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Martial Club (Instructors of Death)

original title: Wu guan


  • Grindhouse Presentation
  • Original version
Release: Aug 08, 2022 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the cut US version Instructors of Death ("Grindhouse Presentation" in the bonus material of 88 Films' UK Blu-ray) and the original version (Celestial restoration or main feature of 88 Films' UK Blu-ray)

- 15 missing scenes
- Cut duration: 260.6 sec (= 4:21 min)

Also 10 "relevant" bits with a duration of 13.6 sec missing from the Celestial master

Several master errors with a duration of less than 0.5 sec each were not listed in the cut report.

Martial Club is a 1981 Shaw Brothers production Lau Kar Leung has once again masterfully directed, while in front of the camera Gordon Liu, Ku Feng and Johnny Wang, among others, demonstrate their skills. The Blu-ray premiere has been released in the UK and US in July 2022. As previously on DVD, an HD master restored by Celestial is the main version. Once again, there are some of the infamous "framecuts" here, which add up to around 2.5 minutes missing.

However, the bonus material also includes a "Grindhouse Presentation" with the alternative English title Instructors of Death. Here, a US theatrical print was scanned, which is also a bit of a sensation with this film. Previously, there was only a 100-minute bootleg VHS in full screen in circulation for English-speaking audiences, which was based on a TV broadcast. A picture comparison to this can be found on the forum by a user involved in the production of the Blu-ray. The original VHS was also provided for our comparison.

The English audio of the old US DVD of Tokyo Shock was also sourced from this VHS. The "Grindhouse Presentation" from 88 Films, on the other hand, uses a widescreen print of the US version from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Moving Image Archives, which runs a bit longer at ~105 minutes and thus has more original English dub to offer. Furthermore, there are no framecuts to complain about here. We've highlighted a few striking moments in the following report and also added some notes on how the old VHS was cut rather differently.

However, even that widescreen print wasn't complete, as about 4 minutes of scenes are missing compared to the Celestial master. Right at the opening credits sequence a larger piece is lost. Otherwise, there are many small missing moments around reel changes. In the second half of the film there's another longer missing scene of over two minutes long, including some fighting. Ultimately, the Celestial HD master remains the better choice despite framecuts. The most complete English audio was synched to the Celestial source too, and therefore the US theatrical "Grindhouse" sign is ultimately simply a charming bonus more than anything else.

Running time information is arranged according to
Grindhouse Cut Blu-ray / Original version Blu-ray

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There is, of course, no Celestial logo on the Grindhouse cinema reel scan. The introductory Shaw logo is also cut off at first.

+ 16.6 sec

00:09-00:11 / 00:26-00:37

Immediately after the rest of the Shaw logo, the Grindhouse 35mm scan has an English title card. This replaces a first wide shot and also the original title, which fades in at the beginning of the close-up of the lion dance.

Celestial version 9.6 sec longer

Grindhouse Presentation (US 35mm scan)Original version (Celestial restoration)

After that, there is another fade-in at the same rest of the shot only at the US 35mm scan. This also continues, despite additional cuts, through the following minutes.

Grindhouse Presentation (US 35mm scan)Original version (Celestial restoration)

Note: The US-VHS is clearly more cut right at the beginning, here Lau Kar-Leung doesn't even appear at all. The title insert and another note about Shaw Brothers are also seen here as an overlay for some the remaining shots instead. After that, there are the same English credits as on the Grindhouse 35mm scan - but with the image vertically stretched. The rest of the film is annoyingly zoomed to full screen, darkened quite a bit and generally horrible in quality, as the 4th screenshot shows.

01:46 / 02:11-02:14

After the lion dance intro, the first "real" scene begins a little earlier. The lion is lifted up.

2.8 sec

Celestial master cut
01:57-01:59 / 02:25

Here, the framecuts of Celestial's HD master become clearly noticeable for the first time: Actually, the pan from the men upwards starts a bit earlier.

+ 1.5 sec

Celestial master cut
02:48-02:49 / 03:13

Another small missing bit in the lion dance, which was only included once because it was just > 0.5 sec.

+ 0.6 sec

03:02 / 03:26-03:28

But shortly after that, there is also a missing moment in the grindhouse version.

2.4 sec

03:34 / 03:59-04:48

More shots of the lion dance. At the beginning there is the director's credit. When you see the choreography with movement outward from all participants, the grindhouse version is back in again.

48.6 sec

Note: The US VHS is, as mentioned, special and much more heavily cut overall. Lots of short dialogue bits are missing additionally throughout the film. But a few shots that are missing from the Grindhouse 35mm scan were included here. Especially the whole first sequence with the lion dance, however, was particularly strongly cut by a total of more than 5 minutes on the US VHS.

Celestial master cut
16:27-16:29 / 17:17

Again, a more noticeable framecut on the Celestial master: it's cut back earlier by the men.

+ 1.4 sec

Celestial master cut
17:55-17:57 / 18:43

Huang and Yinlin are seen in a close-up earlier in the 35mm scan. Extreme wear (see scuff at the bottom of the image) could be an indication why this beginning of the shot is missing from Celestial.

+ 1.5 sec

21:12 / 21:53-21:57

First reel change, as you could already see in the Grindhouse version from some wear and tear in the seconds before. Here, Yinlin and Juying are seen a bit longer and the follow-up shot of the two also starts earlier.

4 sec

25:11 / 25:54-25:56

Jumpcut when Huang is posing a bit.

2.1 sec

42:30 / 43:08-43:09

Jumpcut when Shan just tried to calm down the attackers.

1.4 sec

Note: When Yinlin is strangled by Shang in the 39th minute, the US VHS had a few longer cuts (including dialogue) that are not objectionable on the Grindhouse theatrical reel. So, like the intro sequence with Lau Kar-Leung, this is a good example of the, thanks to the theatrical reel source, soundtrack offering significantly more original English synchro compared to previous releases in the US.

Celestial master cut
42:37-42:38 / 43:16

Shortly after, the next reel change: Shan is attacked a bit longer in the Grindhouse version at the end of the shot.

+ 0.6 sec

At this point the US-VHS becomes particularly interesting, because actually this end of the shot is there again 1.2 sec longer. Shan kicks a guy to the left in the picture.

42:38 / 43:16-43:29

Still the same scene: In the Grindhouse version, conversely, something of the fight is also missing here, in which Shan then fights back and is attacked by Lu.

Note: The US VHS has only been cut on the first shot.

12.8 sec

Celestial master cut
43:30-43:31 / 44:19

Juying and the others come through the door a little earlier in the Grindhouse version....

+ 1.5 sec

Celestial master cut
43:34-43:36 / 44:22

...and a little longer the same shot as well.

+ 2.3 sec

Celestial master cut
49:15-49:18 / 49:47

The first shot in the courtyard begins much earlier here in the Grindhouse version: Yinlin struts past the women.

+ 3.4 sec

49:31 / 50:00

Jumpcut during the Grindhouse version, when Yinlin is just tensing his muscles.

0.8 sec
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