General Pang Qing Yun is the only survivor of an army being beaten by the Taiping Rebels. Lian, a woman who gave off heat to him at night and vanished into thin air the following morning, crosses his path on his way back. In the morning, he meets a group of bandits (one of them is Jiang Wu Yang) and joins them. Having arrived at the bandits' village, he meets Lian again. She's the wife of the leader Zhao Er Hu. After the village was being attacked by the army, Pang can persuade the bandits to join the imperial army. Before that, Qing Yun, Er Hu and Wu Yang swear a blood oath.
The movie was being announced as a remake of The Blood Brothers by Chang Cheh and is also based on the same story (The Assassination of Ma). It's no surprise that the movie only have the basics of the story in common because an eastern couldn't be expected.
The Warlords is quite sinister and lives from the two leading actors Jet Li und Andy Lau. In opposite to that, Takeshi Kaneshiro as third blood brother and Xu Jing Lei are colorless.
Due to the fact that an Asian 2-hour-production is hard to promote on the international market, Producer Andre Morgan decided to modify the movie.
Director Peter Chan Ho Sun wasn't amused about that, but he wasn't able to change Morgan's mind.
Compared to the Hong Kong Version, the new version contains almost 500 differences. Sounds like a desaster at first, but it sounds worse than it actually is. The new version is still watchable. It focuses more on the conflict between Pang Qing Yun and Zhao Er Hu.
Most of the modifications are smaller cuts oder extensions of the beginning / ends of the scenes in both versions.
The most noticeable difference is the changed order of some scenes, e.g. the attack of the Taiping Rebels happens right after the meeting of Jiang Wu Yang and Pang Qing Yun in the Hong Kong Version, whereas it happens before the first appearance of the war council in the International Version. As a result of that, the reason for the attack is different (HK: groceries / IV: accession gift for the war council). The way Pang and Zhao Er Hu meet for the first time is different as well. Another difference is the becoming aware of Pang's motives because the conviction of the rapists takes directly place after the battle of Shu in the International Version.
Furthermore there are smaller differences in the order of the scenes, different image details and besides the translated text, some new text has been added as well.
The usage of the color filter, which is supposed to make it look "filthier", has been reduced.
Compared are the German DVD (International Version) by NEW KSM and the HK Special Edition by Mega Star.
To make it clearer, the comparison has been split up. There aren't screens for any small difference and the uncountable mini cuts are being presented in smaller letters.
The parts with the lovely edging could have been split up as well, but it didn't seem appropiate to me.
The time index refers to the International Version.
The text has been taken from the current subs, that's why there are tiny differences (e.g. Nanking – Nanjing).
Here an example for the different texts:
Running time NEW KSM = 01:48:53 (01:46:10 credits excluded)
Running time Mega Star = 02:05:39 (02:02:15 credits excluded)
Used abbreviations in this comparison:
HKV = HK Version
IV = International Version
Finally two more things: the in Hong Kong released Director's Edition does not contain the Director' Cut. Moreover I can't promise that all differences have been found. Maybe a frame here or there is missing.
Please note that a very few comments have been retranslated from German into English. That's why a slight difference in the choice of words is possible. Thanks for understanding.
Extended shot of the blood brothers looking at the yard.
Zhao turns the head slightly more around.
IV: +0.96 sec
The clamoring captives (rebels) demand more bread, Pang looks more grimly in the IV plus missing shots of Wu Yang, Zhao and Jin Biao.
IV: Jin Biao longer.
HKV: Zhao earlier.
IV: 0.6 sec
HKV: 0.25 sec
Now the beforehand-removed shot of Wu Yang after Zhao turns his head.
The HKV contains a shot of Pang instead.
Pang lowers the arm.
IV: +0.24 sec
IV: The captives and Jin Biao earlier.
HKV: Er Hu longer sideways.
IV: 0.2 sec
HKV: 0.25 sec
Pang gets directly hit by Jin Biao's bread here, happens later in the IV.
Now Pang gets also hit by Jin Biao's bread in the IV after the rebels threw their bread. Moreover the IV contains further footage of Zhao and Jin Biao.
Shot of Pang's front when he tears the second bread apart. The HKV contains the shot of the blood brothers on the wall instead.
IV: 1.44 sec
HKV: 1.38 sec
IV: Wu Yang longer sideways.
HKV: Pang earlier.
