Compared are the shortened US Version (US-DVD by Buena Vista) and the uncut Original Version (UK-DVD by Hongkong Legends)
113 differences, including
* 5 recuts
* 2x a different a number of fps (frames per second)
* 2x additional footage US Version (text boxes)
Difference (including credits / logos): 243 sec (= 4:03 min)
=> Removed footage: 379 sec (= 6:19 min)
=> Additional Footage US Version (text boxes; no credits / logos): 55 sec
A few more framecuts with less than 5 frames (0.2 seconds) haven't been considered.
With Iron Monkey, Yuen Woo-Ping made a classic in 1993. Besides Red Force, this is THE movie Donnie Yen kicked his way in the heart of any Eastern fan - many many years before Ip Man. Even Quentin Tarantino recognized the potential and he didn't have any problem at all with putting his name on the cover for the US re-release in order to satisfy Miramax. The movie itself got raped though (as often with Miramax):
The beautiful original score has been removed and replaced by a new one which is pretty similar to Tiger & Dragon, a movie that had just been released before this release was made. The most important difference is the now missing Wong Fei-Hung Theme.
The sounds effects of the fight appear to be a little more "realistic" now resp. not any single hit is accompanied by the noise that's common for HK cinema when someone gets punched, kicked or whatever. This way, a few sounds of broken bones or someone getting sliced and diced get lost. As a result, the movie appears to be more harmless now.
A new English audio track was made. Unfortunately, it often simplifies its content and reduces any political background to a minimum.
The opening and end credits have been completely replaced. Not least because one could add the infamous "Tarantino presents" seal right at the beginning.
Last but not least: many cuts were made as well which brings us to the actual comparison.
Besides the occasional just mentioned differences only highlighted when there's a remarkable difference, the US Version contains more than 100 cuts.
Most interesting difference are the censored action scenes I guess. The final fight and further brutal action scenes now and then have been cut out in order to get the PG-13.
Moreover, there are many little cuts regarding plot or comedy scenes because one had thought it would be too much for a Western audience. Business as usual so to speak. This affects some shorter scenes during a fight sequence as well. Most of the time, we're talking about rather pointless frame cuts which have obviously been made to spice up the fights. Sometimes it works and is no bother at all. Most of the time, it's simply redundant though. Either way, one wasn't satisfied with the HK cut so improvements for the worse were made.
It's basically the same for other, sometimes rather curious alterations. Little recuts within a scene were made in order to give the scenes a better / an improved logic (e.g. now, a Donnie Yen reaction shot follows right after an odd shot of a monkey while it's the other way around in the Original Version). Furthermore, two scenes run with a different amount of frames per second now. The intention was removing the slow and fast motion scenes which were used as stylistic device here. This doesn't concern any fight scene though - as one can read on a few sites. One way or another, it doesn't ruin the atmosphere but it's completely superfluous.
Finally, the two additional text boxes of the US Version should be mentioned. They're supposed to make it easier to get into the story. They're also supposed to improve the ending / to make it easier to understand. Another alteration to make the movie more mainstream.
All in all, this version ought to be avoided. Unfortunately, this is the only version that has a real HD master while the Original Version is just a stupid upscale. In this context, I'm dying to get my hands on the upcoming German HD release by Splendid on September 27th 2013. According to the cover, it will be the uncut version (which would be a first for Germany and basically a good thing) but it wouldn't be the first upscale this label releases so I guess we'll see.
Running time refers to
US Version in NTSC / Original Version in PAL
Credits / Alternate / Additional Footage US Version
00:00-01:22 / 00:00-01:44
Not only the logos are entirely different but also the followong opening credits. Only the US Version contains introductory facts on drawn backgrounds.
The first "real" shots are different as well. It begins with additional text - the shot itself remains unchanged - followed by two missing further shots in the US Version. Last but not least, the shot of the statue is different.
Original Version 25.8 sec longer
01:27 / 01:50-01:53
A few short shots of Iron Monkey sneaking atound on the rooftops are missing. The last one looks like from a comic. My guess, that's the reason why the US editor didn't like it.
03:34 / 03:54
The shot of the head of security begins a couple of frames earlier.
03:57 / 04:17-04:19
Extended shot of the guards wandering around. Suddenly, Iron Monkey shows up - he was part of the crowd.
04:21-04:23 / 04:42-04:44
In the Original Version, Iron Monkey poses in an additional shot. The very same shot is 1 second later in the US Version. It intercuts the shot of the monks.
04:29 / 04:50-04:51
Slightly extended shot after the monk, on whose head Iron Monkey has just "landed", put down his spear.
04:32 / 04:54
The shot begins slightly earlier when the next monk gets his head kicked.
