Year: 2004
USA: Palm Pictures
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Liu Ye, Yuanzheng Feng, TOru Nakamura, Li Bingbing, Kin Ei
Director: Lou Ye
Countries: China / France
Languages: Mandarin / Japanese / Vietnamese (English subtitles)
USA: 127 mins
USA Rated: R for strong violence and a scene of sexuality
USA Release Date: 26 November 2004 (Limited Release - New York)


From the director of prize-winning film SUZHOU RIVER and starring Ziyi Zhang (HERO), PURPLE BUTTERFLY follows the story of a young woman caught between love and duty as she tries to frantically escape past memories and elude her impending destiny

1927. Manchuria. Itami, a young Japanese man, falls deeply in love with Cynthia, a beautiful Chinese girl. Their brief happiness ends when he is called home for his military service and they are forced to part. Returning sorrowfully from the train station where she has bid her lover farewell, Cynthia witnesses her brother's bloody murder at the hands of Japanese right-wing extremists.

Three years later, Shanghai has been unofficially occupied by Japan. The city is tense, rife with violence and barely contained anarchy. Cynthia - now known as Ding Hui - is working for Purple Butterfly, a resistance group planning to assassinate Yamamoto, head of the Japanese secret service. Itami is also in Shanghai, operating as a secret agent and reporting directly to Yamamoto.

Arriving at Shanghai station to meet his fiance, Szeto, a young Chinese man is mistaken by the assembled resistance fighters for the assassin they have engaged to eliminate Yamamoto. Violence erupts and Szeto's fiance is shot dead in the crossfire. Szeto escapes with the Purple Butterfly members, all of whom believe him to be the hired killer. Only Ding Hui realises the truth...

Thus three destinies are linked by chance, and three fates ineluctably set in tragic motion.