IV: 0.4 sec
HKV: 3.38 sec
IV: Zhao earlier before he whips the bread out of Pang's hand.
HKV: Additional shot of Zhao at the beginning plus Pang longer.
IV: 0.16 sec
HKV: 4.55 sec
More Wu Yang.
More of leaving Pang.
IV: Zhao longer.
HKV: Pang earlier.
IV: 0.32 sec
HKV: 1.5 sec
Zhao looks at Wu Yang.
Extended shot of Wu Yang's face.
Zhao looks at Wu Yang in an outraged way.
Earlier beginning of the shot of Wu Yang's back.
Extended shot of Pang on the wall plus a shot of the yard full of rebels.
The aiming bowmen.
IV: 2 more frames of Jin Biao.
HKV: The soldiers step back later.
IV: 0.08 sec
HKV: 0.46 sec
IV: The bowmen bending their bows.
HKV: Additional shot of the bowmen (also in the IV, see the following cut).
IV: 0.36 sec
HKV: 1.21 sec
Here the IV contains the before-mentioned footage from the HKV before Jin Biao calls for silence. The shot of Jin Biao is different when he screams.
Missing shot of the soldiers picking up Zhao and passing by Wu Yang silently. In the meantime Wu's voice.
"From that day on Er Hu never said another word to me. It hurts, but big brother was right."
Earlier shot of the yard gate in the IV.
IV: 2 sec
HKV: 32.32 sec
IV: Extended shot of Zhao kneeling down plus Wu Yang deep in thought (here the above-mentioned sentence has been reinsert).
HKV: The soldiers start tossing the bodies into the ditch.
Zhao and the former bandits look at the soldiers while they are burying the rebels.
Zhao gets up.
IV: Zhao walks down the dune earlier.
HKV: Zhao's back longer.
Both after he asked who wanted to go home with him.
IV: 1.24 sec
HKV: 1.5 sec
Er Hu keeps on walking.
While going down, the HKV contains a close-up of Zhao. The IV sticks with the shot before.
IV: 0.32 sec
HKV: 2.29 sec
Missing shot of Wu Yang after Pang's arrival.
IV: 0.04 sec
HKV: 2 sec
IV: Zhao earlier.
HKV: Wu Yang longer.
IV: 0.28 sec
HKV: 1 sec
Again Wu Yang longer.
Now Zhao longer.
IV: Zhao earlier and longer.
HKV: Pang longer before the cut to Zhao.
IV: 1.6 sec
HKV: 0.29 sec
Er Hu more thoughtful.
Lu Da-Shan pulls the sword out way further.
Different shots are being used at the moment Wu Yang gets in front of Er Hu.
Extended shot of Wu Yang's face in the IV. Lu Da-Shan puts the blade away plus the shot of nodding Pang is only in the IV.
IV: Wu Yang looks earlier at Zhao.
HKV: Pang looks at both of them longer.
IV: 0.12 sec
HKV: 0.13 sec
IV: Wu Yang looks longer at Zhao.
HKV: The following scene starts earlier.
IV: 0.88 sec
HKV: 0.92 sec
Extended shot of the three blood brothers.
IV: +0.44 sec
Again Er Hu and Wu Yang looking at each other.
IV: +0.16 sec
Extended distance shot of the men kneeling down.
Pang looking up.
IV: +0.36 sec
Missing opera actors from the IV when Nanjings is being conquered plus the footage has been replaced. No further combat actions in the IV, Shan's army marches in immediately.
Missing text due to the vanished actors:
"We...Zhao Er Hu...Pang Qing-Yun...Jiang Wu Yang...three brothers as one...Attack!"
OSD instead of the text in the IV: (Nanking, 3 Days Later).
2 more frames of the firework.
The firework ends differently. The IV leaves the castle and shows the night sky with the rockets one more time.
IV: 1.08 sec
HKV: 1.13 sec
Extended shot of the horses' legs plus an OSD from that point: (One month after the capture of Nanking).
Further soldiers in the streets after the shot of the soldiers' backs. The HKV contains a shot of working people instead.
IV: +0.12 sec
1 more frame of the hint.
Missing impressions of the city before the haircut. The IV contains an extended shot of the man with the umbrella passing by.
IV: 0.28 sec
HKV: 3.17 sec
Different footage during the memory to the deceased.
Close-up of the head getting shaved in the IV, then Pang and Wu Yang. Not until then Er Hu.