04:52 / 05:13
To make it look more dynamic, the previous were lacking a few frames here and there (< 0,2 sec). This time, a little more is missing - right before two monks get thrown through the door.
05:30 / 05:51
After he got hit by Iron Monkey, one of the gurards gets tossed back a little longer.
06:41 / 06:59-07:00
When Iron Monkey jumps on the rooftop with the things he stole, the Original Version also contains a closer shot.
12:21 / 12:26-12:33
Close-up of the sign (according to the subtitles "Pa Cho Hall"). The following shot starts distinctly earlier as well.
12:46 / 12:58-12:59
Additional shot of Miss Orchid with the papers.
12:48 / 13:01
A shot of Yang (Iron Monkey) begins slightly earlier.
16:05 / 16:10-16:15
Further villagers remove a sign with the word "Monkey" on it. Their action makes them look suspicious, they're being led away by some goon.
Please note: shortly afterwards, Wong Fei-hung has his first scene with his dad Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen). The theme should be recognizable for anyone who likes Asian cinema because it's the theme song of the Once Upon A Time in China series. The US Version doesn't contain any score or soundtrack at all.
18:35 / 18:39-18:40
When Kei-Ying removes his umbrella from the log, a few trivial frames have been removed.
18:50 / 18:55-18:58
After Kei-Ying was led off, the Original Version also contains a short of the hiding kids.
19:14-19:19 / 19:21-19:26
The order of two shots has been changed again. The Original Version starts Kei-Ying and his son, followed by the monkey walking around on his hands. In the US Version, it's the other way around.
21:27 / 21:28-21:29
Slighty extended shot of the guards in the mist.
21:29 / 21:31-21:32
An additional shot shows a guard being hit by Iron Monkey's balls.
21:31 / 21:34-21:35
The shot is longer and more balls hit their target.
21:41 / 21:45
When Iron Monkey throws the thworing stars on the ground, several shots are shortened by a few frames, probably without any censoring background.
21:56 / 22:00-22:01
Kei-Ying and Iron Monkey are jumping over the backs of the guards in an additional shot.
22:06 / 22:10-22:11
The chain is being wrapped around Iron Monkey's arm in a short close-up.
22:08 / 22:14-22:15
Two short shots were removed in the middle of the fight.
22:10 / 22:17
Der Anfang der Aufnahme wurde entfernt bzw in der ungekürzten Fassung dauert es ein paar Frames longer, bis Iron Monkey seinen Arm aus den Ketten befreit hat.
22:21 / 22:28-22:29
The shot is a bit longer and the throwing star is getting pulled out of the foot.
23:02 / 23:07-23:08
Wong Fei-Hung insignificantly longer.
26:08 / 26:07-26:08
Kei-Ying is sitting a bit longer in front of the gate.
26:13 / 26:13-26:14
The dirty breadroll is a bit longer on the ground.
30:22 / 30:13-30:29
Miss Orchid follows Kei-Ying and gives him a bag with breadrolls in case he gets hungry again.
32:14 / 32:16-32:19
Fei-Hung with the umbrella in his hand a bit longer, then there is a soft fadeover to Kei-Ying on the roof.
33:07 / 33:10-33:36
The dialog before this cut has to be taken into considerations: In the US Version, Fox says that he is looking after Fei-Hung whereas he says that Kei-Ying was his hero in the Original Version.
Old English Synchronication: "You are one of my heroes"
Subtitles for the Original Audio Version: "A hero should be respected" übersetzt
Kei-Ying responds in the synchroniced version that he does not feel like a hero whereas he says tat even thieves are seeing as heroes these days in the subtitles for the original version. Afterwards Fox goes on to say that life is like the hot water in the soup in front of them. In the old English version he talks about the ingredients of the soup, in the original version the fire that heats the water is the main point of his argument. Key-Ying then asks himself when they will finally get good administrators.
The pot falls down and they get startled.
33:58 / 34:25
Two shots were shortened after Kei-Ying deflected the punch by one of the Iron Monkey copycats.
33:58 / 34:26
The first very short shot of Kei-Ying's fist hitting the bag is missing.
34:59 / 35:25-35:26
The monk who has just been kicked by Kei-Ying looks down on his top stained with footprints and then dramatically holds his head.
36:27 / 36:50-36:51
An insignificantly extended scene transition.
37:06-37:07 / 37:29-37:30
When Yang turns around to Fei-Hung, it can be seen in slow motion in the uncut version.
Uncut Version 0,5 sec longer
37:24 / 37:46-37:50
The tracking shot to Miss Orchid starts earlier...
37:28 / 37:54-38:07
...and is longer as well. Miss Orchid says (according to the subtitles of the original version): "A face of weariness. It's difficult to predict my fate.").
The first shot of the flashback is missing as well.
The identical rest of the flashback has been overlaid with a color filter and is blue in the US version.
