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Film / Black Butterfly

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Stings like a deadly butterfly!

Black Butterfly is a 1968 Wuxia movie directed by Lo Wei and produced by Shaw Brothers.

The Black Butterfly is a Robin Hood-esque thief who steals from rich, corrupt ministers to distribute their wealth to the poor, evading the authorities by night and making a name for herself as she strikes fear in evil-doers. But in reality, she is Kwan Bao-zhu (Lisa Chiao), the daughter of the retired warrior, Golden Sword Kwan Yee, who is oblivious to his only child being a thief in secret.

Soon enough, the Kwan father and daughter will uncover each other's secrets, when they each tried to investigate the theft of an imperial seal, and ends up working together to defeat a powerful bandit lord terrorizing the city.

The Black Butterfly contain examples of:

  • Action Girl: Bao-zhu, the eponymous Black Butterfly, the best fighter in the film capable of taking plenty of names.
  • Amazon Brigade: Among Chief Gai Tian Lui's legion of mooks are a platoon of female warriors, who serves as his Praetorian Guards.
  • Big Bad: Bandit Lord, Chief Gai Tian Lui who leads an army of evil-doers in terrorizing the city.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The finale, where Golden Sword Kwan Yee, Black Butterfly Kwan Bao-zhu, the Drunken Beggar, and their team of warriors and acolytes launched a direct raid on Master Gai's fortress swarming with mooks.
  • Calling Card: At the scene of each theft, after raiding treasures from the vault of corrupt officials, Bao-zhu will leave behind a metal hairpin shaped like a black butterfly. See, that's how she got her name.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Bao-zhu uses strategies to overcome numerically superior enemies in several fights, especially evident in the finale: confronted by mooks who corners her with shields, she gets around them by throwing flaming pellets at their feet, setting their clothes alight causing the mooks to drop their shields as they scatter, allowing her to kill every mook with ease.
  • David vs. Goliath: The entire final battle, where the heroes, whose ranks totals to around twenty — including Golden Sword Kwan Yee, Black Butterfly Kwan Bao-zhu and the Drunken Beggar — fights Chief Gai and his army, whose platoon totals to nearly a hundred. The heroes practically sliced their way through the bandit ranks with ease without suffering any casualties, though the fact that the bandits are a Keystone Army who stopped fighting the moment Kwan Yee and Kwan Bao-zhu killed their boss probably helps.
  • Deadly Disc: The Drunken Beggar uses his Weaponized Headgear as a razor-sharp disc in the finale, throwing it in a circular arc and killing half a dozen enemies surrounding him in a few seconds.
  • Drunken Master: Bao-zhu's Master, the Drunken Beggar, who is shown chugging from a wine gourd in most of his screentime. He's the old expert who trained the Black Butterfly, Bao-zhu, in her kung-fu skills, and in the final battle he gets to assist his student in kicking ass... while carrying his wine gourd along.
  • Dual Wield: The Black Butterfly wields twin short-swords when she's intending to take names, which is against the bandit army in the finale.
  • In a Single Bound: Basically every major character. The titular heroine especially, who scales walls by jumping, leaps over the heads of enemies, jumps vertically upwards to grab on ceilings while avoiding archers... in classic wuxia fashion.
  • In the Back: How the main villain, Chief Gai Tian Lui is taken down; having trapped Gold Sword Kwan Yee in a cage, he then duels the heroine, Kwan Yee's daughter Kwan Bao-zhu one-on-one; however he ends up fighting her with his back pressed against the cage's doors, forgetting that Kwan Yee is still in there with a sword, at which point Kwan Yee interrupts the duel by running his sword through the villain's back.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The Black Butterfly steals from the vaults of rich, corrupt officials, distributing silver and gold pieces to the poor while evading soldiers and guards.
  • Master Swordsman: Most of the heroes, with Golden Sword Kwan Yee and his daughter Kwan Bao-zhu sticking out of the rest. They take plenty of names wielding swords in big fight scenes, mostly in the 15-minute-long final raid sequence.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Seemingly played straight; the villain Chief Gai have a team of female mooks, absolutely none which are shown dying onscreen in the final battle sequence. Male mooks dies in droves in the hands of the heroes, but after the final battle the remaining mooks are mentioned to be either killed or arrested, and the villains' female guards appears to be among the latter.
  • Parent-Child Team: By the final scene, Golden Sword Kwan Yee and his daughter Black Butterfly Kwan Bao-zhu are kicking ass together, fighting legions and legions of Chief Gai's mooks with ease and even duelling the villain together.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Golden Sword Kwan Yee, having retired from the martial world, doesn't want his daughter Bao-zhu to become a warrior. But unbeknowst to him, Bao-zhu had learnt martial arts in secret from the Drunken Beggar, and is actually the mysterious thief known as the Black Butterfly. He learns the truth when Bao-zhu, under the disguise as Black Butterfly, saves him.
  • Parrying Bullets: The final battle had a scene where Golden Sword Kwan Yee, Black Butterfly Kwan Bao-zhu, and their small team of kung-fu experts wipes out the first wave of bandits, only to be trapped in a courtyard, surrounded by archers. They are then in the middle of a Rain of Arrows; but to the villains' shock, they simply parries every arrow fired at them, non-stop for two minutes, to the point where the bandits runs out of arrows.
  • Protagonist Title: The Black Butterfly refers to the film's Robin-Hood-esque heroine.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Kwan Bao-zhu, the titular heroine, wears purple during her night infiltration scenes, and kicks plenty of ass as she does.
  • Red Baron: Golden Sword Kwan Yee, the now-retired legendary warrior and his daughter Black Butterfly Kwan Bao-zhu, the mysterious thief who steals from the rich to aid the poor.
  • Retired Badass: Golden Sword Kwan Yee, once a renown, honourable warrior, who had left the martial world years ago back when his daughter Kwan Bao-zhu is merely a child. He kept his past a secret from his child, but inevitably she finds out.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": The Black Butterfly isn't a fan of killing unless she needs to; when battling city guards and soldiers whom are just doing their jobs, she knocks them out with her sword non-fatally while avoiding their attacks. When she's ready to kill, such as facing the army of bandits and evil-doers, then that's a different story.
  • Secret Identity: The mysterious thief known as Black Butterfly is Kwan Bao-zhu, daughter of the retired kung-fu master Kwan Yee, who spends her days dressed like the dainty, feminine daughter of a retired warrior-lord, but is actually a very capable fighter who can take plenty of names.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: In the final battle, Chief Gai summons a group of shielded bandit mooks to corner the heroes, turning themselves into a makeshift wall. The heroine Bao-zhu however simply leaps over their shields and drops flaming pellets on the shielded mooks, making them drop their shields.
  • Sword Fight: Plenty of it, especially in the final battle.
  • Weaponized Headgear: The Drunken Beggar uses his Weaponized Headgear as a razor-sharp disc in the finale, throwing it in a circular arc and killing half a dozen enemies surrounding him in a few seconds.
  • Wire Fu