The HKV lacks the close-up of the head, instead Zhao after the haircut. Not until then the two others (including the soldiers from 01:19:43 in the IV).
The shots of the rice bowls are different, too.
Er Hu drinks up.
IV: +0.24 sec
The soldiers lower their arms.
IV: +0.64 sec
Er Hu claims the Shan army to thank General Pang. In the IV, they are jist looking at each other.
Zhao earlier (before he brings the bowl to his mouth).
Er hu looks after Pang, noises of the payment in the background.
IV: +5.12 sec
The horseman's arrival at Kuei is missing.
Ho Kuei puts down the bowl at the beginning of the conversation i the HKV. He brings the bowl to his mouth in the IV.
Er Hu hits Kuei's vassals one more time.
And another hit.
Additional shot of Wu Yang following before Lian reaches the ship in the IV.
Wu Yang moves on.
Extended shot of Wu Yang looking in the direction of the ship (Pang).
The ship earlier.
IV: +0.24 sec
Pang and the ship longer.
More footage of the stairs.
IV: +0.6 sec
The continuation of the ship is longer.
Wu Yang looks at Pang and the other way around.
Cut to Beijing (including the shot of Wu Yang) in the IV after Pang closed the window.
Extended shot of Wu Yang in the HKV plus an additional shot of the emperor's palace.
IV: Pang longer.
HKV: Lord Di earlier.
IV: 0.24 sec
HKV: 0.21 sec
Cut to the following scene (Pang on ice) in the IV after the conversation between Lord Chen and Lord Di.
Pang's feet on ice earlier.
Wu Yang's nightmare, where he finally holds Er Hu's head in his hands, is missing.
Different image section of Zhao when he watches Lian.
Sitting Zhao longer.
Zhao sideways earlier.
Er Hu goes in Lian's direction.
IV: +0.44 sec
Lian's face longer.
During the conversation between the Pang's servant and Wu Yang, the question ("Why have they replaced all the guards?") is missing plus the shot of them is longer.
Extended shot of arriving Lu Da-Shan in the IV, followed by different image sections of Er Hu.
IV: 2 sec
HKV: 1.46 sec
Er Hu earlier.
IV: +0.24 sec
Er Hu longer.
Wu Yang in the hallway of Pang's appartment.
IV: Wu Yang looks around after the opening of the door.
HKV: Shot of Wu Yang's back after the door was opened.
IV: 1.84 sec
HKV: 1.46 sec
Extended shot of them looking at each other before Wu Yang opens the door of Pang's hideout.
Shot of the door being opened.
Extended shots of Wu Yang and Pang.
Still Wu Yang.
2 more frames of Wu Yang.
Extended shot of Wu Yang looking in Lian's direction after she recognized him (slightly different image section here as well).
IV: 1.72 sec
HKV: 3 sec
Some more frames of Lian and Wu Yang.
The camera remains in front of the door, then Pang at the table.
Zhao keeps on riding.
Er Hu looking around.
Missing shot of Er Hu before Pang says he wanted to report to Er Hu any year.
2 more frames of Zhao falling.
The following shot starts slightly earlier.
Extended shot of Pang plus an earlier beginning of the following shot.
Missing shot of Er Hu getting up again after he got hit (only the beginning in the IV) plus Pang's text is sligthly different. In the IV, he only talks about the massacre in Suzhou and the two rapists aren't being mentioned.
IV: "Sooner or later you'll realize the 4000 soldiers didn't die for nothing."
HKV: "You'll understand eventually that Xiao-Qi and Gouzi didn't die in vain and the massacre of the 4000 captives was necessary."
More of Pang.
Extended shot of crumpling Er Hu.
Er Hu's attempt to get up.
Still Er Hu and the beginning of the following scene is longer.
Slightly extended shot of Zhao at the beginning.
Pang struggles for words before he continues to speak.
Different image sections when Zhao calls for General Ho. No shot of the arrow in the IV.
Another shortened beginning (Zhao challenges the General to come out).
Missing beginning of the shot (Pang starts weeping).
The IV lacks Er Hu's rising up again.
Pang a couple of frames earlier.
And now Pang a little longer.
The part in which Wu Yang knocks at the gate and tells Pang that he did not have to kill Er Hu anymore was shortened.
