Comparison between the incomplete "Mandarin Export Cut" on Vinegar Syndrome's U.S. Blu-ray and Vidi's Taiwan VHS (the latter largely identical in content to 88 Films' U.K. Blu-ray).
Also, various master errors under 0.5 sec and 8 cuts on the Taiwan VHS with a duration of 43 sec as well as additional credits deviations
But let's take a step back first: as early as 2021, it was clear in international forums that 88 Films would bring the iconic actioner Righting Wrongs (aka Above the Law) starring Yuen Biao and Cynthia Rothrock as an HD premiere with all three known cut versions. However, 88 Films' UK Blu-ray, which will be available in October 2022 after several postponements, was then surprisingly preceded by the American Blu-ray of Vinegar Syndrome in July 2022. All three versions are on board here as well, but as we reported, the Vinegar Syndrome version has some editing errors. On the 88 Films release, these will (presumably) all be fixed. It can be assumed that this was the first version delivered by Hong Kong rights holder Fortune Star, and 88 Films put some further work in it after comparing it with older original releases.
This problem of deviating reconstructions is known at Fortune Star e.g. also from Dragon Lord or Millionaires' Express. A few years earlier there was something similar with the French DVD of John Woo's The Killer. And unfortunately The Iceman Cometh is now also such a case. Before 88 Films' Blu-ray release in the UK on November 14, 2022, Vinegar Syndrome released the title out of the blue in late September 2022 with the theatrical version and a longer "Mandarin Export Cut". Annoyingly, however, the latter is just a strange "random stuff thrown back in" version. After all, almost five minutes of material from the Taiwan version has been added compared to the theatrical version, but another six minutes of material is missing for whatever reason.
Quite obviously the theatrical version was the basis here, as you can see from a few scenes recut only in the Taiwan version. First, it was noted in the Blu-ray.com forum on the release of 88 Films that they had sent the missing material from the Taiwan VHS to Fortune Star for review and Fortune Star then actually found the missing material as well and scanned in HD. Shortly thereafter, they also confirmed in a Facebook post with explicit mention of the 127-minute running time that the Taiwan version would be on board - while the Mandarin Export Cut of Vinegar runs for "only" 122 minutes.
We do not yet have the Blu-ray from 88 Films. When it is released, we will of course compare it more closely with the Taiwan VHS as well. The Taiwan VHS again runs only 125 minutes, but also features just under a minute of its own missing moments. Also, the HD master of Vinegar's Extended has a minute more of opening credits at the beginning, which probably explains the remaining difference between the 125 minutes of the Taiwan VHS and the 127 minutes of 88 Films. As a final conclusion, the long version(s) of the film are sort of just a bonus for fans anyway. The theatrical version and the other features of Vinegar Syndrome are also absolutely sufficient and recommendable in themselves. But those who are interested in the long version will surely want to see the longest possible version.
For starters, references to Fortune Star vs Vidi.
Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray 15.5 sec longer
00:53-01:00 / 00:38
The Johnny Mak production logo builds up earlier on the HD master.
+ 7.4 sec
01:12-02:13 / 00:50
Interestingly, only the "Mandarin Export Cut" of Vinegar Syndrome (hereafter sometimes called "HD-Extended") now has the entire opening credits on a black background. The version therefore runs significantly longer than both the theatrical version and the Taiwan VHS right from the start.
+ 60.3 sec (= 1:00 min)
On the Taiwan VHS this came, as well as in the theatrical version, over the footage of the first scene of the film afterwards.
Note: While the HD theatrical version has the credits over this scene as well, they have been repositioned. The old British DVD started during the same shots as the Taiwan VHS, while the credits in the HD master now already start a bit earlier.
And to complicate things further: Some additional credits are found within the Taiwan cut which in principle are the same on the HD Export cut.
Taiwan VHS cut
03:33-03:34 / 02:10
A first shot of the approaching Feng San for now is shwon only in the HD version (as well as in the theatrical version).
+ 0.6 sec
04:18 / 02:54-03:03
Feng San appears again on the water, laughs and jumps away. Finally, you can see the princess lying in the water again.
Note: Here, the shot is also used that was seen in the theatrical/HD version about 40 sec earlier.
1.5 minutes later, there is at least the first longer scene extension (conversation between Fong and the prince), which is completely included in the HD Extended. The two additional bits with backstory to the Buddha shortly after are also included.
09:26 / 08:11-08:15
Fong walks away in another shot. Also another shot from a more distant perspective.
Taiwan VHS cut
10:15-11:02 / 09:04-09:51
The Taiwan version (= TW) lacks various optical effects here. The HD Extended uses the same "finished" image as the regular theatrical version.
At 16:55 / 15:44 and 21:53 / 20:41 the HD master lacks text inserts.
In the 19th/18th minute, it is noticeable that the Taiwan VHS had a blue filter during the briefing.
