Die Bian
1979 / 88m - Hong Kong
Action, Horror, Mystery
The Butterfly Murders poster


August 01, 2008


Hark Tsui's first, and man was he eager to prove his worth and leave a mark. Hong Kong is best known for its genre cinema, and most directors start at the very bottom, emulating what is popular on the cheap. Not Hark. His first film is a thing of its own, a very unique title in a sea of Shaw Bros martial arts look-a-likes and copycats. And it's damn good too.

When a corpse is discovered in a local shop, a journalist assembles his own ragtag team to start up a proper investigation. After some digging, the traces lead to a castle further down the road, where a community lives separate from the rest. They are dealing with some problems of their own, as strange butterflies are bothering the inhabitants of the castle.

The martial arts is probably the weakest part of the film, but that's not a big issue as it isn't the main focus here. Instead, we get a pretty straight-faced mystery/thriller. No inappropriate comedy, surprisingly solid and earnest performances, and impressive, moody cinematography. A perfect calling card for Hark, and one of the best Hong Kong films of the 70s. Well-recommended.