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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Butterfly Man
Butterfly Man
Vanguard // R // December 23, 2003
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted January 8, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Butterfly Man (2002) tells the tale of Adam (Stuart Liang) a British twenty-something who has traveled to Thailand with his girlfriend. By the time they settle into their hotel room the two have already broken up and parted ways with Adam venturing off to find the "real Thailand." Apparently his idea of the "real Thailand" is strip clubs and techno bars. Adam meets Em (Napakpapha Nakprasitte), a beautiful masseuse, and falls for her. But, the cultural differences, namely that Em won't make out with him, leads Adam to jeopardize their relationship after he spends the night with a prostitute. Even after he has lost all of his money, Adam tries to win Em back and remains in Thialand. He is forced into some shady business that leads him to believe human traffickers have arranged to export Em to Europe and a life of slavery.

The term "butterfly man"refers to foreigners who come to Thailand and then float from woman to woman- one of the reasons Em initially refuses to get intimate with Adam. The film is a pretty lightweight tale, and, unlike a butterfly, it is leaden. The problem with this exotic travelers adventure that it is fairly formulaic and the acting and visuals are not engaging enough. There is just a tameness present that dulls the romantic drive (both between the characters and in the setting) the film needs. First time feature maker and commercial director Kaprice Kea has assembled a typical narrative and while diving into the alleyways, beaches, and nightclubs of Thailand, the direction is slapdash and sloppy so you don't get immersed the locale.

This is Napakpapha Nakprasitte's debut film and it shows. Although Em is supposed to have a shaky command of English, which Napakpapha clearly does, the language barrier doesn't help her much and her acting feels as phonetic as her speak. At first it was hard for me to gauge Stuart Laing as an actor because he bears an uncanny resemblance to Sam Rockwell. Aside form the British accent you'd swear you were watching Sam Rockwell's younger twin. But, overall Liang doesn't have much to work with- and not work with it he does. Adam is just a unlovable guy with no real focus. I suppose you are supposed to get a sense of his "finding himself", such is the case with so many of these people-immersed-in-exotic-countries movies, but despite Em seeing some strength within him, he just seems to fail and move onto the next pocket of life.

The DVD:

Picture: Full-screen. The print quality here is pretty bad. Now, I understand that it is a low budget film, but there are quite a few instances where the quality of the print is badly damaged, particulary in a few night scenes. I'm speaking off full scale wear and tear, a combination of being ill-exposed and spotty. The full-screen nature of the transfer should be the biggest clue that an A-qulaity transfer wasnt on anyones mind. The sharpness and color are okay, but for a recent film they are lackluster.

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0. The sound is very modest. The ocassional burst of nightclub techno music are cut and paste. The score is a bit off-balance, rythmically not fitting the emotions or cutting of the scenes very well. The dialouge is okay, though there are some instances where Western viewers will have to strain to understand the lead characters accents.

Extras: Chapter Selections— Trailer

Conclusion: The film did not leave much of an impression. It was not a bad little indie effort, but ultimately it deosnt speak very much and is tv movie predictable. The DVD transfer is very weak, a poor print, making this only worth a rental to anyone interested in giving it a looksee.

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