General Pang Qing Yun is the only survivor of an army being beaten by the Taiping Rebels. Lian, a woman who gave off heat to him at night and vanished into thin air the following morning, crosses his path on his way back. In the morning, he meets a group of bandits (one of them is Jiang Wu Yang) and joins them. Having arrived at the bandits' village, he meets Lian again. She's the wife of the leader Zhao Er Hu. After the village was being attacked by the army, Pang can persuade the bandits to join the imperial army. Before that, Qing Yun, Er Hu and Wu Yang swear a blood oath.
The movie was being announced as a remake of The Blood Brothers by Chang Cheh and is also based on the same story (The Assassination of Ma). It's no surprise that the movies only have the basics of the story in common because a classical eastern was never expected.
The Warlords is quite sinister and lives off the performances of leading actors Jet Li und Andy Lau. In opposite to that, Takeshi Kaneshiro as third blood brother and Xu Jing Lei are rather dull.
Due to the fact that an Asian 2-hour-production is hard to promote on the international market, Producer Andre Morgan decided to modify the movie.
Director Peter Chan Ho Sun wasn't amused about that, but he wasn't able to change Morgan's mind.
Compared to the Hong Kong Version, the new version contains almost 500 differences. Sounds like a disaster at first, but it sounds worse than it actually is. The new version is still watchable. It focuses more on the conflict between Pang Qing Yun and Zhao Er Hu.
Most of the modifications are smaller cuts or extensions of the beginning / ends of the scenes in both versions.
The most noticeable difference is the changed order of some scenes, e.g. the attack of the Taiping Rebels happens right after the meeting of Jiang Wu Yang and Pang Qing Yun in the Hong Kong Version, whereas it happens before the first appearance of the war council in the International Version. As a result of that, the reason for the attack is different (HK: groceries / IV: accession gift for the war council). The way Pang and Zhao Er Hu meet the first time is different as well. Also, you sooner become aware of Pang's motives, because the conviction of the rapists takes directly place after the battle of Shu in the International Version.
Furthermore there are smaller differences in the order of the scenes, different image details and aside the translated overlays, some new text has been added as well.
The usage of the color filter, which is supposed to make it look "filthier", has been reduced.
Compared are the German DVD (International Version) by NEW KSM and the HK Special Edition by Mega Star.
To make it clearer, the comparison has been split up. There are no screenshots for any small differences and the uncountable mini cuts are being presented in smaller letters.
The parts with the lovely frame could have been split up as well, but it didn't seem appropriate to me.
The time index refers to the International Version.
The text has been taken from the current subs, that's why there are tiny differences (e.g. Nanking – Nanjing).
Here an example for the different text-overlays:
Running time NEW KSM = 01:48:53 (01:46:10 credits excluded)
Running time Mega Star = 02:05:39 (02:02:15 credits excluded)
Used abbreviations in this comparison:
HKV = HK Version
IV = International Version
Finally two more things: the in Hong Kong released Director's Edition does not contain the Director' Cut. Moreover I can't promise that all differences have been found. Maybe a frame here or there is missing.
Please note that a very few comments have been retranslated from German into English. That's why a slight difference in the choice of words is possible. Thanks for understanding.
Different company logos at the beginning.
IV: 32.04 sec
HKV: 40.92 sec
The HKV starts with a text box, the IV with displaying two credits. Then a marquee, which content is being presented via voice over in the IV. Unfortunately the text has been shortened, e.g. the part about General Ho is entirely missing.
„China in the mid -19th century— the suffering of its people under the corrupt rule of the Qing dynasty set the stage for the Taiping Rebellion. During the chaos of the 14 years long civil war, 70 million people died in battle or from starvation…
The casualties equaled the recorded death toll from WWII.”
„By the year 1861, the Taiping rebels operating from their capital cities of Nanking and Suzhou had captured half of Imperial China. The corrupt and ineffective Imperial Ching Army was in full retreat on all fronts. Short of troops and desperate to protect Beijing and turn the tides, the Ching Minister of War Lord Di accepted any and all volunteers, bandits and beggars into the ragtag Ching Army. Among these soldiers of fortune, General Ho and his army were the most feared and hated.
In two decades, the civil war cost the lives of 50 million Chinese. Many legends of bravery were born, none greater than the tale of General Pang and his brothers of the Shan Army, men who changed the course of history.”
Missing spear thrust at the beginning. The IV starts with the second thrust.
Another missing shot of the same soldier thrusting.
A soldier positions his sword at an opponent's neck.
Earlier beginning of the pan shot of the battle field. Further credits are being displayed in the IV.
