Butterfly Lovers (2008)

The story is nothing remarkably original (I know it's a remake, but still...), a plot you've seen in many other romantic films. Could have been better. Butterfly Lovers stars Wu Chun (Romantic Princess) of boyband Fahrenheit, Charlene Choi (My Wife is 18) of Twins, and Hu Ge (Chinese Paladin 3).

Wu Chun and Charlene Choi played two people bound to fall in love and suffer for ten lifetimes. This movie is about their 10th lives in the mortal world. Zhu (Choi) was a girl cross-dressing as a boy to enroll in an all-male Soul Ease Clan, supposedly to learn martial arts. Naively thinking that her parents had finally allowed her to see the world, she embarked on the journey to the school. What she didn't know was that it was part of her parents' plan to save her from a tragedy that's about to befall their family. On her way to Soul Ease Clan, due to an unfortunate circumstance, she met Liang who was her savior, but misunderstanding caused her to have a bad impression of him. She continued her journey accompanied by a childhood friend, General Ma (Hu Ge), who was on his way to the palace.

At the martial arts school, Zhu was assisted by her father's old friend who was a Teacher of Herbal Medicine that acted as her secret keeper. She also found out that her savior was also her schoolmate. Known as the "Big Brother", Liang was very famous and everyone's favorite. At Liang's suggestion, Zhu's classmates decided that she should be given a welcoming ceremony that involved throwing her into the river and stripping her down, which could be a huuuuge problem since she was, afterall, a girl.

How she got away after being thrown into the river is beyond me since the movie jumped to the next scene. Due to that incident, Zhu fell sick and as a punishment, Liang was ordered to nurse her back to good health. I suppose this was the point where Zhu started to have a crush on Liang and they became close friends afterwards, as you might have guessed. Eventually, they fell in love.

To cut the story short, Ma came to pick Zhu's up to return her to the family. Zhu refused to go back, but after knowing the true story as to why she was sent to the clan in the first place, she relented and went home, promising to meet with Liang again when he came to town.

All went well in her mind, until she reached home and realized that her parents were to marry her off to Ma himself. Apparently, throughout the struggles the family had to go through, Ma was the one who helped them a lot, thus they felt indebted and naturally obliged to marry their daughter to him. Thus, the sufferings of the couple Zhu and Liang began.

Generally, I found the love story itself was kinda bland, and I was unconvinced by Zhu and Liang's affections towards each other. Instead of seeing a grand love worth dying for, I saw two kids getting infatuated and that's it. I suppose the characterization and screenwriting are pretty poor. But lucky me because the reason I wanted to watch this movie was Hu Ge, and he didn't disappoint. Despite him being the antagonist, I like watching his story more than the couple's itself.

However, his character came off too strong given the overall setting of the movie. It made me feel that if only this were a full length drama series instead of a 2-hour movie, then his character (in fact, all characters) could be fleshed out further and all his actions then would make better sense and even more meaningful. What happened instead, he became a character that's overly possessive without much justification. What's needed is probably some explanation as to why Zhu was such an important person to Ma that made him feel strongly for her, which unfortunately was not really mentioned in the movie.

Anyways, despite it could have been better in terms of story-telling (and I would prefer a more fleshed out and stronger plot), I actually love the cinematography and choreography. Personally, I thought the fighting scenes were all pretty impressive. The acting generally wasn't bad at all, except that I never liked Charlene Choi's acting so I could never warm up to her character much. But really, if there's anything worth mentioning about this movie, I would say the fighting scenes and Hu Ge. Peace!

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