Hong Kong Version
Comparison between the uncut international version of the British DVD by Hongkong Legends
and the Hong Kong version of the Hong Kong DVD by Universe
- 22 differences, thereof:
* 12 parts with additional material in the HK version: 403.5 sec. (= 6:44 min.) (runtime information converted to PAL)
* 10 parts with additional material in the international version: 675.3 sec (= 11:15 min.)
Anyone who's interested in the Hong Kong cinema of the 80's probably should know Millionaires' Express
. More or less like a certain Mr. Stallone has just done it with US action stars, Sammo Hung
in 1986 gathered almost all the known faces of the Hong Kong cinema of that time (including "guest workers" like Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Hwang Jang Lee or Yukari Ôshima) for this wild action comedy film. The story about a train full of millionaires, for which several groups with bad intentions are fighting, offers the viewer a lot of funny absurdities in the first two thirds and at the end an exemplary choreographed fight. Apart from the encounter of Sammo and Cynthia, Yuen Biao should also be mentioned because he delivers some of his best artistic scenes.
Overview of the Versions
An overview of the different versions follows.
1. Hong Kong
Runtime: 96:34 min. (NTSC)
The original movie version with the title Millionaire's Express, which is at several points slightly longer and exclusively contains a few further complete scenes. But it also lacks several longer scenes which are contained in the international version. So in total the movie is a little bit shorter in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong releases on laserdisc, VHS and the old DVD by Universe (the latter illustrated on the left) contain this version.
Generally, ONE alternative version was produced for the non-Asian market, see "a)". In Europe they obviously thought they could come up with something better, so the movie received some further cuts.
At this point already separately pointed out: exactly this international version is contained on the new Hong Kong DVD by JoySales, so it can't be said generally that one gets the HK version when purchasing an Asian release.
a) The Uncut International Version
Runtime: ca. 97 min. (PAL) / ca. 101 min. (NTSC)
As already mentioned above, some parts from the original Hong Kong version are missing in this version. But on the other hand there is quite some additional material, resulting in a longer runtime for this version.
Contained on the British DVD by HKL (cover on the left) as Millionaire's Express, on the US DVD by Dragon Dynasty as Shanghai Express, on the new DVD from Hong Kong by Fortune Star as The Millionaire's Express, on the German DVD by Eyecatcher as Shanghai Police and on the French DVD by Metropolitan as Shanghaï Express.
b) The German Version
Runtime: ca. 82 min. (PAL)
Based on the uncut international version, roughly about 15 minutes of plot scenes were removed to speed the movie up a little bit. The action scenes stayed in the movie.
Contained on the tapes by Bild and Starlight (cover on the left) and also as bonus material on the DVD by Eyecatcher, as Shanghai Police - Die wüsteste Truppe der Welt.
c) The French/Spanish Version
Runtime: ca. 89 min. (PAL)
Based on the uncut international version, about 8.5 minutes of plot scenes were removed (independent from the changes of the German version).
Contained in France, among others, on the DVD by Metropolitan (cover on the left) as Shanghaï Express and in Spain, among others, on the DVD by Universal as El tren de los millonarios.
The International Version and the HK Version
In the international version were used a lot of additional scenes, which can all be labeled as plot and/or comedy scenes. Especially pointed out can be the scene with Cynthia Rothrock and co, for example, in which there's a little bit of fighting going on and the conflict between the western characters and the Asians is of some importance.
At the beginning of the HK version, a longer additional scene is shown which explains the character of Sammo Hung and his relationships to women much better, quite useful for the general understanding. Moreover, there are some new short fight inserts and some shots during the argument between Sammo and Cynthia are a little bit longer.
It's hard to say which version should be preferred; both of them have their advantages. The HK version of course is pretty interesting because of the longer action scenes at the end and the second introductory scene for Sammo's character. But in return, there are missing some nice comedy scenes from the international version, even if some parts are a little bit too stretched out.
Fans of the movie should in the end maybe get both versions. While the international version in several release countries is almost completely OOP (the French release being the cheapest, but without English audio track or subtitles), it is even worse with the HK version, long ago released for the last time. A great pity that this classic of HK cinema is nowadays comparatively hard to get!
