Reviewed by: wyeeso
Summary: When a butterfly is in flames...
Reviewer Score: 6
I don't know why this film is named "Ms Butterfly" (or "The Confidential Case of the Flaming Butterfly" if translated directly from the Chinese title) other than the butterfly being the tattoo on the protagonist's chest. So, I decided to search it up as my curiosity kills me slowly. As a result, I can't find any related information on "flaming butterfly" (or whatever its proper name is). All I know is that the butterfly has already become extinct (which came from a unreliable source found on Chinese Wikipedia). Since I can't find the symbolism of "flaming butterfly" and link it to the story (or the protagonist's life experience), I guess I'll just have to treat and rate this film as a regular delinquent/crime drama for now.
The reason why I've labeled this film as a "delinquent/crime drama" is the story has naturally inscribed with delinquent/crime elements such as love, hate, rebellion, revenge, cigarettes and alcohol, attempted rape and murder, thefts, arson, violence, foul language and so on. And this is the kind of story that belongs to a young girl named Cat (played by Jacqueline Law), who acts tough and pissed all the time towards everything and everyone. Yet, there's always a story behind the flame of anger that has lighted a heart. Just as the audiences are getting tired of her flamed-out attitude and wonder why she has to be so malicious towards her ex-boyfriend Ben (played by Wilson Lam) and his new girlfriend Alda (played by Eileen Tong), who both have been conniving her misbehavior, her past and the reason for her love and hate, as well as the story of her "flaming butterfly" tattoo, are soon revealed in a flashback. On the other hand, we've also learned that Cat has started a secret life as a professional car thief in order to clear out an endless debt for her gambling father (played by Wong Chung-Kui). However, there're only 2 or 3 scenes where we get to see Cat stealing valuable cars like a professional before she and the illegal car dealer (played by Wong Ching) declare a so-called war on each other. And eventually, as the "war" gets more aggressive and intense, the girl with the butterfly tattoo is set in flames (hey, cool, I've finally made a connection between Cat and "flaming" butterfly) and is hospitalized!
To my surprise, as the movie seems to be a tragedy with all the violence and revenge, I thought the movie will at least end with some deaths, but I guess that's not the ending for this film. Instead, the last scene happens to be a happy ending, with Cat letting go of her ex-boyfriend and move on to her new boyfriend Dog (played by Michael Miu).
Overall, the story is a little bit more than an average delinquent/crime drama with just crimes and violence. In fact, the film puts emphasis on the attitude and behaviors of the main characters, which also allows the audiences to understand their roles and personality in the story. A simple example is that we see Ben often helps his friends to cover up their wrongs, so we know that he is a kind and easy-going man.
Still, I think I'll give the plot a higher rate if there's an actual symbolic connection between "flaming butterfly" and the story.
I'll have to say the performance from the actors in general is just average, probably because the roles weren't that challenging to act out. And just because their characters have to speak with vulgar lines all the time to add a bit of reality to the drama, it just doesn't automatically define their performance as impressive. But if I ever have to say I'm impressed with the actors in this film, I'll only refer my appreciations to Jacqueline Law and Eileen Tong for sacrificing themselves on screen by acting as the victims of assaults and attempted rape!
[The Production Crew:]
No subtitles are provided in this film, so I don't doubt this is the reason why I'm the first and only one writing the review. However, even as a Cantonese native speaker, I often have trouble hearing what some characters, especially Bobby Yip with his Min Nan accent, were saying during the presentation of the film. I guess a logical reason why this film has no subtitles is the characters drop way too many f-bombs way too often (nearly every line they say), which made it difficult for the subtitle crew to type them out on screen (and that is why this movie is a Category III).
As for the stunts for some of the car scenes in the film, they don't look too striking, but are somewhat amazing when the vehicles are rolled over by the monster jeep, torn apart with a winch straps with a hook, and sent down the sea as a piece of junk.
I think the lines are more memorable then the scenes in this film. One of the classic lines, as said by Bobby Yip (with his Min Nan accent), is: "My ma took double contraceptive pill, my pop wore double condoms, but they still couldn't avoid to have me. So don't think you guys can escape from me!"
[Worth Watching A Second Time?]
Although the use of casual profanity in HK films (especially those in the 80s and 90s) is meant to represent the Cantonese (language) and HK culture in reality, it's still not suitable and recommended for youngsters and those who hate the dropping sound of the f-bombs to watch it at all. Otherwise, it's ok to watch it for the first time, but the production in general is not worth the time to watch it again.