Comparison between the regular theatrical version (apart from opening/closing credits, identical in, for example, Hong Kong, USA, UK, Germany, France & Spain) and the Taiwanese extended version (on the DVD from Taiwan by Ritek)
An additional cut in the US versions with a duration of 10 seconds (last shot before the credits)
Furthermore, 9 minor discrepancies on the Taiwanese DVD (most likely due to reel changes) with a total duration of 9.9 seconds
A few additional minor master errors lasting less than 0.5 seconds each were not listed in the edit report for the sake of clarity.
With Fist of Legend, a remake of the Bruce Lee classic Fist of Fury, Jet Li was seen in top form in excellently choreographed fight scenes by Yuen Woo-Ping in 1994. This film is highly recommended for any martial arts fan with a penchant for very fast-paced action. In most countries, the regular theatrical version of the film has been released (with minor differences in opening/closing credits). However, this title was also released in Taiwan before the globally standard version was finalized, resulting in a special extended version available there.
In contrast to the only slightly extended Taiwanese version of Black Mask, here you get to see several additional or significantly expanded plot scenes. However, comparisons regarding the quality of the Taiwan DVD can be drawn parallel to Black Mask: it is catastrophically poor, with some scenes barely recognizable due to the darkened image. Additionally, the sound mix in the Taiwanese version doesn't seem final either; for example, in the opening scene full of bone-cracking action, one often hears only muffled noises on the sidelines. Soundtrack pieces are also partly missing or instead, you hear rather weak, different pieces.
As with many Asian films, there are also some little differences in dialogue and subtitles, depending on which version you watch. It should be briefly mentioned that, yet again for the US release, further tinkering with the soundtrack occurred, although the film itself (except for a shot just before the credits) is in its uncut theatrical form. The alternative credits in the USA also don't shine. Among all DVD editions, however, the picture quality in the US releases by Buena Vista and Dragon Dynasty is clearly the best. The same version was then evaluated by CineAsia in the UK.
Before the US release, the French DVD was a decent alternative, although without English subtitles. This report was originally created using that version, and we revised it afterwards (following separate comparisons of various releases worldwide). Relevant additional information is documented in the appendix after the actual differences in the Taiwanese version.
Finally, a comment on HD releases: The first German Blu-ray by HMH in 2008 was merely an upscale in 1080i. In 2010, Dragon Dynasty released a high-quality Blu-ray, utilizing their own master, and in 2011, this version reached a German Blu-ray through Splendid. For further details on the HD quality, you can refer to screenshot comparisons on Caps-a-holic.
Runtime information is arranged according to the following schema:
The Taiwanese DVD has its own introductory logo.
Note: The picture format or the black matting "migrates" once again in Taiwan, as with many DVDs/LaserDiscs with longer versions there. The screenshots in the following report have been cropped a little to show only the visible image area as far as possible.
Depending on the country, there are also different logos at the beginning. The French DVD with the theatrical version has the original Chinese credits, which correspond exactly to those from Taiwan...
...except for the very last insert, because a few other actors are mentioned here.
The US version again has its own logos and, above all, a newly designed, terribly pseudo-modern opening credits. This runs a little longer.
The very first shot directly afterwards still has a fixed fade-in text in the Taiwan version, which is missing on both the French and the US DVD.
The Australian VHS (more on this special cut later in a separate report) also has the insert and offers a translation. On the Spanish DVD with the original English export image master, you can only see the English translation.
In the further course of the movie there are a few more such location insertions, but they are not listed again.
11:46-11:48 / 11:29
When Chen Zhen enters the school, the TW has a small master error. As with the following differences in italics, these are mostly role changes.
+ 1.6 sec
23:08-23:09 / 22:49
The autopsy scene is also missing the first few inconsequential frames.
+ 1.1 sec
30:57 / 30:37-31:13
The conversation between the General and his assistants starts earlier in the Taiwan version.
The general slams the paper with his hand on the open floor between the men sitting in the circle. Very angry, he complains to his men about their poor performance. Then he turns to the Japanese diplomat. He asks him if the "Kokuryu clan" has good relations with the Chinese. The man replies that it is difficult to have good relations with the Chinese since the Japanese have conquered Tsingtao and refused to relinquish it. The general then leans forward very angrily and explains that Tsingtao was conquered by the Germans with Japanese blood. If the Chinese wanted it back, they would have to exchange it for their own blood.
33:12-33:13 / 33:28
At the end of the scene, the TW has another small master error.
+ 0.7 sec
44:50-44:51 / 45:05
Next master error in the TW: Chen and Mitsuko hold each other a moment longer and the subsequent shot begins a few frames earlier.
+ 0.8 sec
51:02 / 51:16-51:31
After bowing several times in a crouch to say goodbye, the Taiwan cut shows Chen Zhen leaving the Jingwu School. Someone hands him his suitcase, whereupon he and Mitsuko walk towards the entrance gate. Mitsuko stops once more, turns around and bows deeply. Then she follows Chen Zhen.
53:47-53:48 / 54:17
Here, too, a few frames are lost during a scene transition.
