Comparison between the Export Cut Zu: Time Warriors and the uncut Hongkong original version (both included on the British Blu-ray from Eureka)
144 deviations, including
* 23 re-cuts
* 15x additional material in the export cut
* 10x alternative material
Difference without credits: 1:50 min
* approx. 38 minutes additional material in the original HK version
* approx. 36 minutes additional material in the Export Cut
A few additional master deviations with a duration of less than 0.5 sec each were not listed in the cut report.
The two verions of Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain
Tsui Hark is one of Hong Kong's most important directors/producers. From 1980's Don't Play With Fire up to trips to Hollywood with e.g. Double Team certainly his contribution to John Woo's A Better Tomorrow trilogy as well as his own A Chinese Ghost Story trilogy deservere a mention. The brightly colored fantasy madness Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, which was released in 1983, is still considered a cult film among Asia fans. With Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Brigitte Lin, Moon Lee and various other Hong Kong stars, the expensive spectacle also spots a prominent cast.
Up to now, for example, the British DVD from Hong Kong Legends or the DVD from Hong Kong were the usual sources of supply, but since 20th April 2020 the HD premiere is available. In the UK, 88 films as well as Eureka! have been releasing new 2K/4K restorations of Asian classics for the first time for a while now, and in this case Eureka! has grabbed the license again. Once again, an extensive package of extras, various soundtracks and also versions was laced up.
Especially exciting is that besides the original version from Hong Kong, the alterate export cut called Time Warriors is included. Apart from various cuts and other adjustments this one really offers an added value for genre fans, because a completely new story with Yuen Biao in the present can only be found here. Moreover, you also have to know that Golden Harvest already edited the movie back then in Hong Kong in a rush and against Tsui Harks will. Therefore, several story elements couldn't be developed the way the director actually wanted it to be in the movie we got to know as "original version".
Allegedly, Zu was supposed to have already had such a story in the present, but this just didn't fit into the studio's schedule anymore. The corresponding post-shoots didn't really run under Hark's supervision and the following cuts surely didn't either. Therefore, we can already summarize at this point that the original version, which is better known all over the world, is to be preferred in the end, even though Hark wasn't completely satisfied with it. Time Warriors, first released in 1985, is above all a curious bonus and a nice example of how you can completely change a movie afterwards. In addition to various titles from Godfrey Ho's filmography, the Jackie Chan films The Master with Cracked Fingers and The Protector should be mentioned in this context.
Differences in the export cut Time Warriors
First of all, of course, one must mention what the new narrative framework actually consists of Yuen Biao falls in love with Moon Lee here in the present. In the main movie there are some smaller, but eventually unresolved flirtations between the two and so this now gets a love story foundation, with which the average viewer can identify more easily. Without a doubt, this is very clichéd and rather bumpy, as well as the obligatory fights with Gwailos in this context. In a rather adventurous way, a visit to a museum then establishes a connection to the historical plot. It's about half an hour of exclusive material with two well-known faces of Hong Kong cinema, which alone should satisfy fans. Admittedly, however, these are not scenes worth seeing that much.
Moreover, typical schemes of redesigning Asian films for the western market are noticeable: Scenes with typical silly humor have been extensively erased. Also typical Hong Kong editing, like e.g. duplicate shots shown from two perspectives for a more powerful impact, has been covered up here. In the original the movie is cut very hectic and fast, but curiously enough the cuts of the export version make it more quiet, or rather more "conventional". Infantile comedy between Yuen Biao, Mang Hoi and Moon Lee has been reduced to a minimum and so you won't see the two boys being undressed by the girls on the run, for example.
What's especially remarkable regarding longer cuts is that the meeting with Sammo Hung (in a second role as a soldier), which was introduced in the beginning and picked up again towards the end, has been completely removed. It's a pity for every Hong Kong fan that the obese fan favourite has less screentime. Especially the finale was edited extensively, anyway. Lady Li makes much less of an appearance, and the plot element that Sammo in his main role as "Longbrows" makes the soldiers skid on several occasions is almost incomprehensible.
The finale is also an example for several re-cuts in the export version, through which scenes are completely remounted and completely changed in their meaning. Confused side plots like the one with the various warriors or the whole mythology around the "twin swords" were simplified considerably. In between there are apparently some short exclusive shots, which we couldn't identify in any other part of the original version. Worth mentioning are additional color effects, whereby one can basically only speculate about their use (or the absence in the master of the original version).
Last but not least it should be mentioned that the export version of the movie has its very own English dubbing, where sometimes scenes around the characters offer additional simplified explainations. It's really a movie experience of its own all around, whose nuances couldn't be fully documented even by this extensive report. Either way, the scenes in this movie often remain difficult to put into words, Tsui Hark surely created a visual tour de force. Thanks to Eureka, a peculiar version of this movie gem has now been preserved for posterity in a respectable quality (not restored, but also in real HD).
