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流星蝴蝶劍 (1976)
Killer Clans

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 03/27/2018
Summary: Gorgeous wuxia

Killer Clans opened with what would be an "R" rated sex scene--in addition to exchanging body fluids and endearments a list of the next assassination victims is delivered. There was enigmatic love poetry; nudity and sexual violence; a very high body count with extras stacked like cordwood and lots of bright red blood. One of the many weapons was circular blade that could be dropped over the head of the opponent and pulled, severing his neck and cutting off his head. It was used twice in an early fight with two decapitated corpses and two loose heads rolling around. A fighter then smeared the blood of one of the dead men on his face and put the weapon on his head, looking like a particularly demented Fury from Greek tragedy or a featured extra in a Jess Franco film. Another was a hat brim that turned into a big circular saw blade plus the usual steel darts launched from wrists and long pikes that snapped into battle axes on the fly.

There were many double crosses--whenever an ambush seems to succeed it is only the basis for the next round of slaughter as those ambushed call on their slyly hidden reinforcements to for the kill. An example was a funeral which was set in an area ripe for ambush by the Roc society. When the ambush was sprung, the Roc fighters were surrounded by Lung Men soldiers who slaughtered the Roc ambushers. But when the funeral was about to begin again the caskets flew open and two more Roc fighters jumped out and killed the two chief Lung Men mourners. A triple cross with a suicide mission but everyone was willing to fight to the death or even disembowel themselves for the honor of their society.

I gave up trying to figure out who was betraying who and just enjoyed the pristine transfer, superb fight choreography and over the top characterizations including actual mustache twirling by Wang Hsieh who played the head of the Roc clan, the most evil guy in the movie.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: calros
Date: 03/18/2008
Summary: My best Shaw

This is one of the best films produced by the company I have seen till now. The story is about double-cross and triple-cross intrigues and the movie is full of tunnels and secret entrances. The characters aren't specially pleasant so you don't know until the very last moment who is good and who is bad. The director took advantage of these premises to build a refined baroque style that bewitched me till the end. The usually high values of the company did the rest.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 08/18/2003
Summary: Top Notch underworld romp

This film is a great swordsman style romp through the underworld. What with all it's characters and detail, it could be classed as an epic (at least within that genre). The story is the same as the 90's Michelle Yeoh movie Butterfly and Sword, but it is told here with a delicate touch and closer to the original novel. If I was being picky, I could say that there were too many double crosses, but in a way it becomes quite entertaining cause you never know what is going to happen in the end! All in all this is a must own.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 06/01/2003
Summary: Genre pioneer

Much popularity of the Shaw Brothers swordplay subgenre of the late 70s owes to "Killer Clans" for pioneering the success. Although it lacks some star power--no Ti Lung, Derek Yee, or Liu Yung, Killer Clans is an undeniably intricate adaption of Gu Long's novel.

On a personal scale, Killer Clans is a favorite. I had seen it a few years back and enjoyed it, but this time around, watching it was a whole another level. First, the crispy remastered transfer helps. But more importantly, it's the magical story that drives the force.

I had just seen a TV series that is a remake of this novel, "Meteor, Butterfly, Sword." I completely fell in love with the story all over again, and I was eager to view Killer Clans one more time. The TV remake is actually a more faithful adaption, but Killer Clans is nevertheless much more faithful than "Butterfly Sword" (1993), the famous 90s adaption. To me, this novel is Gu Long's finest achievement. The structure of the story is extremely complex, and the theme of "trusting an enemy, but never a friend" is a scary one. The story truly embraces the saying "Jiang Hu is dangerous, but the mind is more dangerous."

Killer Clans is an excellent adaption. It was the best achievement possible at the time. The main downer is the action, which is an insult to the fantasy wuxia genre, but it didn't bother me, as I knew what to expect.


