Comparison between the censored UK-VHS from Polygram Video / 4 Front Video (BBFC 18) and the uncensored US-DVD from 20th Century Fox / Fortune Star
UK-VHS: 86:10 min (no closing credits) in PAL
US-DVD: 97:27 min o.A. (98:23 min without credits) in NTSC
=> which equals 93:29 min without credits (94:21 min w.c.) in PAL
- 24 additional cuts
- time difference: 505,7 sec (= 8:28 min)
Additional time differences result from alternative logos, the bad quality of the masters and early fade-outs on the VHS
In the time of VHS all Bruce Lee classics were only released as more or less censored versions in the UK. As one can imagine, the nunchakus used by Bruce Lee weren't popular with the censors of the BBFC and accordingly Lee's second last film Way Of The Dragon had to suffer the most. The brawl in the backyard where said weapons are used excessively is only a fragment of the original scene. But also many other scene have been altered, mainly when they involve attacks on defenseless men lying on the ground. In any case, this is the Bruce Lee film that was censored the most and a good example of what martial arts fans had to cope with in the time of VHS.
By the way, the tapes are not recommendable anyway. Not only because of the missing scenes but also because of the heavily zoomed in picture of the VHS.
The DVD releases from the former DVD-label Hong Kong Legends were all uncensored, since the censorship guidelines have become more lenient. To every fan, the "Platinum Edition" can be recommended. The good image quality and the substantial bonus material make it one of the best editions so far. The US-DVD can also be recommended but contains less bonus material.
Time references are given according to the following scheme:
UK-VHS in PAL / UK-DVD in PAL
The US-DVD starts with the Golden Harvest Logo.
The UK-VHS first shows a different logo, then an old version of the Golden Harvest Logo.
UK-VHS 27 sec longer
The opening credits are different, the VHS only uses English credits. As can be seen from the pictures, the image was strentched to get the full screen picture that was so popular at the time.
32:04 / 32:59-33:05
The camera showing Lung zooms out. Then the bad guy with the dotted shirt gets a kick to his back. Lung comments on his move.
32:33 / 33:35-33:52
The dark skinned attacker falls down to the ground and receives two more blows to his head from Lung. He squats down on him and first fends of a couple of slowly approaching attackers with a leg scissors move. (The VHS continues with the shot of Chen (Nora Miao))
32:55 / 34:15
No new cut, but an example of the disadvantages of the full screen picture. Since there are two persons here, one standing on the right side of the picture and the other one on the left side, and they have a conversation, an artificial cut or rather shot had to be inserted on the VHS. From one zoom in of the left side of the picture, the VHS suddenly jumps to a zoom in of the right side of the picture, although this is only one long shot in the original.
39:13 / 40:49-41:14
After Lung has thrown the guy to the ground, the VHS jumps to the gangster boss. In the original however, he breaks his neck with the leg scissors move and, after another punch, he drags him into the next room. Chen takes the weapon that was left behind but Lung snatches it out of his hand again immediately and throws it away. He says good bye and impressed, watches him leave.
42:36 / 44:47-45:21
Here, scissors were used very thoroughly after a shot of the silent waiters.
Mr. Hung gets the ok from his boss via eye contact and has the bad guy in the shirt hit his victim's head with the pistol. After continuing resistance the victim (Ah Quen) receives another punch in his stomach. Uncle Wang tries to calm him down.
46:33 / 49:27-49:34
The bad guy staggers towards the door in an additional shot,then Lung beats up the two other guys. (One of them gets burried under a box.)
46:41 / 49:42-49:49
After the short mobilization of the men in the restaurant, the outdoor scene starts earlier: Lung knocks a knife out of the hand of an attacker with a stick. Then he rams it into the latter's testicles. After that, he throws his flight ticket to the ground. The UK-VHS continues when he takes of his shirt.
