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Based on 12 Reviews
critic reviews (10)
fan reviews ( )
  • 100
    San Francisco Chronicle

    A gorgeously shot, ambitious epic. show more

  • 75
    V.A. Musetto New York Post

    Director Lou Ye, who gave us the lilting "Suzhou River," doesn't care much for dialogue. He lets Wang Yu's pulsating camerawork do the talking. show more

  • 38
    Ty Burr Boston Globe

    Ye bites off substantially more than he can chew. show more

  • 50
    Maitland McDonagh TV Guide

    The effect is hypnotically disorienting, but the less familiar you are with this period in 20th-century Chinese history, the easier it is to get hopelessly lost in the tangle of personal and political loyalties and betrayals. show more

  • 58
    Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly

    Too often, Purple Butterfly is as impenetrable as Zhang's placid, obdurate beauty. show more

  • 58
    Sean Axmaker Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    Rich with emotional turmoil and searing beauty, but it could have used a little more time in the editing room to make sense of it all. show more

  • 90
    Kevin Thomas Los Angeles Times

    As atmospheric and moody as a film noir, the stylish, sometimes perplexing Purple Butterfly is a remarkable period piece, evoking the bustling, dense and increasingly dangerous Shanghai of the '30s show more

  • 80
    Ella Taylor L.A. Weekly

    Hectic, lyrical, swooningly romantic and almost unwatchably brutal, Purple Butterfly deploys a modern Asian gangster-movie aesthetic to tell a love story of Shakespearean dimensions. show more

  • 80
    Noel Murray The A.V. Club

    A sumptuously moody memory play. show more

  • 80
    Dana Stevens The New York Times

    Mr. Lou synthesizes a wide range of styles and influences - from "Casablanca" to Wong Kar-wai - resulting in a movie that, for all its haunting strangeness, seems curiously familiar. show more

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