39:02 / 39:37-39:41
The gate significantly earlier.
39:51 / 40:28-40:29
The shot starts a bit earlier, the woman spits some water on the bird cage.
44:48 bzw 44:56-44:59 / 45:14-45:17 bzw 45:24
Fox is hurrying the guards around in an additional shot. The US version shows this a bit later during the chat between Yang and the Governor.
No difference in running time
44:59 / 45:24-46:01
However, this chat is actually a bit longer originally as well.
- Yang: "As an officer you've observed four righteous rules and four witty rules. The four righteous rules are to repay for merits, to flatter, to liase and to ally. Anyone who is skilled in applying these rules will be prosperous."
- Governor: "And the four witty rules?"
- Yang: "To create discord, to reprobate, to frame and to set others up."
- Governor: "How wise you are. You have my greatest respect."
- Yang: "You've already learnt how to flatter."
- Governor: "I didn't mean to."
46:09 / 47:08-47:42
Wong Fei-Hung performs one of his Kung Fu exercises along with his theme song on the market square.
46:39 / 48:11
Fei-Hung running away insignificantly earlier.
49:35 / 51:01-51:02
Fei-Hung goes away with Miss Orchid a bit longer.
Alternative Footage / Recut
54:18-54:20 / 55:32-55:36
The shot of a sign with Chinese letters is missing again, the subtitles state that it says "The Government House of Chekiang".
The US features a shot of the moon for the transition instead (the same shot can be seen later in the Original Version as well).
Uncut Version 1,2 sec longer
54:33 / 55:49-55:51
The governor can be seen whimpering a little longer. He complains about not having his women any more and adds "I'd love to be a monk like you."
54:53 / 56:10-56:12
At this moment the Original Version shows the shot of the moon as the beginning of a tracking shot.
55:39 / 56:56-56:57
Before the fire bowl that was deflected by Iron Monkey flies back the bad guys can be seen again.
56:58 / 58:13
The attacker can be seen insignificantly longer.
57:18 / 58:32
When Iron Monkey says goodbye and jumps up, a speed effect was applied in the Original Version only.
US-Fassung 0,4 sec longer
58:07 / 59:19-59:20
A few frames are missing before Iron Monkey touches Kei-Ying's alarm wire.
58:09 / 59:22-59:24
There is a tracking shot from the bells to Kei-Ying after a few more frames were removed during the ringing of the bells.
61:55 / 63:01
Fei-Hung a bit earlier before jumping in order to keep his father from attacking Iron Monkey.
62:01 / 63:07-63:08
Fei-Hung grabs Kei-Ying's legs.
62:59 / 64:03-64:12
Hin-Hung is writings some letters and comments on them.
63:13-63:16 / 64:26
The second cut to Hin-Hung from the last cut can be seen here.
+ 2,3 sec
63:37 / 64:47-64:52
Kei-Ying slumps down in an additional shot. The following shot of Hin-Hung starts earlier as well.
When Iron Monkey mentions his father during the following chat, his words are a bit different. According to the subtitles of the original version he says that his father was killed by his colleagues when he found out they were stealing food. In the US Version he says that his father had told the governor about the corruption and that the governor had already known about it so Yang's father did not come home again.
64:44 / 65:56-65:58
Miss Orchid goes to the door.
65:57 / 67:07-67:15
Fei-Hung says that he wants to know if something happens to his father and Yang agrees.
66:31 / 67:48-67:50
At the end of the shot, Kei-Ying starts crying a little.
66:35 / 67:54-67:59
Kei-Ying rubs the tears from his face.
68:15 / 69:34-69:35
The monk can be seen a bit earlier when Miss Orchid slits his throat open.
68:16 / 69:36
Miss Orchid ist im Anschluss bei der noch gleichen Einstellung auch etwas longer in Pose zu sehen.
68:37 / 69:56
A few frames are missing before Miss Orchid gets kicked against her head.
68:52 / 70:11-70:25
Here a censoring background is quite probable. Miss Orchid is slapped several times and a guy stands on her shoulders to make her incapable ofr movement. One of the monks strokes her cheeks and admires her skin: in the synchronized British Version he says "I can't wait to touch it all over!", the subtitles for the original version read "See how nervous she is. She must be very anxious."
68:54 / 70:27-70:28
The monks can be seen again: they put on their best rape face and then grab at the camera.
68:58 / 70:32
The monks are holding their heads longer.
69:00 / 70:34-70:36
Fei-Hung poses some longer, then the following shot of the monks starts a bit earlier.
70:26 / 71:58
A few frames are missing in the middle of the fight.
71:15-71:17 / 72:45-73:23
The US Version fades to black after Fei-Kung Ho has left and then fades to Miss Orchid arriving.