Earlier beginning of the shot of General Pang Qing Yun (Jet Li) watching over the battle field.
Extended shot of the General's front in the HKV, the following scene (shot of the battle field) starts earlier in the IV.
IV: 0.92 sec
HKV: 1.46 sec
Missing part of the row of the expelled.
Here the IV is longer for the first time. Lian consoles Pang plus a shot of the candle's flame. The HKV shows the defunct wick. After the version were synchronized for a short period, the length of the shot of Lian is different.
The next morning, the shots of the general’s fingers differ.
IV: 8.44 sec
HKV: 5.46 sec
A short moment after Pang sits up in the bed is missing.
General Pang is longer thoughtfully sitting on the bed in the IV.
IV: +2.52 sec
The IV shows victims of the conflicts after having left the shack.
IV: +4.12 sec
The general leaves the room.
The IV shows the mirages much clearly as the group around Jiang Wu Yang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) rides up. The sequence is shorter in total, though (the end is missing).
IV: 4.76 sec
HKV: 7.55 sec
Before Wu Yang gets off the horse, he can be viewed more thoroughly in the IV.
IV: +1.12 sec
Different views of the general.
Wu Yang takes longer to get up.
IV: +0.16 sec
During the subsequent brawl, there is alternate footage, again. The int. Version is a few frames longer in the beginning.
There are, again, different shots shown as Pang presses Wu Yang down to the ground.
Subsequently to the brawl of the two, the int. version shows directly the arrival at the village. The attack of the bandits on the Taiping rebels was put behind.
That way, the point at which Pan and Zhao Er Hu meet at first changes, too. Additionally, a question of Pang is missing.
Pang: „Where are we going?”
Wu Yang: „To rob..from the rebel army!”
Wu Yang spricht im Off: „He later told me he was outraged…that bandits like us dared steal from troops. What did we care? Famine is everywhere. We either robbed or died.”
Illustrated was here only the missing piece of the return home, which is missing in the IV.
The two versions run in sync again with the arrival in the village. The arrival itself is different.
Pang is shown a little earlier.
In return, he is shown longer in the int. version.
IV: +0.72 sec
Part of the arrival scenes from the HK-version were reimplemented here and Wu Yang tells that soon after they had arrived in the village, their brother Zhao Er Hu returned from a raid. Wu Yang thought that he would welcome his new friend, but that was wrong.
The HKV shows how food is being distributed to the village inhabitants.
Lian and Pang look differently at each other.
Slightly different footage as Lian, Zhao and Pang watch each other, again.
A man steps across the screen in front of Pang.
IV: +0.6 sec
Zhao looks longer at Lian,
The HKV switches earlier to Zhao and Lian, in return, there is more Pang in the IV.
IV: 0.36 sec
HKV: 0.33 sec
Alternative footage of Pang.
Zhao’s and Lian’s togetherness is longer in the HK version. The int. version contains slightly different material here in two spots.
In the int. version, Zhao’s and Pang’s first meeting takes place after Zhao and Lian had made love together. Before that, you see Wu Yang with the children for a short time.
Wu Yang asks the kids who their leader was – they point to a boy to the left and shout it was him. Wu Yang then says that he was supposed to distribute, then.
The meeting of Pang and Zhao takes place now.
Zhao says that Wu Yang had told him of Pang. He tells him that the man over there was something like a leader before, but now Zhao is. He continues that even though Wu Yang had invited Pang, he couldn’t stay because he was a thief and a soldier – he asks if that was right, at which Pang nods to shortly. Zhao then says that they might celebrate that day but the day after that Pang absolutely has to go.
cut length total IV: +45.04 sec
The switch takes place earlier in the int. version as Lian thinks back to the night with Pang while preparing dinner. The footage as the two talk differs slightly. The HK version contains more shots of the two, in return, the IV features an additional view of the moon.
Directly after that, the commemoration of the fallen ones is longer in the international version.
You see Zhao filling the little bowls while in the HKV, he already stands with bowl in his hand in front of the others. The point of time at which something was poured in for Pang was changed and the man who pours it in says, „Big Brother laid down the rule…to have seats and wine…for the brothers who died.”
After Lian met Wu Yang, the HKV contains an extended shot of her on the stairs. Moreover the moment when she catches sight of Pang is different.
Slightly extended shot of running Lian in the IV plus the shot at the shelter is trivially longer. As compensation, the HKV contains more footage of Pang.
IV: 1.88 sec
HKV: 1.67 sec
When Pang catches up to Lian, the HKV contains an extended shot of Pang while the IV starts earlier with the following scene.
