Several different versions of the dynamic actioner Black Mask have been released worldwide. The average filmfan can only be confused about that, but even experts reach their limits here. According to our search, the various versions can be categorized in the following scheme:
Hong Kong Version
The HK Version was censored for its theatrical release. The uncensored HK Version was only released on DVD in France by HKV. Unfortunately, the HKV-DVD doesnít contain an English audio track or English subtitles. The HK Version is distinctly different than any other versions released worldwide.
Export Version / International Version
The Export Version was released in several countries, mainly on VHS. In comparison to the HK Version, a lot of scenes are different in the Export Version.
The US Version is pretty similar to the Export Version and was released on DVD by Artisan (obviously in the US). The German re-release on DVD by Kinowelt and presumably the DVDs in other countries are based on the master of the US DVD. Thatís why the US Version is spread in several countries these days. In comparison to the Export Version, the US Version varies at the beginning and ending.
Taiwanese Extended Cut
As often when it comes to HK movies, a special extended Version of Black Mask was released in Taiwan. It seems as if that version is based on a workprint. It contains many additional plot scenes plus itís completely uncensored. Moreover that version contains further action scenes and is the longest version worldwide. Furthermore it contains the original soundtrack with a lot of different tracks. In comparison to the Export Version, the Taiwanese Version only lacks a few shots and plot scenes. Disadvantage oft he Taiwanese Version is the bad DVD release that only contains DD2.0 sound plus itís awfully letterboxed. The Taiwanese Version is OOP and only available on ebay.
The next disadvantage is the subtitling: both the English and the Taiwanese subs arenít optinal and canít be switched off. Often their hard to read due to the white coloring and they could be on the screen for an extended period to make the reading more comfy. But that problem exists often on Asian DVDs.
Nevertheless the Taiwanese Version is the most interesting Version but the Export Version and the US Version can be recommended as well.
The Taiwan Version has been structured differently, especially at its beginning. As a result of that, it makes way more sense than the tightened Export Version. Thatís not going to be mentioned in the actual comparison because itís neither interesting nor clear. The comparison is reduced to mentioning any scenes missing in the Export Version, no matter where that scene pops up in the Taiwanese Version. For chronological reason, the comparison is oriented towards the International Version.
To emphasize the actual censorship in the context with violence, those differences are marked in red.
The time index refers to the Export Version represented by the German VHS (PAL). Time measurement started at the beginning of the movie without the logos in the calculation.
Compared are the Taiwanese Extended Cut from the ThunderMedia DVD and the International Export Version, represented by the German VHS from Starlight (not rated).
The index refers to the Taiwanese Version.
9 cuts = 62 sec
0.04.14 - (Introduction at the library)
The International Version contains a short tracking shot from a mountain to Hong Kong. Meanwhile Jet Li tells he'd never heard from others again. (The Taiwanese Version contains a shorter alternate shot, also without sound.)
0.17.03 - (The drug lord with the bomb up his chest)
Tsui Chick is on the quest for Rock to tell him about the bomb.
The Taiwanese Version lacks a shot of him asking for Rock at the police station. But the cops let him know that Rock went to a hospital.
0.21.44 - (Tsui Chick prepares his performance as Black Mask vor)
First a slightly extended shot of the sky in fast motion in the International Version. The subsequent shot of the fish in the aquarium is also longer.
6 sec in total
After Tsui Chick got the glasses out of the aquarium, the International Version dissolves: two short shots of Tsui Chick grinding, sparkling included.
The scene of Tsui Chick watching over his vital functions is shorter in the Taiwanse Version because the distance shot of lying Tsui is shorter.
After Tsui checked his vital functions, some mini shots are missing:
30. Min - (Meeting Yuek-Lan)
Before Tsui Chick meets Yuek-Lan, a short scene is missing in the Taiwanese Version. Yuek-Lan is sitting at the police station, Rock arrives. He tells the secretary he was going to take care of the paperwork. Then he bends over to Yuek-Lan and says he was waiting outside and tells her to go out with him.
0.53.43 - (Squad 701 receives data about undercover agents)
A short shot of Commander Hang sitting on a chair is missing in the Taiwanese Version.
1.01.20 - (Assassination of King Lau at the hospital)
The Taiwanese Version lacks a zoom of a sign which reads: "intensive care unit".