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/07/2003
Summary: difficult to follow but enjoyable

Maybe it's 'cause I've got a lot on my mind right now, but the 2nd film I watched from the Celestial Shaw Brothers archives was at least as difficult to follow as the first (THE HEROIC ONES). It all started coming together towards the end, but for the first half I really couldn't follow who was who and what they were all wanted from each other. But those of us who have seen and enjoyed later movies such as SWORDSMAN II and BUTTERFLY & SWORD should know that it's not essential to follow what's going on to enjoy a good wuxia movie, and KILLER CLANS is no exception.

The plot does feature some rival clans in the Jiang Hu, some classic beauties and chisel-jawed swordsmen, and tons of intrigue and conspiracy. I can't really summarise it much further

I enjoyed KILLER CLANS a lot more than THE HEROIC ONES, even though it made about as much sense. One reason was the visuals - the sets, costumes and cinematography were all drop-dead gorgeous, as only a Hong Kong period movie can be. Not quite King Hu level, but way above Chang Cheh. Also, the action was far more inventive and impressive here than in the HEROIC ONES. The Hong Kong martial arts movie had moved on a lot in those 6 years (which did include Bruce Lee's entire career after all), and Yuen Cheung Yan's choreography is great. There were still many techniques left to be developed before the wire-fu wuxia boom though, and the action is not as slick or beautiful as you get in the equivalent movies from the early 90's.

I'll probably watch the movie again before too long, and try to pay more attention when they introduce all the characters and explain what they want. I'll probably enjoy it even more when I understand what's happening


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 12/26/2002

This title to me was one of the standouts in the first batch of Shaw Bros. films released by IVL. Based on a Gu Long wuxia novel that was also the inspiration for the early nineties Michelle Yeoh film Butterfly and Sword, this movie features a star-studded cast and all the requisite plot elements of a typical wuxia novel, including poisonous darts, competing clans, outlandish weapons, trapdoors, duels, decapitations, heroic swordsmen, virginal beauties and evil villains with fake long beards.

The action is fairly tame by 90s standards, but the movie features enough fake blood, iconic fighting stances and surprising plot twists to make up for that. Despite a much larger cast with many lead characters, the story is actually easier to follow than Butterfly and Sword, and while the latter has some breathtakingly beautiful Taiwanese landscapes, this movie is shot mainly indoors on the Shaw Studios backlot, resulting in a much more confined, artificial mood, which works quite well for the story.


Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 12/15/2002

This flick is based on a Ku Lung novel that the 90’s flick, Butterfly, Comet, and the Sword is based on. The name of the Ku Long novel is actually “Liu sing (Comet), Hu Die (Butterfly), Chian (Sword)”. This flick has an all star cast and I believe this flick is the first in a long line of flicks that Chu Yuan will base his movies on the Ku Long novels. Basically, this flick is about clan rivalry. You have the Lung Men clan vs. the Roc clan. It looks like the Lung Men clan is gaining the upper hand, but then an internal power play by Lu Hsiang Chuan (Yueh Hua), the right hand man of the chief of the Lung Men clan, has him in the driver seat of the clan. The Chief of the clan, Uncle Sun Yu (Ku Feng), looks like he is on the ropes, but little does Lu Hsiang Chuan know that Uncle Sun Yu has been prepared for a power struggle for many years and has carefully planned his ascent back to the top. This flick seems to be a lesson on planning for the future in case of catastrophe or some kind of investigation on the outcome of greedy people. So why the title of the Comet, the butterfly, and the Sword ? Who is the comet? I guess the comet would be the name of the killer played by Tsung Hua. He’s unknown to everyone, but held in high regards when it comes to killing. He’s like a meteor, coming with a bang and disappearing. The butterfly would be Ching Li. A butterfly is beautiful, delicate, and in Chinese culture, it represents passion, love, and happiness. When you see the character by Ching Li, picture all of these things. The sword would signify all the fighting that is going on in this flick between the clans. The mightiest sword wins out. All in all, this flick is enjoyable to watch. Ku Feng in my opinion does a fantastic acting job and how many times have you ever seen Yueh Hua in a villain’s role?