This is a comparison between the shortened US Version released by Dimension Home Video and the uncut original Version released by e-m-s.
- 31 cuts
- Difference in time: 548.8 sec (= 9:09 min)
Different credits were not regarded, neither were short framecuts with a runtime of less than 0.5 seconds.
The second part of the Swordsman-series is one of the most famous ones, probably due to Jet Li being a part of the cast, thus giving it the best international marketing opportunities. The people at Miramax/Dimension probably thought the same thing, thus making it another Hongkong movie which was trimmed down for its US release.
In this case they were at least kind enough to leave the original soundtrack intact. Also, the credits are not a pseudo-modern WordArt catastrophe as is the case for many Hongkong movies that were edited for US audiences. Still, there are a lot of reasons to make a report about it: About 9 minutes of footage were cut out; most of the missing scenes include plot or comedic elements. Granted, most of the footage that was cut out is not really relevant, still it seems to be unnecessary. Towards the end of the movie there are a few violent sequences that were cut out, which might annoy fans.
A possibility to see the movie in good quality and uncut is the German DVD by e-m-s, or the UK DVD released by Optimum Releasing - of course, US movie fans will need a codefree DVD player to watch the discs.
Time designations are given as follows
US DVD [NTSC] / German DVD [PAL]
At the beginning of the movies there are different logos.
Deutsche DVD 9.4 sec longer.
03:39-04:29 / 03:40-04:27
After the previous title cards follow the opening credits. Thankfully, they were not altered in the US Version, they are still Chinese. However, the title itself and the other credits look slightly different.
No difference in time.
04:41 / 04:39-04:42
The shot is a little longer and Hattori orders to make the signal. Immediately, they fire a spear.
05:01 / 05:01-05:07
Hattori says that he will take care of it and thus walks to the rebels.
07:11 / 07:12-08:44
The movie fades to an earlier scene with Ling and Kiddo. Kiddo mourns the dead horse and Ling consoles her. He seems to see whine as a possible solution for sadness which makes Kiddo mad. When he says that the horse used to throw her off in the last few months she gets even more enraged and covers her ears. In the end they agree to ''sacrifice'' grass instead of whine by throwing it into the water. By doing so, Ling produces way too big flames which gives Kiddo another reason to nag.
08:58 / 10:27-11:12
You can see the townspeople making music. You can hear Ying singing the calm theme song until the servant enters off-screen and shouts for her mistress. Ying looks up.
28:36 / 30:02-30:12
Asia appreciatively drinks the whine. Ling startles in the water because a fish swam nearby. He presents the fish which moments later slips out of his hands. Ling grins.
29:49-29:52 / 31:22-31:40
In the Original Version Ling keeps on looking for Asia and can't resist tasting her wine again. He enthusiastically says that the bottle will hopefully never be empty. After all, the wine works so well that he is already hearing voices.
The US Version at this point re-inserted a shot of nature, implying that Asia is already out of Ling's sight. Then the movie continues with the rest of the scene where Ling picks up the sword and leaves.
Original Version 16.2 sec longer.
31:44 / 33:28-33:48
The scene in the camp starts earlier. You can see quite a spectacle in the streets.
32:51 / 34:53-35:02
Several bystanders gather while Asia continues talking off-screen.
36:20 / 38:22-39:09
Again, the townspeople are shown earlier. They sit together and drink. In between them you can see Ling – who is slightly disguised – talking to one of the people. Suddenly, bad guys appear and for safety's sake he acts like he is drunk. His companion is a little irritated and asks what this is all about. Ling explains that they should not be spotted.
37:03 / 39:50-40:06
He goes through the bushes a little longer and then you see the people dancing next to the fire again. One of them suggests to get one of the pursuers. Ling says that he is in. As soon as they leave, the guy changes his mind and instead rather follows them.
41:29 / 44:20-44:36
Japanese wardens come by which is why the heroes act like they are drunk again. In this way they are able to prevent further investigations.
51:42 / 54:24-54:28
After Hattori's salution (whose translation is entirely different in both the German and the US Version) Ling takes the opportunity to speak and Hattori makes a snappy comment.
53:44 / 56:26-56:34
Another shot of Hattori and one of Asia.
This again is a little hard to explain due to the entirely different translation: Asia laughs and says that it is rather Hattori than her who has to expect bad consequences since one would cut his head off if he failed.
59:29 / 62:05-62:41
Zen – an older member – gives a lot of background information about the systematic excision of the Sun Moon Cult by Asia.
Whoever was not able to run away or denied cooperation was thrown in a dungeon. When being brought to court most plead guilty so that they would at least be executed quickly. Bereaved children would rather be found in the streets as beggars and whoever didn't know any way out jumped off a cliff.
68:46 / 71:35-71:36
Asia talks slightly longer. The content of this dialogue can in the US Version be heard during the following shot of Asia's lover Cici.
70:19 / 73:05-74:14
An entire scene was cut out where people sit together and eat/drink. Meanwhile, Kiddo and Ying keep guard outside, but they slowly get tired.
Inside, Zen complains about the alienated swords, since the younger ones happily cut their vegetables or use it as coathooks or musical instruments.
71:23 / 75:16-75:32
The younger ones don't seem to be impressed by Zen's warnings and instead continue to celebrate. He philosophizes with a cloudy look on his face.
74:32 / 78:34-78:51
Wu comes out of the fog with his huge claws. The younglings discuss the used powder and Wu angrily says that they will have to fight if they want to save Ling. Ying gets on his way.
78:23 / 82:32-82:52
There are two shots of someone being hacked to peaces. The other guys say that they will take revenge for their brothers but Asia kills them with simple punches.
79:12 / 83:39-83:44
Phoenix talks to Kiddo a little longer.
80:01 / 84:30-84:36
You see Kiddo and Phoenix in two shots from a little farther away.
80:39 / 85:13-85:20
Cici is shown from a closer point of view and says that she really misses Asia. Then she spits out some blood.
80:57 / 85:36-85:49
A girls mourns a dead person and holds him in her arms. Ling approaches her.
84:29 / 89:12-89:17
Ling is shown slightly longer.
90:43 / 95:16-95:18
Asia is shown again. A blood fountain shoots out of her body.
90:48 / 95:23-95:26
After Wu raised his hand, there are a few missing shots of blood splashing out of Asia's wound. It splashes onto him a little.
91:16 / 95:53
Ling is shown a little longer.
91:42 / 96:19-96:23
Ling and the others get ready. Then we see Asia: A lot of blood splashes out of her wound.
94:28 / 99:02-99:04
Blood splashes against the wall and the traitor's head rolls by the camera.
97:56 / 102:24-103:14
While the US Version already fades to black, the Original Version shows the shot of Ying a little longer. She looks at Ling driving away a little longer. She is obviously sad. Kiddo leans against Ling and he pats her on the head.
The end credits are different. In the Original Version they at first run in front of a freeze frame of the last shot of Ying at the riverside.
US Version 61.2 sec longer.