At the beginning, Pang looking across the table and holding the cloth in front of his eyes is missing and at the end he is crying longer.
Wu Yang is kneeling a tiny bit longer in front of Er Hu. Then he slides on his knees forward and back again. The IV only shows him going backwards.
The side view of the huddled Wu-Jangs starts earlier.
The soldiers march continue to through the streets.
IV: +0,24 sec
Shortened beginning of the scene.
The IV shows the view of the marching soldiers whereas the HKV shows the warriors' shoes.
IV: 1,44 sec
HKV: 4,34 sec
The group walks on.
IV: +0,68 sec
On the way to the inauguration there are pictures of the people at the side of the street missing.
Pang gets off his horse. (The end of the scene is included in the IV enthalten).
The close up of the knife is missing.
Wu Yang continues to look to Pang.
He now tries to hit Pang once again. In the IV he ducks more at the end.
IV: 0,28 sec
HKV: 0,96 sec
Pang kicks earlier.
The falling Wu Yang can be seen earlier.
More shots of Wu Yang attacking Pang with the knife.
The knife can be seen longer in front of Pang's face.
Missing beginning of the scene.
The HKV shows Wu Yang slashing at Pang again after the close up of the arm being hit.
Wu Yang jumps towards Pang again.
The IV contains a short part of this scene (with a different part of the picture).
Two frames are missing at the beginning of the scene.
Additional shot of Pang approaching Wu Yang.
Wu Yang is stumbling backwards longer and there are a few frames of Pang missing at the beginning of the next scene.
The scene runs longer and the enxt one starts earlier (Wu Yang gets up/Pang's face).
Additional shot of Wu Yang before he attacks Pang again.
The bleeding Wu Yang can be seen longer and the next scene starts earlier.
Pang can be seen slightly longer.
Wu Yang gets up again.
Two more pictures of Wu Yang stabbing.
Takeshi Kaneshiro is shown longer.
Pang looks down to Wu Yang.
Jiang hits Pang more often.
Before Wu Yang's arm is being broken, the IV only shows Pang's face whereas the HKV contains an additional hit by Wu Yang and another shot of Pang.
IV: 1,68 sec
HKV: 3,75 sec
Longer scene endinge. (Pang goes away)
The scene starts earlier. (Pang from behind).
After Pang turns around to face Wu Yang (who called), there are a few changes in the order of the scenes. The raising of the gun is missing as well as some frames of Wu Yang walking forwards.
The bullet wound in Pang's back can be seen earlier.
The beginning of the next scene is longer (Wu's face).
The scene starts earlier (Wu Yang takes his knife).
During the second salute, the picture has been mirrored and there is a small rearrangement afterwards. The IV contains an additional shot.
The scene has been lengthened (Wu Yang's face).
As soon as Wu Yang has stabbed Pang a second time, the HKV shows Pang's back and after that the cannons. For the IV this has been switched. The cannons are mirrored again.
Pang pushes himself up again.
Wu Yang looks longer to Pang.
The scene in which Pang dies has been lengthened.
When Wu Yang turns his head aside, there are different shots used in the different versions (IV: longer scene ending/ HKV: beginning of the next scene).
IV: 0,12 sec
HKV: 0,21 sec
Jiang looks longer to Pang again.
Another shot of the dying Pang is longer.
The IV ends with another sentence by Wu Yang and shows the text overlay instantly.
Wu Yang: „He was right. In this time it was easy to die and had to survive.”
At the end of the HKV, Wu Yang remembers the day of the blood oath, it can be seen before the last text overlay.
Wu Yang: „At that moment, my mind went back to the day we took the blood oath. We are born apart but we shall die as one.”
The oath: „Our origins are diffferent but our hearts act as one. In good times and bad...in lIVe and in death. We honor our pledge, with Heaven and earth as our witness. We shall live and die as blood brothers…”
The final texts are different as well. The day of death is different in the two versions (IV: 8 April/HKV: 26 Juli) and the execution of Wu Yang is not mentione in the IV. However, it was expanded by a sentence.
„On April 8th 1870, General Pang Qing-Yun was assassinated on the way to his inauguration as Governor of Nanking. General Pang’s murder remains one of the unsolved crimes of the Ching Dynasty.”
„Governor of Jiangsu, Pang Qing-Yun was assassinated on the 26th of July, 1870. His assassin Jiang Wu Yang was executed 2 month later.”
Different ending credits.