The Iron Flag & Legendary Weapons of China
At the end of 2021, the British collector's label Arrow Video released the Shawscope Vol. 1 box set, a great collection for fans of the legendary Hongkong production company Shaw Brothers. The special feature was that Arrow could offer "new 2K restorations" for 7 of the 12 films, which no longer had the framecuts of the Celestial masters. Other films were also included uncut as a bonus SD master after all. In many reports we have described this in more detail, see for example the comparison to Mighty Peking Man. To be fair, the films without remastering were simply referred to as "High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations".
In the meantime, before Arrow releases more titles individually as well as in a Vol. 2 box set later this year, other Shaw films have also been brought forward as Blu-ray premieres by the label 88 Films. On February 07, 2022, these were, in parallel in UK and USA, The Flag of Iron and Legendary Weapons of China. The latter has been on display for a broader audience on Netflix since 2018. For both films it was stated somewhat vaguely as a feature that you can expect a "HD Remaster from The Original 35mm Negatives". This gave some hope for fresh scans, similar to the Arrow output. The Blu-rays were now in front of us for comparison with previous Celestial releases.
For Legendary Weapons of China in particular, the 109-minute runtime on, for example, any Amazon listings or Blu-ray.com also stood out. The Netflix version matched the known Celestial master and ran around 100 minutes in 25fps. This suggests a difference of 4 minutes due to Celestial framecuts, as, for example, an old NL VHS ran 104 minutes in 25fps. The latter would correspond to 109 minutes on Blu-ray. However, 88 Films doesn't live up to the high hopes: The Blu-ray runs 105:13min and it's exactly identical to the well-known Celestial master from Netflix (but in 23,976fps).
Same game with The Flag of Iron: The version runs 113:13min and thus corresponds to the known Celestial restoration in 23.976fps. At least there was no different runtime stated in this case. Additionally, it's hard to reconstruct how long the film actually ran in theaters and on VHS, since hardly any VHS releases are known. The German version was radically cut by at least 25 minutes compared to the Celestial version.
Of course, it's a shame that you won't find any new restorations without framecuts here. The lack of a clear note of "NEW" probably hinted at that. And once the end credits roll, you can even still see the 2004/07 copyright notices of the HD masters used by 88 Films. The "35mm-remaster" promotional wording from 88 Films is a bit unfortunate there. Nevertheless: Both releases are recommended to fans thanks to the usually great set of slipcases, booklets & other goodies and of course lots of exclusive bonus material.
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Release: Mar 02, 2022 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47