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Your average butterfly knife.

The Butterfly Knife, also known as a balisong, is a traditional Filipino knife. Its design, with two rotating handles, allow it to be flipped open and closed. It will usually appear in the hands of a Knife Nut, who will perform a complex, flashy and noisy flip. Anything beyond a simple and quick opening is Awesome but Impractical as the hand is vulnerable to a strike disarm throughout the manipulation.

The most common and recognizable design is skeletonized: holes in a line along each handle. The holes control balance and add grip.

Not to be confused with butterfly swords, which are single-edged short-swords that are dual-wielded and used in Chinese Kung Fu.

Examples of Butterfly Knife include:


  • In a commercial for San Miguel beer, Stephen Chow performs a manipulation with a butterfly bottle opener that impresses and attracts all the women in the bar. The bartender assists by sliding the bottle over in a bucket of ice.
    • Butterfly bottle openers do exist, but the design used in the commercial (flat, large rectangular hole) must be wider than bottle caps. This extra width over knife blades adds weight, affects balance, and throws off flipping. Due to this inherent flaw, nearly all are cheap novelties.


  • Battle Royale: At the beginning of the movie, Nobu stabs Kitano with a butterfly knife. The attack triggers Kitano's resignation and later selection as the class's Program Director. When Nobu drops the bloody knife while fleeing, Noriko grabs and hides it. At the end of the movie, Noriko retrieves the knife from her desk before going on the run with Shuya.
  • Casino Royale: Le Chiffre's bald mook uses a spearpoint butterfly knife to cut out Bond's tracker and to remove the chair's seat in preparation for the rope torture. It resembles a paratrooper knife in the first scene, but he flips it before and after the chair.
  • Face Off: After asking her "Do you have protection?" Castor Troy (disguised as Sean Archer) gives Archer's daughter a kris-bladed knife. It's ultimately used on him when she finally figures out which one is which.
  • In Falling Down, the main character upgrades his baseball bat in his first encounter with the gang members. The gang member flips it open in a threatening display, but can't complete the simple opening smoothly.
  • Kick-Ass: Hitgirl got two for her birthday.
  • Killer Elite
  • In Lethal Weapon 4, one of Wah Sing Ku's mooks wields a butterfly knife. Oddly, Jeff Imada plays the other mook.
  • The Mummy Trilogy
  • The Outsiders
  • In Payback, the Chow's Bodyguard, played by Jeff Imada, flips a butterfly knife and prepares to cut Porter before being interrupted by the corrupt cops.
  • Torque
  • Buckingham is playing with one when he is talking to captured D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers 2011.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Law and Order episode "Knock Off", Dianne Cary (guest Katee Sackhoff) has a butterfly knife sitting on a shelf open, next to a pair of nunchaku. She became obsessed with martial arts and self-defense after being raped.
  • In the Nikita episode "Pale Fire", a Gogol mook flips a butterfly knife open and slashes Alex, but she traps it and kills him with it.
    • This may become a Once a Season thing, since Jaden tried to kill Alex with one near the end of season one.
  • In the White Collar third mid-season finale "Countdown", Keller snacks on a mango while threatening Mozzie, cutting pieces off with a butterfly knife. It is locked open and not flipped, which would be difficult to do while coated in juice.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • During the kidnapping in Marilith, the title character draws a butterfly knife from the waistband of her skirt and flips it open between panels.

Marilith: "Oh, I got your hall pass... here in my pants!!"