Terms are arranged according to the scheme
Export version Blu-ray / Original version Blu-ray
After the Fortune Star logo you see a different version of the Golden Harvest logo.
00:55-01:42 / 00:54-02:06
The credit sequence that follows immediately after this can still be mentioned individually for two reasons.
With the Time Warriors version you see here mostly only texts on black background.
In the original version you will first see some mystical cloud shots instead.
For the following opening credits the British Blu-ray offers a choice in the menu between the actual original version of the credits from Asia or the version used for English evaluations. In the latter case the fade-ins flying through the picture freeze briefly each time.
Original version 24.5 sec longer
Additional Material in the Time Warriors cut
01:42-26:09 / 02:06
Time Warriors starts with Ti Ming (Yuen Biao) during fencing lessons. Another student (Tony) defeats someone quite clearly, whereupon Ti Ming emerges as the next sparring partner. After some initial skepticism Ti Ming goes for it and falls down after a few attacks at first, but then of course shows his skills. The trainer asks if he could do this permanently in the team and Ti Ming thinks that the control of these skills would not work out yet. A student friend (Josh) praises Ti Ming and his aunt is mentioned. She is a medium and Ti Ming would like to get an appointment with her.
After that you see Ti Ming in the university, he discusses his work on Chinese history with a professor. He points him to a recently opened exhibition with original showpieces from that time, which should give Ti Ming a better feeling for the circumstances of that time.
That's exactly where Ti Ming goes to have a look at everything. He is particularly fascinated by the image of a woman and in the evening, shortly before closing time, he still stands watching in the halls. Thereupon the curator addresses him that tomorrow they will close and he must now leave the premises.
Further on it goes outside near a bridge. Slimy Tony makes a rough pass at a woman who gives him the brush-off. Ti Ming watches and when he sees the woman (Moon Lee aka Mu Tsang) from closer up, he immediately feels reminded of the picture of the woman at the exhibition.
The next day Ti Ming goes to the exhibition again and sneaks past the guard. The curator is still inside and tells him about the legend behind the picture, a "classic Chinese love story". Ti Ming gets a catalogue in which the picture is printed again. He inquires what happened to the woman's lover and the curator thinks that the story may not be finished yet.
While jogging, Ti Ming discusses his new crush, Mu Sang, with Josh. Their paths finally part as Josh runs after another girl.
Near a gas station Ti Ming is told that his car is being towed here. But then he notices Mu Sang and approaches her. He mentions the picture and that he would like to show it to her. Now Tony comes along with two colleagues and after the usual macho behaviour he attacks Ti Ming. Ti Ming fends him off and a small chase through the park begins. Thanks to the clumsy Gwailos Ti Ming is only allowed to show a little bit of his skills, he beats the three of them.
Back at the car Mu Sang is still waiting for him there surprisingly. Ti Ming dares to grab her hand and takes her home with him. There Mu Sang is interested in a small sword, which Ti Ming pulls out of her hand so that she doesn't cut herself. Mu Sang uses this moment for a kiss and leads the whole thing over to the bed. They spend the night together.
The next morning the phone rings and Josh says he made an appointment with his aunt for Ti Ming. At the same time Ti Ming finds a note from Mu Sang, who has already left again and thinks that fate might bring them together again. Ti Ming looks through the curator's book and, in addition to the woman resembling Mu Sang, now also recognizes a man who looks like him.
This is followed by a visit to the medium, who immediately tells Ti Ming that certain forces would pull on him. He must have had a very important life, then as now a woman would have played a particularly important role in it. The woman reveals a few more cards and says that a collision of frightening proportions is imminent. However, someone would come to his aid whom he would have to trust. He draws three more cards and the woman explains that Ti Ming has to get used to special circumstances.
Ti Ming drives back to the gas station and asks the man there if he has seen the woman from yesterday. The guy says she was Japanese and Ti Ming corrects to Chinese. Anyway, there is no useful information and Ti Ming drives away.
In the night, Mu Sang suddenly appears out of nowhere in front of him. Ti Ming's car crashes down a slope due to him dodging her and this starts the historical dream sequence.
Ti Ming is still wearing his clothes from the present, but is located in a remote desert area. Slowly he walks around and looks at a sword in a small hut. We hear the voice of the medium again, according to her one cannot separate his past experiences from those of the present. He has to find his love from the past. There are first shots of riders, which were already taken from later scenes of the movie. Then one sees Ti Ming again in close-up, until he dives completely into the past.
total 1467.1 sec (= 24:27 min)