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Purple Butterfly (Zi hudie) (2004)



Average Rating: 5.5/10
Reviews Counted: 20
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 11

Ye Lou's Purple Butterfly is atmospheric and moody, but the story is frustratingly muddled.


Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 4

Ye Lou's Purple Butterfly is atmospheric and moody, but the story is frustratingly muddled.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 1,347

My Rating

Movie Info

Directed by Lou Ye, Zi Hudie revolves around the underground faction of anti-Nipponese fighters in 1930s Shanghai, just prior to the onset of the Sino-Japanese war. It's only the beginning when Cynthia (Zhang Ziyi), a young Chinese woman, learns the news of her lover Itami's (Toru Nakamura) rapidly approaching return to the military. In a second and even more devastating blow, Cynthia's brother, a contributor to an anti-Japanese newspaper, is killed by a Japanese activist. Three years later,


Art House & International, Drama

Ye Lou

Feb 15, 2005

Palm Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (11) | DVD (6)

At the center of it all is, of course, Zhang. Charismatic and intense, she excels in her most grown-up role to date.

February 25, 2005 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are two movies battling for supremacy in Butterfly, and both lose. As does the audience.

January 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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As atmospheric and moody as a film noir, the stylish, sometimes perplexing Purple Butterfly is a remarkable period piece, evoking the bustling, dense and increasingly dangerous Shanghai of the '30s.

January 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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Hectic, lyrical, swooningly romantic and almost unwatchably brutal.

January 12, 2005 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The characters are less compelling than this particular slice of history, which has rarely been dramatized in movies.

January 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Lou synthesizes a wide range of styles and influences -- from Casablanca to Wong Kar-wai -- resulting in a movie that, for all its haunting strangeness, seems curiously familiar.

November 29, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The plot may be a little hard to follow, but the film-making is skillful and any effort on the viewer's part is well worth it

May 28, 2005 Full Review
New Times

Just like nuclear energy, long cinematic pauses can be used properly for the benefit of all, while in the wrong hands they can cause mass misery.

February 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

An at times pretty but nonetheless forgettable film.

January 20, 2005 Full Review Source: Now Playing Magazine

A gorgeous period melodrama, packed with romantic tragedy and violent intrigue, it is both gritty and dreamy, political and personal.

January 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

... rich with emotional turmoil and searing beauty, but it could have used a little more time in the editing room to make sense of it all.

January 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The art of it is entirely in the atmospherics; the rest is melodrama. Its 127 minute exercise in puzzle solving is draining.

January 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

Give in to the mood piece and bathe in its glamorous nostalgic glow. It's a beauty.

December 3, 2004 Full Review Source: E! Online
E! Online

History is scant or purposefully blurred in Lou Ye's abstruse Purple Butterfly, a war drama with Wong-like delusions of love

November 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

An extravagant, intriguing but ultimately very frustrating period piece.

August 28, 2004 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

O filme é tecnicamente irrepreensível, mas o ritmo lento da narrativa e a auto-indulgência do diretor Lou Ye simplesmente destroem a paciência do espectador.

November 1, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Audience Reviews for Purple Butterfly (Zi hudie)

Purple Butterfly is quite an interesting watch. It isn't interesting in the way where the story just knocks your socks off or where the film just spans many genres. This is a straight up Chinese gangster drama with a different way of telling the story.This film is almost like a silent picture. The dialogue is down to a minimum and I mean bare minimum. This will turn away a lot of people, but the silent treatment benefits this film to some degree. You see, this would have turned out like any old Chinese crime drama if the dialogue was written in the usual way. Instead, you have to rely on the camerawork to tell the story.Of course, having the camerawork carry the film does have its downsides. The story, in the second half, is a little complex, but not impossible to figure out. The first 30 minutes is real easy to follow, since there isn't much in the way of story. It is all character buildup and it is a bit much if you ask me. It really does feel like the beginning of the story happens at around the 40 minute mark.The ending is a bit drawn out and the last 5-10 minutes seem unnecessary. It is because of this that the film reaches 2 hours. It is long, especially for a low dialogue picture.Zhang Ziyi does lead this film, although there are a few other characters with just as much airtime. All the actors feel bland and that is more the style of the movie rather than poor acting.This film will not cater to everyone and it does take a chance at doing something out of the ordinary. It's a good watch if you can stand the slow burn of 120 minutes.
September 25, 2008
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic][color=indigo][font=Century Gothic]Absolutely incoherent film about Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and Shanghai in 1927 and 1931. Now, that's the part that I understood. Anything involving specific characters, or more precisely who was shooting at whom while at the same time carrying on love affairs with people on the other side completely escaped me. [/font][/color][/font]
December 14, 2004
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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