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Game of Death

Comparison:

  • Mandarin Version (Arrow Video)
  • Chinese Version
Release: Aug 23, 2023 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the Mandarin Version and the Chinese Version (both included on the "Alternate Versions" bonus disc in the British 4K UHD set from Arrow Video)

  • 6 Differences
  • Difference: 36.2 seconds [excluding logos]

In the British 4K UHD box set "BRUCE LEE AT GOLDEN HARVEST" by Arrow Video, we've already summarized the essential details in the report for the Mandarin Cut of the first film THE BIG BOSS and in the report for FINAL GAME OF DEATH. It's practically a must-buy for die-hard fans, especially due to these two significant alternate versions.

As we mentioned in the aforementioned report about the reconstructed original material, the infamous title exists in several versions. Besides the international standard version, there's some alternate material to discover in the Japanese version and three significantly shorter Asian alternative versions are also included on Disc 2 by Arrow. We have already introduced the Cantonese version in more detail; here we focus on the Mandarin version, which was shown in theaters in Taiwan.

Don't be misled: It's by no means as exciting as the "Mandarin Cut" of Big Boss. To a large extent, this version is similar to the heavily divergent "Chinese" version. Just like in the Cantonese version, however, the ending has been replaced with the harbor scene and the fight against Ji Han-jae has been reinserted. Once again, the devil is in the details with the latter, as there are small differences here as well compared to all other versions. Even the opening credits differ and highlight the Asian crew members more prominently. It's a bit questionable whether this should have been the case for the Chinese and Cantonese versions as well. What ultimately quasi-disqualifies this version are numerous cuts in the fight between Bruce and Dan, which suspiciously resemble British censorship.

Already in the report for Final Game of Death there were so many different reconstructions of the original material that a numbered listing made sense. Here now is such an overview for the film versions as well:

1. International Original Version - 101:02 min (Arrow Video, main film on disc 1).
Was included on e.g. the US DVD first edition ("Master Collection"), laserdisc and VHS. Has been remastered by Arrow Video.
Often further censored on VHS on this basis, such as on the UK VHS or the German DVD.

2. International version of Fortune Star - 100:20 min (German Blu-ray from Universum).
Two minor differences in the fight between Bruce and Ji Han-jae. Already included on HKL's UK DVD and the US DVD reissue in the "Ultimate Collection", also on e.g. the Blu-rays in Germany, USA, France and Japan.

3. Japanese version - 99:51 min (Arrow Video, bonus on disc 1).
In principle very close to the two international versions, but with further/own deviations in the fight between Bruce and Ji.

4. Chinese version (= Singapore theatrical release) - 89:35 min (Arrow Video, main feature on disc 2).
Shortened by almost 20 minutes for the Asian release, including the complete fight between Bruce and Ji. At the same time, though, there are just under 9 minutes of additional material included here, most famously the greenhouse fight with Casanova Wong. This version has an alternate ending where Bruce is arrested. Was included, for example, on the old Hong Kong DVDs of Megastar and Universe or as a bonus on the Japanese DVD, each in PAL speed. In the case of Arrow, it forms the "main film" of the bonus disc, which is in HD throughout.

5. Cantonese version (= Hong Kong theatrical release) - 92:22 min (Arrow Video, bonus on disc 2).
Similar in principle to #4, but the fight between Bruce and Ji has been reinserted here in the first half of the film, again changing it a bit. Before that there is a small scene that can exclusively be seen here. In addition, one finds yet again another alternative ending, in which Bruce flees with the ship into the freedom.

6. Mandarin version (= Taiwan theatrical release) - 90:11 min (Arrow Video, bonus on disc 2).
Basically similar to #4, but with the same ship/freedom ending as #5. The fight between Bruce and Ji has been reinstated in the correct place in the finale, but actually another time with a few minor differences. Also, the previous fight against Dan Inosanto is heavily censored in nunchaku shots.

Runtime indications follow the schema:
Mandarin Alternate Version from Arrow Video​ at 23.976fps / Chinese Version from Arrow Video at 23.976fps

The opening credits following the identical Golden Harvest logo differ. It's noticeable how the focus here is more on the Asian crew members. Subtitles for the Chinese theme song are also displayed.

No difference in runtime

Mandarin VersionChinese Version (Main Film)



75:58 / 75:58-77:20

After Bruce takes out his nunchakus, he twirls them around a bit. Dan does the same. The fight begins, and Dan takes a few hits. The Mandarin version resumes when he comes to a pause after some more spinning.

82.2 seconds (= 1:22 min)



Alternative
76:08-76:09 / 77:30-77:32

While you would see Bruce handling the nunchakus again, the Mandarin version inserts a closer shot of screaming Bruce (mirrored/recycled from the end of the previous cut).

Mandarin Version 0.5 seconds longer

Mandarin VersionChinese Version (Main Film)



76:12 / 77:35-77:55

Dan takes out his nunchakus again and twirls them around. Bruce defends against an attack. There's more dancing around, and Bruce lands another hit.

19.8 seconds



76:16 / 77:59-78:16

Dan remains on the ground longer and struggles to get up. Bruce then attacks him, wraps the nunchakus around his neck, and breaks his neck. Just before he drops the nunchakus, the Mandarin version resumes.

16.9 seconds



Mandarin Version longer
76:22-78:58 / 78:22-78:25

In the Mandarin version, Bruce is shown going up the stairs and encountering Ji there. Curiously, this is again edited differently than in all other versions.

The beginning is similar to the international version: Ji is seen a bit longer than in the JP version, which cuts this shot earlier. Ji moves to the side - and the alternative shot of Bruce is shown, where he looks rather unaffected. This is familiar from the DVDs/Blu-rays of the international version by Fortune Star.



Then it gets curious, as the Mandarin version also shows the camera movement towards the talking Ji and the cut back to Bruce. This is known from the JP version. Afterward, Ji's view from the international version is shown as well, zooming in on his hand. Thus, the Mandarin version at this point combines both the material from the international and the Japanese versions.



From this point on, the fight proceeds identically to the international and JP versions.

At the end, it gets interesting once again. First, you see (consistent with the alternative shot of Bruce at the beginning = Fortune Star version) a few additional frames where Bruce steps aside, completely obscured by the post. However, afterward, a moment is missing, as Bruce stands a bit closer to the stairs at this point. In this regard, the Mandarin version is even shorter than all other versions. Here are the consecutive shots.


Contrasting this, the Chinese version at this point starts much earlier with the shot of Bruce on his way to the stairs. The identical remainder is also shown side by side: the Chinese version (because the shot was taken completely from another source due to the exclusive material at the beginning of the shot) is slightly zoomed and has lower image quality than the Mandarin version, which uses the restored image from the international version.

Mandarin VersionChinese Version (Main Film)


Mandarin Version 152.7 seconds (= 2:33 min) longer

Alternative
88:51-89:42 / 88:18-89:06

In the Mandarin version, Billy then continues up the stairs, and you see Dr. Land's body once again. Then it transitions smoothly to a scene at the harbor, where Billy bids farewell to Marshall. However, a song plays here, so no words can be understood even though Marshall visibly moves his mouth. Together with Ann, Billy boards a ship. The ship departs, with a long shot featuring a photo of the real Bruce displayed on the right side. The lyrics are also displayed in the fixed subtitles.

This matches 1:1 with the Cantonese version and is not illustrated again.

In the Chinese version, instead, the alternative ending described in the comparison between the Chinese and international versions is shown, where Billy is arrested. In the international version, this is followed by a direct transition to the end credits, styled like the opening credits.

Mandarin Version 3 seconds longer