Friday, April 8, 2016

The Black Butterfly (1968)

I had been watching a couple of Shaw Brothers movies made in 1967-1968 and when I watched this one, in the middle of it suddenly I saw how different this was from others. The others often showed close-ups and stayed on the actor's face for a while while he/she did his/her act. It disturbs me a lot when in a time of critical danger and a hero has to fight to death, and he will ask his friend or sibling or child to leave - to be able to avenge him in the future; and the friend/sibling/child doesn't go in that moment and spends several seconds to weep and cry 'I won't leave you' 'I'm not afraid to die'. This kind of drama is very annoying. I sort of hope that the characters live around a swordsman have a military discipline - that they should go as soon as they are told to.

The Black Butterfly was a masked character who robbed from the rich to help the poor. No one knew that the Black Butterfly was actually a young woman named Bao Zhu, the daughter of Gold Sword Kwan - a retired swordsman who now opened the Ten Mile Inn. Kwan had students and his first student, Hsi Lang, worked for Lord Fang in the Court of Censors. Kwan had refused to teach his own daughter martial arts, so she secretly learned from the Drunken Beggar.

Chiao Chiao as Bao Zhu
Five Devils Rock's third master took Lord Fang's stamp and asked Lord Fang to give 10,000 silver taels to make up the loss for the robbery done by the Black Butterfly in the beginning of the movie. With the help of the Drunken Beggar and Bao Zhu, Gold Sword Kwan and his students wiped out the Five Devils Rock.

The director, Lo Wei, used long shots and I enjoyed activities in the background. Like when Bao Zhu was arguing with Hsi Lang in Ten Mile Inn, a student of Kwan appeared in background and called his friend to enjoy the argument. Another example is when Hsi Lang agreed to have a duel with the man from Five Devils Rock, a student of Kwan happily fetched a sword for Hsi Lang and was laughing, as if he knew that he would enjoy an interesting spectacle soon. Again another example: when Gold Sword Kwan was about to go to Five Devils Rock to get the stamp back, Bao Zhu only said a sentence, hoping her father wouldn't go - but she knew that he had to go, so soon after she said what she had to say, she ran to her room crying - followed by her father's students who were trying to comfort her. This was done fast and we could see Gold Sword Kwan stood sadly on the inn's bridge, looking at his daughter's room (from a distance) while his students still comforting her.

No comments: