This is a comparison between the UK VHS released by M.I.A and the uncut DVD released by Ascot Elite / Infopictures / Retrofilm.
- 26 cuts
- Difference in time: 276.9 sec (= 4:37 min)
NOTE: Minor differences (runtime: less than 0.5 seconds) that are a result of film tears won't be considered for reasons of simplicity.
This cult trash-actioner from the Cannon-Studios is probably not the reason for the boom of ninja movies in the 80's, however, it definitively was a reason for this subgenre's popularity. Sho Kosugi - a well known ninja movie actor - only has a minor role as the antagonist (unlike the sequels). Still, the movie is fun as hell. Movie legend Franco Nero of course rather makes a fool of himself when playing a martial artist but who in the 80's would have expected high quality fighting scenes in movies produced outside of Asia anyway... Nero's - wearing a white combat dress - grim facial expressions plus his moustache make his performance absolutely entertaining.
When looking at some of the scenes in this movie, it was clear to everyone that the BBFC would have a lot of complaints: animal cruelty (during the rooster fighting scenes) and - due to the topic of the movie - the usage of nunchakus and throwing stars seemed to make it impossible for the movie to come out uncut in the UK. Unlike the ninja weapons, however, animal cruelty is still a no-go for the UK censors.
The M.I.A. DVD was a direct transfer of the VHS to the DVD. Thus, it includes the same raunchy image quality (which you can see at the bottom of this comparison) as well as all the film tears.
Time designations are given as follows:
UK VHS / Uncut Version
We would like to Shamrock Media who provided us with the material for this comparison!
On the UK VHS/DVD we at the beginning see a Columbia Pictures logo, while the Uncut DVD shows the new MGM logo.
(This does not count for the overall difference in time!)
+ 9.5 sec
00:29-00:41 / 00:20-00:30
At first sight, this might seem to be a rather uninteresting change of credits, however, this is already censorship:
The first two credits for actors were altered. In the Uncut Version you see Sho Kosugi doing his thing, while the UK VHS only shows the two names in front of a black screen. The rest of the credits are identical. The alteration happened because of the usage of a nunchaku - which the BBFC didn't like back then.
VHS 1.9 sec longer (Overall runtime: 9.8 sec)
06:07 / 05:56-06:26
Hasegawa is shown with a throwing star in front of his face. Soon, he throws them at a tree. Then follows a short fight that involves nunchakus. Cole breaks them and then flees.
06:47 / 07:06-07:15
Cole turns around and kills another opponent with his throwing stars.
19:11 / 19:39
After Cole and Frank drank a toast to each other, the following shot begins slightly earlier.
20:41 / 21:09-22:18
Cole and Frank walk a little longer. Then follows the first rooster fight.
Frank: "This is where I like to spend most of my time. With my workers. Pee-Wee! I want you to meet my old friend. He'll be staying with us for a while."
Pee-Wee: "Sir, you want me to set up a cockfight for your friend? We'll win today, boss!"
Frank: "I'll bet your ass, we will! Here, put 200 pesos on him."
Pee-Wee: "200 pesos... Come on!"
Frank: "Get those suckers down! Come on, you, fight! Kill him, kill him! Now we'll win again..."
Subsequently, there's another missing scene where they use nunchakus. Cole is doing some training in his garden while Mary Ann drives past him
Mary Ann: "Morning! I'm going to town. You want to come?"
23:17 / 24:54-24:57
Pee-Wee is beat up during those short shots.
29:02 / 30:42-30:44
Cole lands on his feet and immediately runs to another opponent whom he defeats via a hit on the ear (which back then was called "Double Ear Clap").
29:03 / 30:45-30:58
After a short cut to Mary Ann, we don't see the guy who was just hit on the ears being hit in the face. Cole lunges out and the bad guy falls to the ground in slow motion.
37:07 / 39:02-39:09
Rooster fight number two: The workers throw the poor animals in the middle of the circle before some bad guys show up.
37:12 / 39:14-39:15
A short shot of the fighting roosters.
37:16 / 39:19-39:22
Ditto; we see the people that surround the fight.
45:26 / 47:32-47:35
Cole sneaks up to a bad guy from behind and then chokes him in a close-up shot. The following shot from farther away, however, was included on the UK VHS/DVD.
46:24 / 48:33-48:57
Cole fights two guards off with a karate chop. The following conversation of Frank and the neatly dressed gangsters starts a little earlier
Mr. Parker: "You see, you have no time."
Frank: "No time? How much time are you willing to give me?"
Mr. Parker: "My employer insists on an immediate answer."
55:28 / 58:01-58:11
If you don't know the uncut version, you won't really recognize that now follows a cut: In the middle of the scene, Hasegawa uses nunchakus. Since the scenes that surround the nunchaku-segment have the exact same perspective, you don't recognize the cut in the uncut version.
64:20 / 67:03-67:12
Hasegawa has a weapon with nails on his hand which he uses to kill the first guard. Blood splashes after he hits him on the forehead.
68:24 / 71:16-71:31
Hasegawa pulls Frank towards him, puts him in a strangehold and breaks his arm. Frank screams but is able to break free.
68:36 / 71:43-71:54
Hasegawa throws a ninja star at Frank and is angry because he missed. The second star, however, hits Frank's leg.
68:52 / 72:10-72:12
The beginning of the shot - hence the bloody cut in the neck - was cut out.
72:50 / 76:10-76:12
A shot of a throwing star.
74:37 / 77:59-78:06
Cole is shown a little longer in the hallway: He reaches for a throwing star and uses it to kill a guard.
The UK VHS/DVD continues, when the guard falls to the ground.
79:07 / 82:36-82:58
Cole stops in a hallway, since he recognises an attacker behind him. Quickly, he throws a couple of ninja stars at him.
Another bad guy is killed via nails from a blowpipe.
80:07 / 83:58-84:12
Cole reaches for a huge ninja star and throws it at the head of a bad guy.
Venarius: "Ninja! I told you I was ready to talk!"
80:09 / 84:14-84:15
After we saw Cole using the blowpipe, the UK VHS/DVD doesn't show the effect: A bad guy falls to the ground with a nail in his neck.
82:19 / 86:25-86:30
This shot is slightly longer: Cole throws a ninja star. We see it hitting Venarius' chest while the latter drops his gun.
82:21 / 86:32-86:34
The following shot of Venarius begins a little earlier, hence we get a better look at the throwing star before he falls to the ground.
86:50 / 91:03-91:06
Hasegawa throws ninja stars at Cole twice. He misses.
After the end credits, the uncut DVD shows the MGM logo again.
In the end, here's a short comparison of the image quality. The UK VHS/DVD is Open Matte and thus shows some more picture information at the top and the bottom of the image. In the widescreen version you don't really miss out on too many details and the better image quality alone should be the reason to stick with the uncut DVD.