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 movie only have the basics of the story in common because an eastern couldn't be expected.
The Warlords is quite sinister and lives from the two leading actors Jet Li und Andy Lau. In opposite to that, Takeshi Kaneshiro as third blood brother and Xu Jing Lei are colorless.
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 desaster 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 oder 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 for the first time is different as well. Another difference is the becoming 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 besides the translated text, 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 aren't screens for any small difference and the uncountable mini cuts are being presented in smaller letters.
The parts with the lovely edging could have been split up as well, but it didn't seem appropiate 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 texts:
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.
Pang notices Zhao, who fell from his horse, and gets his weapon passed in the IV. Before he interferes, the look to the General of the Chen army is longer as well. Of course the footage itself varies, too.
The image section of the horseman, who is riding straight to Zhao, is different. When Zhao runs to meet him, the IV contains a shot which shows his side, the HKV shows his front.
IV: 1.12 sec
HKV: 1.08 sec
Earlier beginning of the close-up of Zhao having the blade at the horseman's neck.
Extended shot of squeezing Zhao before fall off the horse.
Extended shot of the fallen.
After the horseman got killed by Zhao, the HKV contains an earlier shot of Pang and the men around him plus the shot of the Taiping General looking through the telescope is missing.
IV: 2.76 sec
HKV: 4.67 sec
Missing tumble of a horse.
Before the General of the Chen army says Pang risked his life to force him into the battle, the HKV contains an extended shot of Pang and his horsemen. The IV contains an extended shot of the General instead.
IV: 3.88 sec
HKV: 3.63 sec
Additional shot of the rebels turning the cannons.
IV: +2.2 sec
Different order of the scenes when the army is on his way to the cannons. Furthermore a tumble is missing, due to the bpmbardment. Moreover the loading of the cannons is different.
8 more frames blurred footage before walking Pang after he tumbled.
HKV: Extended shot of Pang passing the cannons sideways.
IV: Additional shot of Pang before he leaps on the cannon.
IV: 1.2 sec
HKV: 1.96 sec
5 more frames of the horseman passing by Zhao.
Additional shot of the cannons.
HKV: Extended shot of the cannon in the air.
IV: Earlier noticing of the cannon by the soldiers.
IV: 0.16 sec
HKV: 0.29 sec
The soldier who got hit spits more blood.
Extended shot of the cannon hitting the soldiers.
IV: +0.32 sec
Additional shot of Pang before the cannon gets sparkes off.
IV: +0.92 sec
IV: Pang storms forward.
HKV: Earlier beginning of the shot of the gunners.
IV: 0.28 sec
HKV: 0.79 sec
Short shot of the other firing cannons before the cannon repositioned by Pang gets fired.
Different shot of the flying cannons (due to the detonation) and Pang. A shot of the hostile commander watching the Chen army with a telescope in the IV. He doesn't even think of any interference, he just smiles viciously.
A soldier saves the General's life by sacrificing hisself when the General is on the ground.
IV: Wu Yang longer.
HKV: The horsemen earlier.
IV: 0.16 sec
HKV: 0.83 sec
Additional scenes with Zhao Er Hu fighting (from Pang's rescue).
IV: +1.56 sec
4 more frames of the walking soldiers.
IV: +0.16 sec
In the IV, Pang straightens hisself immediately when the soldiers run square to him.
Wu Yang starts running earlier.
In the HKV, Pang gets up after some fighting. Because he's already standing in the IV, we have the fight scene from the following cut here.
IV: 6.4 sec
HKV: 5 sec
Now the before-mentioned fight scene.
Wu Yang and Zhao dig their way on the battle field (between the shots of Pang with the spear in the should).
Wu Yang and the others in an extended fight scene.
IV: +0.96 sec
Extended shot of Wu Yang's hand at the remaining part of the spear in Pang's shoulder.
Extended shot of Zhao and Wu Yang heaving Pang on his feet.
IV: +0.16 sec
Pang looks at Zhao.
Extended shot of the the faces in the HKV during the short conversation (starting with Pang's nodding).
IV: 2.16 sec
HKV: 4.17 sec
Extended shot of Zhao in the HKV during the screaming. The IV cuts to Pang and Wu Yang earlier.
IV: 0.32 sec
HKV: 0.38 sec
More yelling in the HKV.
Deviations before Lu Da Shan becames aware of the possible victory over the rebels.
