Dark Lady of Kung Fu (Review)

Dark Lady of Kung Fu

aka 蝶無影 aka Di wu ying aka Butterfly Pearl aka Dark Lady of Butterfly

Written and directed by Pearl Cheung Ling

What happens when you buy cheap drugstore makeup!

When evil dudes with bad ‘tudes are up to no goods, the Dark Lady of Kung Fu will fly in and rob the crap out of them, and then go all Robin Hood with their money! Yes, Pearl Cheung Ling has the director’s chair and the writing chair, and the world will never be the same! Dark Lady of Kung Fu is a remake of the Shaw Brothers’ film The Black Butterfly, which is a sort of remake of Black Rose and other female noble thief flicks. It’s all about the connections, man!

Goth Zorro vs the Spray Paint Kid!

This is one of several films written and directed by Pearl Cheung Ling, one of the few female directors out of Taiwan, who became an auteur force directing and writing three films and being heavily involved in the production of a few more, as well as television series and music. She has a very distinct fantasy style that has garnered her many loyal fans and many shared clips on YouTube. Because this is a Pearl Cheung Ling flick, you can expect lots of goofy things going on. Morons in positions of authority will be humiliated by Pearl Cheung Ling’s character’s brilliance. Pearl will wear crazy elaborate pre-gothic lolita costumes. There will be wirework.

Someone gave those hands from Labyrinth their own show!

The worst part of Dark Lady of Kung Fu is I own two versions of it, and they both are either fullscreen or fake widescreen where it’s obvious there is things going on just off camera. Both copies also suffer from the same awful English dubbing. How many of the puns are native to the script vs. made up by the dubbers is a mystery that won’t be solved until we get a proper subtitled verison. So we’ll not know if henchmen Laurel and Hardy are really named those names. Not to mention the guy named Cool Han Look. Come to think of it, there is no way those names are native to the script.

More Batman than Batman

Butterfly Bandit (Pearl Cheung Ling) – She’s a mystery and robbin’ from the rich to give to the neighborhood! Look out, evil rich dudes, you’re about to join the 99%!
Monkey G (Pearl Cheung Ling) – The leader of the beggar group known as the Monkeys, and master thief. She used to be a lower case g, but now she’s full capital Monkey G. She’s totally not Butterfly Bandit, why would you ever think of such a thing? Just because she’s never in the same place at the same time is just a coincidence! Have YOU ever been at the same place as Hitler? I rest my case….HITLER!!!!!
Shadow (Tien Peng) – A mysterious fighter searching for his missing mad father and he gets very angry when people disrespect his shadow. Way to take that Me and My Shadow song waaaaaaay too seriously, dude! He is the handsome love interest for Monkey G.
Madam Kim Simon (???) – A crossdressing lady who owns the fighting club. Her father is evil and planning a rebellion, but Madam Kim doesn’t stand for his evil ways.
Sheriff Feng (???) – A goofy guy with a fake mustache is ordered to track him down (at this point they think Butterfly is a dude) and recover all the stolen gold – or he’ll be killed and deducted the amount of missing gold.
Houdini (???) – I knew that Magician was a jerk! Now he’s stopped his humbug quest and is trying to fund rebellions in China! Luckily for China, the Butterfly Bandit is on the case!
How dare you say this movie is hard to follow! Only I may say that!

Typical streetwear here in the Bay Area..

The Butterfly Bandit is terrorizing the rich people of the land. Despite a large reward placed on her head, the Butterfly Bandit remains at large (and at this point everyone seems to think she’s a dude.) Butterfly Bandit is tired of this idiocy and shows up to humiliate local reward seekers who have vowed to capture her, robbing them of all their money! It’s flipping the script, old school!

My favorite guy of the screeching morons who were after the reward is someone who claims to have No Name but will be called The Invincible Master once he defeats Butterfly Bandit. He obviously has enough of her, because he’s next seen trying to defeat The Killer Prince Mr. Wu, who is the most wanted outlaw in the land. “I told you before, my name is No Name. No is my surname. And Name….is my name!” yells No Name when Mr. Wu is confused about who this guy is. Mr. Wu then tires of the games and easily slaughters No Name (who probably went on to be buried in an unmarked grave! Zing!)

This week on Deviant Art!
All unauthorized fan art will result in your murder!
Pearl in the shell. GET IT???

There is a team of beggars called the Monkeys that have robbing shenanigans all over the town. These Monkeys do monkey around, because their whole day’s activities end up netting absolutely nothing. Of course, they work for Butterfly Bandit’s human alter-ego, who goes by the name Monkey G. She’s the master thief so masterful that she quickly steals them some dinner. And the Monkeys are unaware that she moonlights as a masked hero. Monkey G’s introduction scene is pure spectacular, with Pearl bathing fully clothed in a giant pink clam shell with more bubbles than a bubble factory. She also employs rope-controlled laundry beaters to both beat laundry and beat goofy Monkeys.