About the structure of the report needs to be said that it has been split up for the additional material of the two versions. For the exclusive scenes of the HK version are much more interesting for the common reader (because the international version, as the name and the overview above already tell, is way more popular), this section was put at the beginning. Alternatively, here are the shortcuts:
Additional Material in the Hong Kong Version
Additional Material in the International Version
The runtime indications are as follows:
International Version in PAL / Hong Kong Version in NTSC
Thanks go out to Mr. White, who could offer some help with the comparison material!
Additional Material in the Hong Kong Version
12:44 / 09:41-14:53
Immediately after the meeting of the gangsters, there's an additional scene with Fong-Tin Ching (Sammo Hung) and his girls.
An association against prostitution comes to the brothel or rather an employee announces this whereupon Chi (Rosamund Kwan) gathers all the girls. One of them is still busy with a client and they briefly discuss that. Now, a man comes wildly running on the stairs and he confronts the protesters, Fong-Tin holds him back. The man says that the "big sister" is a mother and that she already brought up 10 children. He, being the most misbehaving one, is the only one who's not in the army. For the story doesn't sound too convincing, Fong-Tin begins to speak. Step-by-step, he can convince the crowd that men are in any case responsible for adultery. If it weren't for the prostitutes, men would take out their brutish behavior on their wives. Moreover he tells them that his own mother is a prostitute and that he's the thinnest of the ten sons. His speech becomes more dramatic and he talks about the dignity of all women, whereupon the protest association finally lets Fong-Tin and his prostitutes go while they are singing. The leader also says that they should turn against the men now.
84:27 / 81:00-81:18
One of the policemen overeagerly climbs a ladder up to the roof where the colleagues are busy spying on the gangsters. Tsao Cheuk Kin (Yuen Biao) advises him to behave more quietly, so he sneaks on cautiously but then he breaks through a rotten plank with a loud bang.
86:23 / 83:18-83:59
The gangster with the cigarette (Corey Yuen) staggers around longer and then finds a new enemy in Loi Fook (Kenny Bee). After waving about with an axe, the fight moves to the outside where the gangster lights another cigarette. In a turbulent moment, Loi Fook presses the cigarette into his mouth and thus gains the upper hand.
88:32 / 86:14-86:45
Before the girls run away from the gangsters, as in the international version, only the HK version shows how this confrontation of the two parties starts. The girls hide behind wooden doors (showers?) when some of the gangsters arrive. The stop in front and the girls uniformly open the doors which knocks the gangsters down. This is repeated with another guy, the girls run angrily after him. He confusedly passes the gang of Jook Bo (Eric Tsang) and joins some other gangsters standing behind them.
88:52 / 87:06-87:09
A girl gets pulled up at the end of the scene; the leader of the gangsters shouts a battle cry.
91:10 / 89:33-89:34
Jenny is shown on the floor a moment earlier.
91:12 / 89:37-89:38
The following shot begins a little bit earlier too.
91:24 / 89:50-89:52
Fong-Tin convulses on the floor earlier too, before he stands up.
91:35 / 90:03-90:07
Now, longer for one shot, Fong-Tin holds his hurting cheek.
91:39 / 90:12-90:17
There's a tracking shot which shows the opponents in the HK version. In the international version, this middle part of the shot was removed and the film continues with Jenny's attack.
91:50 / 90:28
Fong-Tin slightly earlier. In contrast to the previous differences this is possibly just a master error.
92:05 / 90:44-90:45
While the international version just shows the fall respectively the consequence of the kick, Yukio Fushiki (Hwang Jang Lee) is shown jumping in a sidewards shot and so the kick itself can be seen in the HK version.
The "Star TV" credit is just shown at the end of the HK version
(Not considered in the total length/amount cut indication)
Additional Material in the International Version
00:00-01:10 / 00:00-00:41
The HK DVD shows the logos Golden Harvest and Bo Ho Films Limited at the beginning, on the DVDs of the international version it's little bit different:
- on the British DVD, there's shown Fortune Star logo before(+ 31.1 sec.), then those two from the HK version are shown.
- on the German DVD, there are no logos at all at the beginning (- 39 sec. of the HK version), it immediately starts with the scene in the snow.