IV: 1.52 sec
HKV: 1.58 sec
Intercuts to Pang during the following conversation in the IV (right before the end which rings in the soldier's march-in).
Extended shot of Pang leaving the shelter.
Extended shot of the attacking soldiers.
IV: +0.16 sec
Now a mirror-image of the flage of Kui's army and finally a slightly different order of the scenes.
Extended shot of the horseman in the alley.
The theft of the groceries has been turned around plus the HKV shows a soldiers snatching a goat.
A villager gets hit with a rifle butt before the old lady gets killed in the IV. That's why it seems as if the bandits stood their ground earlier while the death of the old lady causes their acting in the HKV.
After Pang squeezed Wu Yang against the wall, Zhao is being threatened with different guns in either of the versions.
Extended shot of Zhao looking in the leader's direction.
IV: +1.36 sec
IV: +1.76 sec
IV: +0.96 sec
Extended shot of the two at the end of the shot in the HKV.
Further wounded in the HKV.
After Yhao could be convinced and talked to the bandits, the IV shows Wu Zang's and Pang's faces earlier. Subsequently an extended shot of Lian in the HKV. As compensation the IV cuts earlier to the following shot of Yhao.
Extended shot of Zhao.
IV: +0.32 sec
Slight difference of the murder committed by the brotherhood. Before that, the following comment by Wy Yang is missing:
"I asked him that day, there’s no turning back, Are you certain? He said nothing."
Extended shot of the crumpling guy who got stabbed by Pang in the HKV. The IV contains two more frames of the beginning of the scene here.
IV: 0.08 sec
HKV: 0.42 sec
Extended shot of the three (Jiang Wu starts going immediately in the IV).
Extended shot of Pang while leaving the room in the HKV. The IV contains a longer shot of the following fire instead. Before the cut to the three knives, the HKV is longer as well.
IV: 5.2 sec
HKV: 5.38 sec
Extended shot of the three in the HKV, extended shot of the group in the IV. The following farewell is different, except the shot of Shi Jin Biao (Jacky Heung). The farewell is longer in the HKV (a man sayz bye to his son, a son to his mother and another woman brings her husband some shoes).
Here the attack of the Taiping Rebels has been reinsert. Due to the later point of time, the reason for the attack is different. It is about groceries in the HKV, but it is a accession gift for the war council in the IV.
Wu Yang says via voice over: "He told us: the best we could do to propiate the Ching-Minister would be to hand him over a gift. Und the perfect gift would be a victory over the Taiping."
The later point of time also changes Pang's involvement. He's the one woh gives the signal to start. Due to the fact that the battle have just been taken over, Pang seems to be very passive for a leader (until Wu Yang's rescue). The screens only show the departure and Pang with a mirror.
The HKV instead contains a shot of the bandits on their way to the war council.
IV: 291.12 sec
HKV: 22.06 sec
The horsemen can be seen longer.
Shortly before that, the IV again offers Wu Yang's voice from off-screen. He says that they were getting ready under command of him. They had new uniforms, weapons and a few even rifles. He says that they now were soldiers and had the feeling that Hu's decision to go with Pang was the right thing to do.
IV: +0.88 sec
The soldiers delight in their reflection and their new armaments a little longer.
IV: +0.96 sec
After the rejoicing soldiers you in the HK version see the conversation between Pang and Lord Chen's general Lu Da Shan (Zhou Bo). The first sentence can be heard during the end of the previous scene.
The international versionshows a few more frames of the soldiers.
IV: 0.4 sec
HKV: 28.7 sec
In the international version you see Pang walking through the camp a little longer. The HKV shows the soldier a little earlier.
IV: 1.72 sec
HKV: 0.63 sec
Before the soldier tells Pang that the rifles are useless, you in the IV see the soldiers testing the rifles. After that, Pang looks at the gun a little longer.
In the HKV, there is a cut to Wu Yang during Pang's speech. The IF shows some more scenes of the soldiers (at the beginning and the end).
The international version shows the soldiers a little longer before Wu Yang volunteers.
IV: +0.8 sec
IV: +0.68 sec
When Zhao Er Hu tries to motivate the soldiers by paying them more money, the IV cuts to the back view of him and Pang a little earlier. Subsequently, the versions differ in the scene where the soldier reports back.
Just as all soldiers are convinced and start to cheer, the IV only shows the soldiers while the HKV shows Wu Yang and the boy.
Andy Lau and Jet Li (in the HKV) and Takeshi Kaneshiro (in the IV) are shown for 2 additional frames.