While eating with her troupe, they get into a spat with the new Sheriff, who she runs rings around logically. Though not a tough task, she manages to do it in a neat way. Everyone in town hangs out at the local Fight Club (The first rule is…..you need money to get in! Ha-ha, fooled you! But, seriously, they need money to get it.) To get the money, the Monkeys do one of the most ridiculous ways to earn money I’ve ever seen in a film. Monkey B gets in a barrel and people pay to have a chance to chop off her head. As you are aware, Monkey B has superb kung fu skills and can dodge all swipes, thus earning a big stack of cash (and giving the sadly common animal cruelty in Pearl’s films…)

The best character in the film
When Strawberry Shortcake went bad…

In the club, in the club…one of the fighters is dressed up like a Bulldog (his name: Bulldog!) There is more fighting outside of the ring by some of Mr. Wu’s men thanks to girlfriend drama, all to the annoyance of a guy named Shadow. He humiliates the fighters, after which the Butterfly Bandit arrives and robs everyone. And as soon as she leaves, Monkey G comes out of the sauna wondering what is going on. Hmm….

The club’s owner is Madam Kim, who is searching for a blue flowered bracelet called the Blue Rose. Monkey G mockes Mr. Wu for his men getting bested by Shadow, and before he kills her Shadow shows up to fight Mr. Wu. This ends in a draw (with Shadow ahead on points) when everyone notices Shadow has the Blue Rose, but his is a a matching bracelet from his father Sing. Mr. Wu and men try to kill Shadow, but he kills them all, earning Madam Kim’s respect. The two talk, causing a now disguised Butterfly Bandit to remark: “Very corny, I must say. A loose woman…with a loose man!”

Shadow’s dad Sing turns out to be a crazy chemist at work on a secret project for a mystery bad guy. This project is a giant cannon!

Fight Club’s mural created by Mrs. Walker’s Second Grade Class
Between the two of them, they can watch 3D films!
Someone has turned reality into a warped fantasy playland!

There is some very confusing scenes involving a missing jade from one of the Blue Rose bracelets containing the secret cannon powder formula, someone altering it and sewing it into his body, that character dying but also having an identical twin brother (named Cool Han Look!), grave robbing, hopping vampires, the Close Encounters of the Third Kind theme song, guardians of the cemetery, Butterfly Bandit saving the Monkeys, and other nonsense. Scenes are missing or dubbed incorrectly to the point where it got confusing, but it all ends with Monkey G having possession of the Blue Rose jade that has the secret formula on it, though she doesn’t know it was secretly altered. She gets Madam Kim to cough up a lot of dough for it, but the trade never takes place.

Shadow’s attempt to reunite with his dad ends in failure as his dad too out of it to recognize him, and Madam Kim kills Cool Han Look when he rejects and then tries to kill her for being a crossdresser.

There is a long sequence involving Houdini and a magic act happens, and it turns out that Houdini is the brother of Kim’s father, who turns out to be the evil guy planning the rebellion against the Emperor. Kim’s father is played by Tien Feng, who was in the original Black Butterfly film. Yes, Dark Lady of Kung Fu was decades ahead of it’s time in casting actors from the previous versions of a film in the new version! Houdini captures and hypnotizes Monkey G and demands Butterfly Bandit information, but all he gets is a confession that Monkey G hates Butterfly Bandit, then Monkey G escapes.

Our characters are as ridiculous as this device!
I wrote this and I’m confused!
The Butterfly Bandit is too good to even look at her victims!

Butterfly Bandit, Madam Kim, and Shadow conference and decide to team up to stop the rebellion. The plan is all three will dress up as Butterfly Bandit and cause trouble. This isn’t what happens, as Butterfly Bandit has her own secret plan where she goes in with the Monkeys dressed as slaves and take over the cannon as the other two heroes attack, using the cannon against the villains. Houdini and Dad Kim die horrible ironic deaths as gold is cannoned into their faces.

Sheriff Feng swoops in and claims all the credit as the Monkeys play dead and then escape with tons of money. The Monkeys end up working at Madam Kim’s club, while Monkey G/Butterfly Bandit leaves town with Shadow to be in love. Except he tells her to never take off her mask, causing her to break the fourth wall to complain about it!

I should have never left the Klingon homeworld..
This guy is far too sober to be an engineer…
All detailed plans of complex devices are made in Sharpie!

Dark Lady of Kung Fu is an energetic ride that goes places that you won’t see much anywhere else. It’s not a classical kung fu film (much to the anger of the kung fu purists out there!), it’s a fantasy fairy tale that just happens to be set in the middle of an existing wuxia story. Despite the middle plot confusion, awful existing copies, terrible dubbing, and annoying side characters, Dark Lady of Kung Fu never stops being entertaining. And like all of Pearl’s directed films, it’s a unique experience that leaves you a better person.

On a final note, before Butterfly Bandit leaves, she tells Madam Kim to not be ashamed of who she is. This causes Madam Kim to no longer hide the fact she is a cross-dresser. It is pretty neat to see something so progressive in such an older film. Too bad the dubbers weren’t so keen, as they named one of the cross-dressing characters Sissy.

When the James Bond title breaks down!
Finally we’ll know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!
One Ring to rule them all…
Hi, we’re here for the Zorro convention!

Rated 8/10 (Ocean Shores, Ocean Shores, Wanted, Proclamation, Wanted More, Bulldog, Wanted the Most!, Altered!)

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They’re shocked at how many more photos there are than text in this review !
Dark Lady of Head Fu!
Better red than dead!
I’ve officially run out of mask jokes now.
So that’s why it’s the “dark” lady of kung fu…
We’re evil, but we’re also jerks!
I’m gonna steal this Orange Julius…
Vote Ron Paul!

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!