The IV contains a shot of Wu Yang and Pang attacking, the HKV the circling of the army.
The arrival of the Chen army is different as well.
Moreover the IV contains a shot of Wu Yang coming closer to the commander and the two others are searching him.
The rebels are being heckled after the shot of walking Wu Yang (extended shot of Qu in the IV).
IV: 0.44 sec
HKV: 6 sec
2 more frames of Wu Yang walking.
Before Wu Yang arrives at the commander (lying on the floor after throwing a knife) you in the HKV see Zhao's and Pang's search from cut 00:41:18. The IV shows him walking.
IV: 0.96 sec
HKV: 4.5 sec
2 additional frames of Wu Yang stabbing out.
While Wu Yang cuts off the rebel's general's head, there's a longer shot of his face.
After Wu Yang holds the head up, the next scene with Zhao begins a little earlier.
IV: +1.28 sec
At the end of the battle Wu Yang shows the head more often and the other two cheer some more.
After the end of the battle you in the international version see the conviction of the two rapists. In the HKV this happens during the two fights taken together.
The whole thing begins with a text of Wu Yang. He says that he on that day told them that they were no longer bandits but real soldiers. Wu Yang didn't really know what he meant by this, he was just proud of winning. But Wu Yang was soon to find out what these words meant.
At the end of that comment you see how the two rapists are lead out of the house. The following events are pretty much identical to those in the HKV (this is why there are only a frew pictures).
At the scene of the war council, the two versions are back in sync.
IV: +171 sec
Lord Chen (Wie Zong Wan) is shown longer.
IV: +0.32 sec
Different shots of Zhao at the beginning of the war council's conversation. Prior to that, Wu Yang is shown longer in the IV.
When asking about the division of their loot, Zhao makes another gesture.
IV: +1.56 sec
Zhao is shown longer and Lord Di (Wang Kui Rong) earlier.
Lord Di and Lord Chen go to their chairs.
The return to the village is longer in the IV. You get to see more soldiers and Lian sitting on the hill. While they're walking down the hill, you in the IV see shots of IV that are included in the next cut in the HKV.
Now follow the above-mentioned shots of Lian in the HKV. the IV shows them a little different.
The next scene (the women in front of the crate of silver) begins earlier in the HKV.
Some more cheering townsmen.
A young soldier grasps in the crate of silver.
In the HKV you can directly see that the man in the armor is Zhao and not Pang (Lian's disappointment is also quite obviously shown).
After the shot of Lian the HKV also shows Wu Yang bringing the message of Xiang Wu's and Xiao Qi's death to their mother.
On the way back the people get out of the way while he says:
„We were no longer bandits. He said a bandit kills for his own interests, but a hero sacrifices for others. I wanted to be a hero.”
IV: The side view of Lian starts earlier while Zhao puts off his armor. The cut to the next scene follows earlier as well.
HKV: The side view of Lian offers some more images at the end.
IV: 3.6 sec
HKV: 1.54 sec
Lian is standing behind Zhao a little earlier.
A different image section of Lian as soon as she learns that Pang spends the night in the old cabin outside the village.
Lian's walk to the cabin was completely cut out of the IV. In the IV she does think about Pang but spends the night at Zhao.
Now follows the beginning of her walk.
The IV shows the door slightly earlier before Pang enters.
IV: 0.32 sec
HKV: 6.51 sec
Pang is standing in the doorway a little longer.
IV: +1.6 sec
Lian runs to the door but then hesitates. She decides not to enter and turns away.
In the IV you interchangeably see Lian in the bed (next to Zhao) and Pang inside the cabin. Meanwhile you hear their voices.
Pang asks if the night is real. He says that he waitet for her and that he thought that it was all a dream. He says that she wanted to walk away. She replies that she ran off too often. She had so many goals but still returned every time. Pang then asks her why she came back.
Before Suzhou leaves, the material used is different during the end of the lords' conversation.
Before the camera pans to the city wall of Suzhou the HKV shows a chicken that jumps off a corpse, obviously unconcerned.
The next scene begins earlier in the IV.
IV: 0.6 sec
HKV: 13.76 sec
The panning shot over the field is longer and the corpse from the next scene is shown earlier.
Following to the above conversation, the IV contains some impressions of the soldiers (to a great extent from the cut before).