- on the French DVD, there's the logo of Metropolitan (+ 11.5 sec.), then those two from the HK version are shown.
The British DVD was used for this comparison, so:
British DVD 31.1 sec. longer
01:56-02:32 / 01:29
Fong-Tin tramps sadly through the deep snow towards the presumed corpses. He turns a man over and picks up a necklace.
03:14-03:40 / 02:13
Fong-Tin gives the gun back to the Russian, then he's being asked for his name and origin. He tries to talk his way out of it; thereupon the other men just accuse him of having stolen their stuff.
05:53-06:52 / 04:32
Loi Fook goes over to Fong-Tin, who's freezing and he begs for something to warm him up. After some talking, Loi hands him a cup with allegedly hot coffee...which is of course already frozen, so a piece of ice falls out of the cup.
06:54-06:59 / 04:35
Two further shots of Fong-Tin sucking on the piece of frozen coffee and of Loi cutting some meat.
10:41-11:32 / 08:26
The meeting of Yun Shiyu (James Tien) and his men begins notably earlier in the international version.
One of the gangsters says to brother Yen that they surely haven't come there just to watch Shiyu play with his model railway. Thereupon Shiyu walks around talking about the loyalty of Yen's men, but they don't quite understand that and still are rather anxious. The HK version continues again as he's describing the robbery.
12:44-12:58 / 14:53
At this point, there was missing in the international version the scene block with the association against prostitution, so for a better connection to the following scene with Fong-Tin and Siu-Hon in the garden, they've put in some short exclusive material. Fong-Tin tells from a village 350 miles westwards where, he supposes, their life would be better. He wants the girls to follow him.
25:29-26:15 / 27:56
After Han (Richard Ng) has talked to his lover, a thief steals some fruits from her.
Then, Han brings some plums for his wife, who's not happy about that. Han takes this opportunity to get back to his lover to get some other fruits and while doing that he gives her her ticket. His wife joins and pulls him back to their train compartment.
29:16-30:07 / 31:15
Tsao talks with his men about the situation. One of them has to do the night watch and he's not happy about that because of the usual dullness of this job.
34:45-35:09 / 36:05
Chi sees that Tsao approaches and he tries to hit on her: she prances around in front of him and falls theatrically on the floor. But Tsao himself doesn't help her up, he just tells two of his companions to do that instead. He walks on and Chi gestures angrily.
35:40-41:54 / 36:38
After his helper has left, Tsao says that Fong-Tin is probably up to something. Two long additional scenes follow:
1. Tsao goes to the "beauty salon" to question Chi, in the meantime Fong enters and Tsao, hidden behind a door, gets to know a little part of his plan. After that, Chi tries again to get some attention from Tsao, but she's being turned down.
2. An introductory scene for Jenny, the bandit (Cynthia Rothrock), and her gang together with an allied group of Chinese men, with whom they obviously have some problems.
The prostitutes talk to each other when Tsao enters, they welcome him exuberantly. Tsao asks why the girls have chosen to come to this poor town. They answer him that they want to extend their knowledge and that these are other times. Basically, they are just striving for a family life. When he's set to leave, Fong-Tin enters and tells the girls to get ready for the big clients and to put on more makeup. Tsao and Fong-Tin have a brief discussion and when Tsao has left, Fong-Tin tells Chi (Rosamund Kwan) to distract Tsao. So she follows Tsao and extensively tells him something about a romantic dream. He listens, but then cuts her off coldly and leaves. Chi runs after him whereupon he kisses her wildly and says that he'll watch her closer from now on. She wants another kiss, which he didn't expect - so because she closes her eyes, he quickly sends to of his men to fulfill her wish.
After a shot of the passing train (the almost equal, or maybe even absolutely equal, apart from a few frames at the beginning and at the end), the scene starts. An Asian man looks into Jenny's (Cynthia Rothrock) tent and immediately gets a bucket of water in the face. He moans and thereupon gets kicked to the floor by her. Before he can fight back, Richard Norton (no character name in the credits or in dialogues) intervenes and both make some disparaging remarks about the Chinese. They heard that and so they want to attack together, whereupon Dick Wei (also no character name) begins to speak for the bandits. Finally he hits Norton once as punishment for the insult and both sides are calm again.
in total 374.2 sec