone sphere (Ouch!)
I would recommend this movie if you are a fan of the Wruxia genre and want to see a film from the early 90's period of Hong Kong movies.