The HKV contains a peek at the govenor's pool, Huang Wen Jin (Guo Xiao Dong) and a conversation between the soldiers.
At the beginning, a dying soldier screams: "Butcher.... sing me a song."
Soldier: "I heard that there is a man named Jesus. Each day at noon, he gives the Taiping general Huang in Suzhou 5 loaves of bread and 2 fat pigs. He would then divide the food casually and somehow he feeds all 5000 people. Everyone is fed. Their bread never runs out and new piglets are being born every day."
One of the soldiers attempts to help his comrade, but he is being hold back by the others.
After the cpnversation between the three blood brothers and Pang's decision to ask Lord Di for help, he does so immediately in the HKV. The decision to ask Keui after Lord Di rejected to help follows at once.
Both scenes after a shwort while in the IV (the scene in front of the council is longer), instead a shot of the moon.
IV: 5.16 sec
HKV: 68.9 sec
Er Hu earlier in the ditch.
IV: +0.52 sec
After Zhao's decision to intrude the city, Pang's begging in the IV. It's identical with the HKV until both kneel down.
In the HKV, the servant's comment that the Master didn't know anout the fight for Suzhou finalizes the scenes in front of the council. Then the HKV cuts away to the horsemen.
The IV contains that statement as well, but he says it the following day. Subsequent to that, statements from Pang and Lord Di (coming out) are missing. Not until then the two ride off in the IV.
Pang: "Pray that I'm not gonna win."
Lord Di: "It doesn't matter how or when you gonna die. When this war is over, neither your Shan army nor Kuei's army's gonna be of use to for us. When time has come, your administration's gonna eliminate your armies. Now leave. It's better for you if you find death on the battle field."
The HKV contains a shot of the city walls and Huang looking out of the window instead.
IV: 122.22 sec
HKV: 16.39 sec
Extended shot of Pang's back.
IV: +0.36 sec
Extended shot of Pang and Wu Yang after Pang said the attack was planed for the following day.
Again an extended shot of Pang (before he recognizes Lian).
Different shots of Pang while watching Lian.
IV: More Pang, less Lian.
HKV: More Lian, less Pang.
IV: 0.44 sec
HKV: 0.42 sec
Differences when Wu Yang calls Lian. For the IV, the beginning of Wu Yang's and Lian's appearance has been changed and additional images have been added (Pang/Lian/Wu Yang).
The little chase between Lian und Pang across the ditch has been shortened.
Slightly more footage of walking Lian.
The moment when Pang catches Lian is more detailed in the HKV.
The IV ends the chase with the hugging and shows Huang's window earlier after the black screen.
In the HKV, Lian pushes Pang away before he makes her stand in front of a wall.
IV: 6.48 sec
HKV: 34.83 sec
Missing dancers in the background during Huang's conversation with Er Hu. Furthermore Huang's statement "My wife's grave is just outside the city in the woods. I long to see her.... but can't." is missing as well.
Extended shot of Huang.
IV: +1 sec
IV: +0.52 sec
The HKV contains the preparations to attack the Shan army after Shi Jin Biao put the blade at Er Hu's neck. The missing footage is going to be used later in the IV, but Pang's intention to get married is missing.
Pang to Lian: "If I survive, I will.... marry you."
The IV sticks with the conversation between Er Hu and Huang.
IV: 4 sec
HKV: 85.42 sec
Extended shot of the sword in Huang's body and the two also look earlier at each other.
IV: 1 more frame of Zhao and Huang.
HKV: Extended shot of Zhao pulling out the sword.
IV: 0.04 sec
HKV: 0.67 sec
The grieving soldiers have been removed in the IV, the close-up of Jin Biao is 2 frames longer.
IV: 0.08 sec
HKV: 3.8 sec
Extended shot of Zhao keeping dead Huang in suspense while lying in the pool.
IV: +4.84 sec
Now the removed preparations of the attack from the HKV after the shot of the city walls in the IV. Logically with minor differences again.
IV: 74.6 sec
HKV: 5.55 sec
Different shots of Zhao (when Wu Jang runs square to him).
IV: Pangs Gesicht longer.
HKV: Zhao and Wu Yang earlier.
IV: 0.48 sec
HKV: 0.71 sec
IV: The gates get closed.
HKV: Jin Biao earlier.
IV: 0.32 sec
HKV: 0.33 sec
Extended shot of Jin Biao sideways.