+ 1 sec
55:52-55:55 / 56:20-58:37
The opium scene, probably the most famous extension in the Taiwan long version:
After the students of the Jingwu School set off to find their master Ting-En (in the Taiwan version he is called Tang Yan), the Taiwan cut proceeds in the brothel where Ting-En is staying. The prostitute he has fallen in love with walks down a few steps and is approached by another woman. She is visibly trying to stop her from looking after Ting-En. When she finally manages to persuade the woman to follow her into the room, she runs off without further ado. She opens the door to Ting-En's room: She is horrified to see that he is smoking opium and having his back massaged by another woman. Offended, she sits down on a stool. She makes it abundantly clear that it will be over between her and Ting-En if he doesn't stop smoking opium. After Ting-En has sent the initially reluctant second woman out of the room, he stands up and explains that he smokes opium because he feels bad - offended by the lost fight, for example. Finally, he says that he will stop immediately if she doesn't like it.
In the theatrical version, there's a shot of the cook in the kitchen, then another of the deceased master's shrine.
Taiwan long version 133.9 sec (= 2:14 min) longer
59:45 / 62:27
Another few frames during a scene transition.
+ 0.6 sec
64:26 / 67:08-67:38
After Ting-En surprisingly takes a hit from a student during training, the Taiwanese version still shows: Ting-En sits lonely on a chair and looks around. His girlfriend enters the room and brings him a cup of tea. She asks him why he is still up so late, but he only replies that she should go to bed first. She then leaves the room, somewhat saddened, while Ting-En continues to look sadly ahead of him (accompanied by appropriate music).
69:07-69:08 / 72:18
A shot of Chen Zhen starts a little earlier.
+ 1.1 sec
76:47 / 79:57-80:26
After the big match between Chen Zhen and Mitsuko's uncle Funakoshi, a round of Go between Funakoshi and the Japanese diplomat follows. In the theatrical version (after the close-up of the board), the beginning of the conversation during the game is missing. The diplomat asks if Funakoshi has never thought that his position in his clan could be "fatal". He doesn't know what he's talking about at first, but then understands quite quickly. He says that there is nothing to apologize for. What he is doing is still better than being a pawn for the military.
78:52-78:53 / 82:31
Switching to the next scene outside, the TW is again missing a few insignificant frames.
+ 1.1 sec
89:34-89:35 / 93:12
A slightly more interesting master error in the TW: Chen Zhen collapses at the end of the shot and the subsequent shot of Tien also begins a little earlier.
+ 1.6 sec
92:21 / 95:57-95:58
When Chen is kicked in the stomach, the shot in the TW starts 8 frames earlier.
96:50 / 100:26-100:33
Chen hobbles a little longer with Tien to the door. The subsequent shot of the soldiers rushing in also begins a little earlier.
100:47-100:54 / 104:30-104:43
In various releases (= identical on US DVD and therefore also UK DVD + German Blu-ray, French DVD & Spanish DVD) the picture freezes just as the car is driving off. After a few seconds, the picture fades to black.
In the Taiwan version, the shot is much longer. The car drives completely out of the picture and you can still see the street life, while text appears on the right.
Taiwanese DVD 5.7 sec longer
However, this longer shot appears almost in its entirety on the Hong Kong LaserDisc from Mei Ah and the British VHS, just cutting off a little earlier than both the Taiwanese DVD and the Australian VHS. Presumably, the Chinese text was embedded in the master and therefore also cut out on the French DVD, although this might actually be a part of the regular theatrical version. On the Australian VHS this is not subtitled (in contrast to the location information at the beginning after the opening credits), but both the British VHS and the Hong Kong LaserDisc (the latter used here for the screenshots) offer the explanation of what is written here:
The subsequent shot of the pupils running around is missing completely from the US versions. The French DVD with the Hong Kong theatrical version shows it in its entirety, although here the first second fades from black, while the Taiwan version shows this first second "normally". At the end, you can see Tien patting someone on the shoulder and nodding with satisfaction.
The end credits on the French DVD are not exactly the same as the Taiwan version, but are structured quite similarly.
The US version has a completely original creation instead, which also runs a little longer.
Additionally, the US version lacks the sympathetic look at the film crew towards the end, which is present in the Taiwanese cut, but also most other releases.
Finally, a few comparison images from the movie. In the Taiwanese master, some scenes literally sink into black.
Let's take a look at the last comparison image in other releases. The French DVD already looked relatively good and, above all, clearly better than the long version from Taiwan and other releases worldwide at the time. Nevertheless, there was still room for improvement here too. The DVD from Spain, on the other hand, looked catastrophic...
...but in turn was quite interesting in that it shows the original English export credits from Golden Harvest.
Previously there was, for example, the British VHS of Made in Hong Kong (= Hong Kong theatrical version with corresponding credits as on the French DVD, for example), which had large black bars at the bottom for the English subtitles. We also had the LaserDisc from Hong Kong.
Last but not least, let's take a look at the Australian VHS, which curiously contains a few of the long version scenes and offers a better picture than the Taiwanese DVD. However, the opium scene and the subsequent meeting between Tien and his girlfriend are also missing here. And to finish it up, a cap of the German HDTV broadcast on Arte (theatrical version with Asian credits and freeze frame at the end + shot of the runners).