Comparison between the Japanese Alternate Cut and the Hong Kong Original Version (both included in the British 4K-UHD Set from Arrow Video)
Regarding Arrow Video's British Box Set "BRUCE LEE AT GOLDEN HARVEST" in 4K-UHD, we have already summarized all the essential details in the report for the Mandarin Cut of the first film The Big Boss. It is practically a must-buy for devoted fans, partly because of its absolutely spectacular 10-minute longer cut. Lee's directorial debut The Way of the Dragon also comes in two different cuts and the "Alternate Japanese Version" at first glance sounds intriguing.
Similar to the English export version of Fist of Fury, the result from our perspective regarding the version/exclusive material is disappointing. Once again, the significant difference lies in the soundtrack, which was replaced for the Japanese release. Only here, you can hear the song "The Way of Life" by Mike Remedios. Otherwise, the runtime difference of over a minute in favor of the Japanese version is due to different credits, but no variations can be found in the main part of the film. Once again, it's nice for die-hard fans, but for the average viewer, it doesn't make any significant difference which version they watch.
Runtime indications are arranged according to the scheme:
The original version still refers to Fortune Star at the beginning.
+ 36 sec
00:00-00:54 / 00:36
In contrast, the Japanese version has a title card on a blue background at the beginning, followed by the Japanese title over a drawing of a dragon. The unique English theme song of the Japanese version is already playing.
00:54-01:11 / 00:36-01:26
The logos of Concord & Golden Harvest that follow were significantly shortened in the Japanese version. Here, you only see the final "result," while both logos are "built up" in animated form in the original version. For Concord, two dots jump through the image. For Golden Harvest, the letters are assembled, and a red line runs through them.
Original version 32.5 sec longer
01:11-03:01 / 01:26-03:16
The Japanese version has the credits entirely in English.
No time difference
There are also various other opening credit variations in the bonus material:
2) English Export Credits (1972) with mostly different title card:
3) US Theatrical Release (1974) with a different distributor and alternative title:
4) US Theatrical Re-Release (1980) with a newer Golden Harvest logo, partly different layout, and its own title card:
98:51-100:12 / 99:05-99:17
The final shot of Bruce walking away is frozen in the Japanese version. The alternative English theme song for Japan continues to play, along with some screams from Bruce. After a while, it transitions to a drawing, over which "The End" is displayed. In the original version, this "The End" is instead briefly displayed at the end over the shot of Bruce walking away.
Japanese version 68.7 sec (= 1:09 min) longer
In the bonus material, you can also find a credit variation with English titles.