The Butterfly Murders

The Butterfly Murders

Dir: Tsui Hark
Scr: Lam Chi-ming, Lam Fan
Prod Co: Seasonal
Cast: Lau Siu-ming, Chang Kuo-chu, Wong Shu-tong, Michelle Yim, Eddy Ko Hung
1979 | Colour | DCP | Cantonese | 90min


This film was acquired locally in 2012.

‘When you understand the film development process, you will discover that spending just tens of dollars to watch a film in the cinema is a super deal.' Mr Ko Tin-chow, Senior Operations Manager at Mandarin Laboratory (International) Limited once said. Since the beginning, most motion pictures had been shot on film stock. Only recently has film been replaced by digital means. Established in 1969, Mandarin Laboratory began to feel the change in the industry in 2012, and decided to move to smaller premises, starting by organising their storage facility and contacting film owners to collect the product they had stored there previously. Thanks to the hard work of Mr Ko and his staff, especially in their efforts in persuasion, many of the film owners agreed to donate their prints to the Archive.

Tsui Hark started his film career with a genre flick that challenges the genre and, with it, arguably ushered in the New Wave that transformed the industry of which that genre was a backbone. The Butterfly Murders is an ambitious freshman project that tries to expand the horizons of the wuxia film by debunking its conventions, revealing human dimensions behind superhuman martial arts moves, all the while presenting choreographed actions with kinetic editing to satisfy genre expectations. The film is decorated with cinematic references, from Hitchcock thrillers to Spaghetti Westerns to Japanese crime films, tied together by a dark humour that would become the director's signature and a comic book-like mise-en-scene of tight close-ups, skewed camera angles and fitful camera movements. And perhaps the ultimate self-conscious, double-edged joke is the employ of a scholar as narrator—a reminder that the men of action in wuxia fiction were created by docile men of words.

Date Time Venue
31/10/2021 (Sun) # 12:00pm Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive

# Post-screening talk with Ko Tin-chow

The contents of the programme do not represent the views of the presenter. The presenter reserves the right to change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.