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The Butterfly Chalice

Hu Die Bei
1965 / 88m - Hong Kong
Romance, Musical
The Butterfly Chalice poster

This is where it all started for the infamous Cheh Chang/Shaw Bros collaboration. Don't expect a typical Chang film though, The Butterfly Chalice is a mix of musical elements (which is why they also brought in Chiu Feng Yuan) and revenge/action scenes, which don't make a lot of sense when put together.

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As Yu Quan notices an old fisherman being attacked by a rude official, he jumps in and inadvertently kills the fisherman's assailant. The district officials chase Yu Quan, but with the help of the fisherman's daughter he manages to escape. To commemorate her good deed and their eternal friendship, Yu Quan gifts her a butterfly chalice.

What's nice about these older Shaw Bros film is that they're not all studio work, which generally makes for better-looking films. Chang's potential for action already shines through, but that's only a small part of the film. I'm not a big fan of Chinese opera and that really stands in the way of enjoying The Butterfly Chalice. Still, it's interesting to see how Chang got started.