Originally, however, there is no fading and Iron Monkey is being congratulated for his heroism. A woman brings some food and the two guests of honor say that they want to share it with the refugees, which they then do.
Uncut Version 35,2 sec longer
71:40 / 73:45-73:50
The shot of Fei-Hung getting whipped starts earlier. The following track shot to Hin-Hung begins earlier, too. Fei-Hung is on the left at first. That's how he gets hit one more time.
72:31 / 74:39-74:41
The profile shot is longer. One can also see the monk's sword coming dangerously close. The actual hit is being shown at closer range as well but he fights back. He chops off the monk's head - then the US Version is back in the game.
73:00 / 75:08-75:09
Kei-Ying longer in action.
73:00 / 75:09-75:10
After the shot of Hin-hung spitting out a pip, the beginning of the following shot is missing: Kei-Ying drags the guy to the right side. The versions are back in sync with the last shaky frames.
73:07 / 75:17-75:20
The throwing stars of Kei-Ying (dressed up as Iron Monkey) hit several guards. For continuity reasons, the following shot - he keeps throwing ninja stars - is also missing.
73:08 / 75:21-75:22
The ending of the subsequent shot is missing: several guards arrive, they get hit in the fae ce with throwing stars.
73:20 / 75:34-75:36
Close-up of blood leaking out of Fei-Hung's mouth after he got kicked in the stomach.
73:30 / 75:45-75:46
73:34 / 75:50
Miss Orchid's stealth attack lacks a few frames.
73:38 / 75:54-75:55
Same when Hin-Hung wants to punch Fei-Hung and gets stopped by Fox.
73:53 / 76:09
A further redundant cut.
74:18 / 76:33-76:34
When Hin-Hung pushes the piece of cloth in Iron Monkey's direction, a cut to Iron Monkey has been removed here.
74:34 / 76:50-76:51
Iron Monkey longer.
74:39 / 76:56-76:58
Additional shot of Iron Monkey avoiding getting hit by the piece of cloth.
74:52 / 77:10-77:12
Extended shot the "witch". She lowers the sword so that the ball in his eye becomes visible.
74:57 / 77:17-77:19
The Original Version cuts to the witch, the US Version doesn't. She's spitting blood after she got hit with the stick.
74:59 / 77:21
A few more missing frames when the witch is falling through the wall.
76:45 / 79:02-79:03
Shortened transition when the lantern hits the ground.
77:11 / 79:28
Ditto when Hin-hung lands on the logs.
77:36 / 79:52-80:00
Hin-hung kicks a log under Iron Monkey's and Kei-Ying's feet but they manage to push each other up again.
77:55 / 80:18-80:19
Additional shot of Hin-hung drawing back.
78:04 / 80:28-80:29
Additional shot of Hin-hung landing on a log.
78:07 / 80:33
Slightly shortened transition.
78:16 / 80:42-80:43
78:18 / 80:45-80:47
Hin-hung rises up against them and attacks their legs.
78:19-78:21 / 80:48-80:50
Now the US Version continues with the shot of our two heroes looking up before Hin-Hung "flips in".
In the Original Version, this shot comes right after Hin-Hung's entrance.
78:26 / 80:54-80:55
Another shortened transition.
78:36 / 81:05-81:07
Hin-hung keeps attacking with the wooden staff, Kei-Ying blocks him.
78:43 / 81:14-81:15
Extended shot of Kei-Ying.
79:09 / 81:39-81:40
More footage of them fighting in the fire.
79:13 / 81:45-81:46
Additional shot of Hin-hung spitting blood.
79:25 / 81:58-82:04
Kei-Ying looks around, Hin-hung keeps chopping off logs.
79:43 / 82:20-82:21
Additional shot of Hin-hung.
79:58 / 82:36-82:38
Further shot of the juggling act on the log.
80:24 / 83:03-83:09
Iron Monkey drops a log on Hin-hung's head.
80:36 / 83:21-83:23
One more shot of Hin-hung barging in the flames.
80:37 / 83:24-83:27
And one more. Now, he's going down.
81:01 / 83:50-83:53
Fox longer. He's disappointed that, contrary to the others, he doesn't have anyone to hug. His exact words are: "Why does nobody care about me?"
82:06 / 84:55-84:56
Fei-Hung slightly longer.
Additional Footage US Version
82:16-82:40 / 85:04-85:06
The black screen starts 2 seconds earlier in the US Version. Then two text boxes with further "important" character information.
US Version 22 sec longer
82:40-85:55 / 85:06-86:30
Subsequently, the actual end credits (distinctly longer in the US Version).
US Version 103 sec longer
Last but not least, a small comparison of the images. The UK-DVD (Original Version) isn't bad per se but the images simply look better plus the colors look way more natural.