The remake of the Bruce Lee film "Fist of Fury" with the similar sounding name "Fist of Legend" shows Jet Li at his best in the excellently choreographed fighting scenes. This movie can definitely be recommended to any martial-arts-fan enjoying fighting scenes at a high pace.
As usual, almost every country released the international version (= HK theatrical version) of the movie. - Almost every, except one: This movie, too, was released in Taiwan before the final cut was complete. But unlike "Black Mask" the Taiwanese cut contains only additional or extended plot scenes.
A good comparison to "Black Mask", however, can be made when it comes to the quality of the Taiwan-DVD: the advantages of it are reduced to containing the uncut version. If you take a closer look the Taiwan-DVD of "Fist of Legend" is even worse.
For people who are interested in it and want to find out about aspect ratios and sound here is a little comparison between the Taiwan-DVD released by Ritek and the French Special Limited Edition released by Hong Kong Video:
Like "Black Mask" the image of the Taiwan-DVD is very poor. Especially the many dropouts are irritating and the colors are very pale, as well. But unlike the "Black Mask" DVD "Fist of Legend" also uses the wrong aspect ratio. Again, it is something close to 1:1.66 and of course not anamorphic. Easily put, the French SE offers a great image with rich colors and there are no irritating artifacts. Also, the DVD uses an anamorphic 1:1.85-ratio. If you play both DVDs at the same time you notice that the Taiwan-DVD lacks some information at the sides. - The conclusion of this is that "Fist of Legend" was shot in an aspect ratio of 1:1.85 which was not matted but is actually wider to the sides. So the Taiwan-DVD used Pan & Scan to zoom to a wrong aspect ratio.
The sound of the Ritek DVD is a catastrophe, too. Even though the movie was made in 1994 the DVD only contains a DD 2.0 Surround sound. But that is not even the worst: it is the soundtrack. The "original" soundtrack is just bad. - The old argument about "taste" cannot really help, here either. - Many sounds like crushing bones, hits or other effects have a sound that is not loud enough, not existing or just plain bad. For example the French DVD contains a lot of breaking sounds of bones and tables at the beginning. - The Ritek DVD, however, is very restrained.
The score takes away the last bit of seriousness from the fighting scenes and and puts them somewhere near a Chinese circus attraction. The 5.1-Track of the French DVD, however, uses its action packed music to create tension.
The subtitles are another annoyance: Again, they are hard to read, cannot be switched off, disappear too fast and sometimes (probably because of the wrong aspect ratio) they do not even fit into the screen.
The limited French Special Edition is far better in any aspect: The 2-DVD Set comes in a nice looking digipak with a butt strap for a little booklet and is great in any aspect. The only negative aspect besides the cut version are the missing English subtitles. But it does contain English sound (DD 5.1), but with French subtitles that cannot be switched off. The DVD also contains the original sound but with the forced French subtitles, as well.
But if you want to enjoy the movie you should still get a DVD containing the Theatrical version and use this report to look up the missing scenes.
6 cuts = 4 min. 17 sec. (257 Sec.) in the international version
1 cut = 2.5 sec. in the Taiwan version
Almost obligatory but still mentioned:
The opening credits are completely different. The logos at the beginning are different, too.
0.27.28 - (The general talking to his assistant)
The conversation begins earlier in the Taiwan version:
The general smashes the piece of paper into the free space on the floor between the men sitting in a circle. Very angrily he complains to his men about their poor performance. - Then he turns around to the Japanese diplomat (?). He asks him if the "Kokuryu Clan" has a good relationship to the Chinese. But the man answers that it is hard to have a good relationship to the Chinese, since the Japanese conquered Tsingtao and refused to give it back. The general angrily leans forward and explains that Tsingtao was conquered by the Germans but with Japanese blood and if the Chinese want it back they have to trade their own blood for it.
0.46.41 - (Chen Zhen leaves the Jingwu-school)
After he bid farewell by bowing several times squatting down the Taiwan-cut also shows Chen Zhen leaving:
Somebody gives him his suitcase and he and Mitsuko walk towards the gate. Mitsuko pauses, once again, and bows down. - Then she follows Chen Zhen.
0.51.19 - (The opium-scene)
Probably the most famous scene from the Taiwan-cut:
After the students of the Jingwu-school set off to search for their master Ting-En (In the Taiwan version he is called Tang Yan) the Taiwan-cut contains a scene change to the brothel where Ting-En is staying. The prostitute he fell in love with walks down a few stairs and gets approached by another woman. - The woman is obviously trying to stop her from looking in on Ting-En. When she finally managed to convince the woman to follow her into the room the woman suddenly leaves. She opens the door to Ting-En's room: Appalled, she has to see that he is smoking opium and gets his back massaged by another woman. She is offended and sits down on a stool. She makes it more than clear that it is over between her and Ting-En if he does not stop smoking opium. After Ting-En sent the other resisting woman out of the room he gets up and explains that he smokes opium because he is feeling bad. (aggrieved by the lost fight and so on) – At the end he says that he will stop it immediately if she does not appreciate it.
136 sec = 2 min. 16 sec.
0.58.33 (Taiwan-DVD time index!)
Here, a little something is missing in the Taiwan version:
When the cook is sitting in front of his dead master's shrine absorbed in self-doubt two shots are missing before the students enter the room. The first one shows the cook, the second one shows the shrine.
2.5 sec in the Taiwan version
0.59.31 - (Ting-En is depressed)
After Ting-En surprisingly got hit by a student during training the Taiwan version contains one more scene:
Ting-En is sitting in a chair and lonely looking around. His girlfriend enters the room bringing him tea. She asks him why he is still up so late but he responds by telling her to go to sleep first. She leaves the room a bit sad while Ting-En is still looking around, also being sad (accompanied by matching music).
1.11.22 - (Chess between Mitsuko's uncle and the Japanese diplomat)
After the big match between Chen Zhen and Mitsuko's uncle we fade to a game of chess between the latter and the Japanese diplomat. - Here, the international version lacks the beginning of the conversation during the game:
The diplomat asks if he (Mitsuko's uncle) has never wondered that his position in his clan could be "fatal". At first he does not know what the diplomat is talking about but then he understands pretty quickly. He says that there is nothing he has to apologize for. What he does is still better than being a pawn for the military.
In the Taiwan version we do not fade away as the car with Chen Zhen drives away. - We see it until it has left the frame and then we still see a bit of the life happening in the street. We cut directly to the runners, without transition.