46:43 / 49:51-52:41
...and after that has happend, a heavy cut follows. The attacker with the dotted shirt calls for attack and after several bad guys have armed themselves and gone into formation, Lung takes out two nunchakus at the same time. With those he beats up several guys. After a while he shows mercy and continues with only one nunchaku - which is still more than enough. Eventually, only the guy in the shirt is left. He says something like "mamma mia!" and Lung starts walking towards him.
46:44 / 52:43-53:27
A reaction shot of the shirt-guy was also on the VHS, but then the rest of the duel is missing. After all, Lung still puts one nunchaku to use. First, he batters an opponent with it, then, after his involuntary fall, he sees the second nunchaku on the ground. Unfortunately, he obviously cannot use it well and only hurts himself while spinning it around before Lung finishes him off.
So our hero returns to the restaurant but stops in the doorway.
46:49 / 53:32-53:39
After a long shot of the discussion, a couple of more shots in which Lung beats up some more bad guys are missing.
First, he quitely puts the nunchaku around his neck and gets out some darts from his socks. He then throws these at some other bad guys before a short fight with some waiters begins.
The boss wants to escape but Lung throws the left over nunchaku around his hand and with that prevents the boss from leaving the restaurant.
Suprisingly, the VHS shows the next shot of Lung, because it seems as if has managed to get from the unfinished fight in the backyard to the restaurant within a couple of seconds...
46:52 / 53:42-53:46
Due to reasons of coherence the beginning of the following shot is missing. The boss throws the nunchaku to the ground and obeys Lung's oder, which is given via hand sign, to follow him.
56:48 / 64:28-65:01
Lung looks to the side and sees how the bad guys beat up one of the waiters one after another. Lung intervenes and kicks all the guys down to the ground. For example, one rolls over an armchair and another one gets a blow to his testicles.
57:01 / 65:15-65:20
The guy in the orange shirt bends down to where one of the bad guys is beaten up by his collegues.
67:19 / 76:04-76:23
Bob beats up a waiter who is lying on the ground. Another one wants to help but is also thrown down to the ground. The Japanese guy also gets to the action. Then Bob grabs the next waiter and in another shot from below he punches him.
67:29 / 76:33-76:36
The shot is longer: More shuffling and kicks for Bob. He also gets kicks to his head and also has to endure other attacks from Lung in additional shots.
Eventually, two waiters try their luck with the Japanese guy but they are not successful.
67:55 / 77:27-77:32
Bob is shown slightly longer and the following shot begins earlier: Lung lands a painful kick between his leg.
67:58 / 77:35-77:37
Bob's exit was of course also softened. After he has been thrown to the ground Lung lands a punch in his testicles and the camera zooms in.
68:00 / 77:40-77:50
After Lung has looked to the side, the rest of the fight between the Japanese guy and the waiters is missing. One of them has to suffer some more kicks while lying on the ground. The tape version continues with the zoom in on Lung.
68:28 / 78:19-78:23
A first shot of the Japanese falling down to the ground follows and after an inter-cut to Mr. Hung, Lung kicks him one more time.
68:29 / 78:24-78:36
The Japanese guy is staggering around longer and eventually manages to get back his balance. But Lung immediately kicks him in the face (one time when the Japanese is still standing and one time when he is already on his knees)
69:08 / 79:16-79:19
The waiter has to suffer significantly longer and the camera zooms in on uncle Wang after he has drawn his knife.
78:56 / 89:40-90:34
The shot is longer and after he has fended off several attacks, Lung kicks the hollow of Colt's knees. In an additional shot Colt goes down to the ground after a kick to his face, followed by more attacks of Bruce, among them kicks to the hollow of the knee and shuffling. The VHS continues in the middle of the shot where Lung brings Colt down to the ground with the kick to the face.
79:37 / 91:17-91:22
After the kick to the face, more punches follow.
At the end of the film, the VHS only shows the "The End"- caption, the DVD already starts to show some credits when Lung walks away and they continue afterwards with a black background.