IV: 0.08 sec
HKV: 0.08 sec
Prior to the battle you in the IV see the conversation between Pang and Lu Da Shan. The content of this conversation is identical to the HKV. The runtime is longer since the general is shown longer at the beginning and the end of the conversation.
IV: +33.44 sec
The IV shows some more material of the horsemen and the panning shot over the flags is different.
In the IV, the view through the telescope is also illustrated.
The enemy general looks through his telescope a little longer.
The panning shot over the soldiers is a little longer.
IV: +1.52 sec
IV: +0.84 sec
After they looked at each other, you don't see the messenger coming closer and an additional shot of the soldiers. The IV shows the previous image of the armys opposing each other a little longer.
IV: 0.28 sec
HKV: 4.88 sec
In the IV you now see Pang and the Messenger approaching on his horse.
HKV: You see Wu Yang longer.
IV: You see Pang earlier/longer.
IV: 0.52 sec
HKV: 0.54 sec
The messenger falls to the ground 2 frames earlier. Subsequently, the movie cuts to Wu Yang a little earlier.
In the IV, the Shan army troops storm forwards a little further. In the HKV you see the Taiping rebels drawing a bead on their opponents.
Now the rebels storm a little longer.
A missing shot of the hill and the soldiers approaching.
At this part they inserted a few running soldiers that can be seen later in the HKV (next cut, second image).
IV: +1.28 sec
The Shan Armee runs and the rebels draw a bead on them.
In the HKV you now see the soldiers on the hill again, while the IV shows the soldiers a little longer. In the IV you also see the shooters' commander.
IV: Additional soldiers running.
HKV: Wu Yang can be seen longer.
IV: 1.04 sec
HKV: 0.29 sec
The shooters' commander is shown earlier.
IV: +0.2 sec
The rifles give off clouds of smoke a little more and the next few scenes begin earlier.
After the first salvo there's a missing shot of Wu Yang running.
A soldier's fall is shown more detailed.
Again you see the Shan army running (with Wu Yang in front of them). The IV only shows a fragment of this sequence.
IV: 0.76 sec
HKV: 6.63 sec
During the next salvo of the rebels you in the IV again see running soldiers - the scene of the soldiers reloading was shortened.
Shortly before the Shan army finally arrives at the shooters, the order of the scenes is different.
After Pang's friendly indication of the fact that there's only one commander on the battlefield, you again don't see Wu Yang and his soldiers. A fragment of this scene is also included in the IV.
IV: 0.56 sec
HKV: 5.05 sec
The IV shows the bowmen's first victims directly after the arrows impinge on the soldiers. In the HKV, however, additional arrows are shot at the soldiers.
Again minor changes during the next few scenes and a shorter shot of the soldiers.
There are some more fighting scenes surrounding the scene where a sword gets stabbed in a soldier's shoulder. You don't see one of the bandits die (it's the one whose life was saved by Wu Yang just a moment ago).
In the IV Pang looks towards the Chen army's commander.
The soldier in front of Wu Yang is shown longer.
IV: +0.2 sec
The scene of one of the soldiers grieving about the death of the above-mentioned soldier was replaced with scenes of the Taiping leader. The latter watches the events on the battlefield with his telescope.
When Zhao finally intervenes, this (of course) does not happen without alterations.
The following scene of him riding on his horse was streamlined and altered in its order (shortly after the splicing of the eyes).
During the clash of the two groups of horsemen the IV includes only the first few falls of the horses (the first of them with an altered image section).
IV: 0.96 sec
HKV: 4.7 sec
Fragment of a fall of a horse; subsequently the IV shows 2 more frames of Zhao striking.
IV: 0.08 sec
HKV: 0.63 sec
The single horse fall in both versions offers a different image saction. Subsequently the IV shows the cannons being loaded. However, the order to fire the cannons was not included.
IV: The cannons are shown slightly earlier before they're shot.
HKV: The fuse burns longer.
IV: 0.68 sec
HKV: 1.04 sec
Different horses falling in both versions.
IV: 1.6 sec
HKV: 1.38 sec
A fall is shown earlier in the IV (follows in the next cut in the HKV).
IV: 1.28 sec
HKV: 0.04 sec
Alterations in the order of the cannon firing.
In the IV you see the cannons being reloaded while in the HKV you see additional falls and Pang and Lu Da Shan looking each other in the eye.
IV: The cannons give off more clouds of smoke.
HKV: The beginning of the next scene includes more frames.
IV: 0.16 sec
HKV: 0.13 sec