Life is fleeting as the butterfly, beautiful yet transient.
As legends has it, a pair of butterfly lovers reappears once
more after having gone through three lifetimes of heartbrokenness. Liang
is highly skilled in martial arts and resides in the mountains. Zhu disguises as a man to learn martial arts, is the daughter of a wealthy man. Their encounter leads to love blossoming. Unfortunately, Zhu is betrothed to General Ma. Their undying love for each other could not help them escape the hands of fate.
short, "Butterfly Lovers" is made for the MTV generation.
To be specific, it’s nothing close to a weepie romance
drama nor a martial arts movie but a 103 minutes music video
with pretty boy Wu Chun (from boyband Fahrenheit) and Charlene
Choi (the other unscathed half from pop group Twins) as the
frame of this movie is nicely projected onscreen, you can
clearly see the faultless left and right profile of the handsome
Wu Jun whenever he’s in front of the camera. The lush
picturesque sceneries where this movie is shot are simply
breath-taking. Coming out from the hands of director/writer
Jingle Ma who also doubles as cinematographer here, this is
not a surprise. But like a music video, while the visual is
commendable, the story is pathetically empty and the lacklustre
performance of the young stars doesn’t aid much as well.
Ma wrote and fusion his story with elements from two famous
tragic love stories of all time, William Shakespeare’s
Romeo & Juliet and the Chinese folklore, "Liang Zu"
aka "Butterfly Lovers". At the same time he incorporated
the theme of martial arts into the story hoping to differ
from the original version whereby the protagonist is normally
a weak scholar. Wu plays Liang Chushan, a highly-skilled disciple
who helms from a renowned martial-arts clan while Charlene
is Zhu Yanzhi, a rich girl who met and besotted with Liang
while disguising herself as a man. I’m not going to
delve into the outcome of this pair of lovers as I’m
sure you already knew. But the process in engaging the audience
with their undying love for each other is apparently missing
stars liked Ti Lung, Xiong Xinxin and Taiwanese singer/host
Harlem Yu ended up as walking props and fillers for the movie
while Charlene Choi tries hard to play against her stiff uncomfortable
partner, Wu Chun. Even the ever reliable action choreographer
Tony Ching (The Swordsman, Hero) who receives top billing
on the DVD cover seems to have dozes off on the set. The action
sets are surprisingly horribly and hastily choreograph. Notably,
Ma and Ching resort to pull a 'John Woo' with those slow-mo
camera moves between Wu Jun and Hu Ge in the finale fight
that you can’t help but feel that the producers might
have forgotten to insure Wu’s face beforehand.
mentioned earlier, Jingle Ma’s version of "Butterfly
Lovers" is strictly made for MTV fans or fans of Wu Chun
and Charlene Choi. It’s sad to see the art of filmmaking
degenerates in the hands of Ma. If you prefer a more heartfelt
version of "Butterfly Lovers", check out the much
superior 1994 Tsui Hark’s "Leung Chuk" which
starred Nicky Wu and Charlie Young.
a 7 minutes Making Of feature that sadly
has little to show except the two bubbly leads and crew clowning
around on the set.
Cast Interviews is surprisingly longer and
runs at 26 minutes. We have the director Jingle Ma, Wu Chun,
Charlene Choi and Hu Ge asking one another rhetorical questions.
Purely a segment to please their fans.
special features is round up with the Trailer
and a Photo Gallery consisting of stills
from the movie and Butterfly Lovers Singapore Promo Tour.
in 4:3 letterbox format, the visual transfer is clean and
images are presented nicely. Little to complain here. Boasting
only a Dolby Digital 2.0 and Mandarin track, there's nothing
that requires a powerful system but a dual soundtrack should
be present for a better comparison.
Review by Linus Tee