Your average butterfly knife. Source
The butterfly knife, also known as a balisong
, is a traditional Filipino knife. Its design, with two rotating handles, allow it to be flipped open and closed
. It will usually appear in the hands of a Knife Nut
, who will perform a complex, flashy and noisy
flip. Anything beyond a simple and quick opening is Awesome but Impractical
as the hand is vulnerable to a strike disarm throughout the manipulation. Less frequently, a character will flip one open without fanfare and use it to cut something
The most common and recognizable design is skeletonized: holes in a line along each handle. The holes control balance and add grip. Traditional balisongs incorporate wood into their handles with brass accents.
Note that butterfly knives are illegal in many jurisdictions, although "practice" balisongs (i.e. with a blank piece of unsharpened metal instead of a blade) usually aren't.
Not to be confused with butterfly swords
, which are single-edged short-swords that are dual-wielded
and used in Chinese Kung Fu.
- In a commercial for San Miguel beer, Stephen Chow performs a manipulation with a butterfly bottle opener that impresses and attracts all the women in the bar. The bartender assists by sliding the bottle over in a bucket of ice. Butterfly bottle openers do exist, but the design used in the commercial (flat, large rectangular hole) must be wider than bottle caps. This extra width over knife blades adds weight, affects balance, and throws off flipping. Due to this inherent flaw, nearly all are cheap novelties.
- Battle Royale: At the beginning of the movie, Nobu stabs Kitano with a butterfly knife. The attack triggers Kitano's resignation and later selection as the class's Program Director. When Nobu drops the bloody knife while fleeing, Noriko grabs and hides it. At the end of the movie, Noriko retrieves the knife from her desk before going on the run with Shuya.
- Casino Royale: Le Chiffre's bald mook uses a spearpoint butterfly knife to cut out Bond's tracker and to remove the chair's seat in preparation for the rope torture. It resembles a paratrooper knife in the first scene, but he flips it before and after the chair.
- Joey Pants' character pulls one on The Goonies when confronting them at the waterfall. He doesn't even bother with any fancy opening tricks and simply unfolds it because, hey, pulling a knife on a bunch of kids is probably going to scare them anyway.
- Face/Off: One of the most memorable appearances of the balisong in a movie is when Castor Troy-as-Sean Archer gives Archer's daughter Jamie a kris-bladed knife for protection after he rescues her from an attempted rape. It's ultimately used on him when he takes her as a human shield as Archer-as-Castor trains a pistol on him.
- Frank gets a minor awesome moment in The Punisher (2004) when an abusive boyfriend of Joanie's pulls one on him while drunkenly mumbling threats. Frank immediately punches the dude's nose in and takes the knife, expertly closing it and admonishing the guy not to play with knives before smacking him hard on his already broken nose with the hilt.
- In Falling Down, the main character upgrades his baseball bat in his first encounter with the gang members. The gang member flips it open in a threatening display, but can't complete the simple opening smoothly.
- Kick-Ass: Hitgirl got two for her birthday. And then got quizzed on the correct name for it used in the Philippines.
- A Mook tried to intimidate her with a fancy flip routine. She was less than impressed, pulling out one of the abovementioned gifts and doing a better one.
- In Lethal Weapon 4, one of Wah Sing Ku's mooks wields a butterfly knife. Oddly, Jeff Imada plays the other mook.
- The Mummy Trilogy has Rick use one most prominently to pry a giant scarab beetle from under Jonathan's skin. In quieter scenes, he uses it to cut things.
- The Outsiders: Two-Bit carries a butterfly knife. In an early confrontation, he smashes a bottle on a fence, passes it to Ponyboy, and flips his knife open.
- In Payback, the Chow's Bodyguard, played by Jeff Imada, flips a butterfly knife and prepares to cut Porter before being interrupted by the corrupt cops.
- One of the gang members in the diner scene in Streets of Fire whips one of these out. The hero smacks it out of his hand, then hands it back to the gang member with the challenge, "Try that again." The gang member does, with the same result. The hero keeps it and uses it a few times, flourishing it whenever he pulls it out.
- In the first scene of Transporter 2, the large carjacker pulls one on Frank.
- Buckingham is playing with one when he is talking to captured D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers (2011).
- Chow Yun-fat's Gou Fei uses one during the first major fight of Full Contact.
- One of the Lords of Death brings one out in Big Trouble in Little China, along with a telescopic baton. He doesn't actually use them though, just waves them at Jack until another guy trips Jack up from behind.
- Hannibal Chau brandishes a gold-plated one during a few scenes in Pacific Rim. He later uses it to cut out of a Kaiju's stomach.
- At the start of The Transporter 2 a carjacker pulls one on Frank with accompanying flashy opening. Frank kicks it out of his hand, catches the knife by the handle, does his own flashy moves up against the carjacker's throat, pauses to enjoy the Oh, Crap look on his face, then knocks him out with a punch.
- Elementary: Sherlock carries a butterfly knife and uses it to cut through a lithograph in "The Leviathan" and dig out a test-fired bullet in "Details". In "M", he adds it to his collection of torture implements, but he doesn't use it. Sherlock's manipulations are simple and competent.
- In the Law & Order episode "Knock Off", Dianne Cary (guest Katee Sackhoff) has a butterfly knife sitting on a shelf open, next to a pair of nunchaku. She became obsessed with martial arts and self-defense after being raped.
- In an early episode of Burn Notice Michael uses one to puncture a tire.
- Episode "Glass Houses" (S1E20), Jaden uses a break in the fight to draw a butterfly knife, but she botches the opening. Nathan shoots Jaden to save Alex.
- In "Pale Fire" (S2E11), a Gogol mook flips a butterfly knife open and slashes Alex, but she traps it and kills him with it.
- In the White Collar third mid-season finale "Countdown", Keller snacks on a mango while threatening Mozzie, cutting pieces off with a butterfly knife. It is locked open and not flipped, which would be difficult to do while coated in juice.
- Charlie in Spin City uses one to carve the description of Caitlin's sex dream into his desk.
- A 1980's made-for-TV movie "Trial of the Incredible Hulk" (the Bixby-Ferrigno version), introduced the character Daredevil. A mook attempts to threaten Daredevil with some noisy balisong flipping, to which The Man Without Fear simply comments "Your knife hurts my ears" before pounding the guy.
- The protagonist of The Takers by Jerry Ahern uses one to kill some modern-day pirates so he can get his hands on a gun to kill the rest.
- Yakuza assassin Junji "Kappa" Kon in The Man with the Red Tattoo carries a butterfly knife on himself at all times, and puts it on a deadly use on few targets.
- BlazBlue: One of Hazama's iconic weapons is a set of especially vicious-looking curved butterfly knives (the other being his Grappling-Hook Pistol Nox Nyctores, Ouroboros).
- In StarCraft II, Gabriel Tosh flips a butterfly knife during some of his conversations. Since it is computer generated, his manipulations are fast and crisp. If the player picks Nova's mission, she will flip the knife after assassinating him.
- Team Fortress 2's Spy uses a butterfly knife as his default melee weapon; either for a relatively weak stab, or an instant-kill Back Stab.
- Brayko from Alpha Protocol uses a butterfly knife. He flips it during combat when he goes on his cocaine-fueled stabby rampages.
- In Saints Row 2 a butterfly knife is one of the many melee weapons the protagonist can use.