For comparison, here is the same moment from the theatrical version on the Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray and on the old British DVD from Hongkong Legends.
24:43 / 23:31-23:54
Towards the end of Fong's de-icing (before he opens his eyes), there is a small cutaway. Three men fool around a bit, then two women join them. The men are happy.
24:47 / 23:58-24:06
Another cutaway of celebration in the office before Fong raises his hand.
24:50 / 24:09-24:12
An additional shot of Fong's face.
24:57 / 24:19-24:33
The men in the cutaway are still celebrating as they walk outside to the car.
26:15 / 25:52-25:53
When the feet land on the ground in close-up, the previous shot is insignificantly longer in the TW.
28:16 / 27:53-27:54
A shot of Fong starts a bit earlier. Here he noddingly agrees with the statement of Santa Claus (Stanley Fung).
28:20 / 27:59-28:02
Fong looks to the side for a moment longer. Then another short shot of the homeless man (Corey Yuen) lurking in a corner.
29:13 / 28:54-28:58
Fong briefly flips through the history book that Corey Yuen has put in his hand.
However, the similarly brief moment just 3 sec later where Polly discusses something longer with the crooks is curiously included.
Taiwan VHS cut
30:24-30:25 / 30:09
In the theatrical version and thus also in the HD master, Polly is seen insignificantly longer (not illustrated). The dialog extension of the Taiwan version that follows at this point is included in the HD Extended.
+ 1.4 sec
The scene in the 42nd minute (a segment about someone with superpowers on TV) is included.
Taiwan VHS cut
43:17-43:19 / 43:00
Missing in TW: Fong leans down a little longer to the TV.
+ 2.6 sec
43:21 / 43:02-43:12
On the other hand, the following shot is much longer in TW: Fong recognizes the princess.
43:38 / 43:29-43:31
A short additional scene on the TV.
43:44 / 43:37-43:45
Fong longer processes what has become of the Ming Dynasty.
Taiwan VHS 7.2 sec longer
Taiwan VHS cut
43:54-43:59 / 43:55-43:56
Before Fong closes the book, a close-up of the page is briefly shown. In the TW version, the shot from above runs through in one and is thus insignificantly longer in the middle (not illustrated).
Vinegar Syndrome 3.6 sec longer
44:25 / 44:22-44:29
The scene on the TV runs a little longer, then Fong whimpers for forgiveness earlier.
Taiwan VHS cut
46:04-46:21 / 46:08
Somewhat longer miss in TW: Polly crosses her legs and takes out a cigarette. Fong hands her a lighter, but holds it upside down. Polly takes it from his hand, lights the cigarette and smokes with pleasure.
+ 16.8 sec
The extension at the beginning of the conversation between Polly and Cheong is included.
47:23 / 47:10-47:11
Asked about yesterday's altercation, the pimp reacts defensively at the end of the shot.
An extension in the 52nd minute (Fong asks again that men are always superior to women) is included. Also various scenes afterwards with Polly and Fong are extended identically to the Taiwan VHS.
60:32-61:05 / 60:19 bzw. 60:50-61:44
A scene exclusive to the Extended Cut (with Polly and a suitor) was pushed forward a bit in the HD version and comes here right after her first scene with another suitor. Actually, you can see Fong waiting outside in between.
However, the scene in the HD version already ends with Fong jumping out of the window. After that, there is actually a monologue by Polly.
Taiwan VHS 20.7 sec longer
Taiwan VHS cut
63:02-63:03 / 63:10
Before Feng San throws the can, TW is missing a few insignificant frames.
+ 1.5 sec
65:53 / 66:00-67:07
Unfortunately, a longer additional scene is completely missing here: Fong cooks something for Polly's guests, but reads as well. When he is supposed to serve the dishes, Polly grumbles that he did everything wrong. The girls then have all kinds of exotic food requests for him.
66.4 sec (= 1:06 min)
66:48 / 68:01-68:13
A woman at the table makes another comment about Fong: One would have to be careful regarding how fast he learns the language.
73:05 / 74:30-74:49
Fong is first seen driving around in the cab for a bit, thinking about whether he should continue to take care of Polly.
73:54 / 75:37-75:42
Feng San throws something at Polly earlier.
78:32 / 80:21-80:23
Feng San makes another comment at the end of the shot.
Taiwan VHS cut
81:41-81:47 / 83:32
Feng San is seen significantly longer in the theatrical version and therefore also the HD Extended. The follow-up shot of Polly also starts insignificantly earlier.
+ 6.4 sec
Taiwan VHS cut
82:54-82:56 / 84:39
The shot of Feng San in the car starts a little earlier in KF.
+ 1.8 sec
88:45 / 90:27-90:28
Fong stays on the ground for a moment longer.
How Polly is questioned by the policeman directly afterwards is included. Also the shot of the monitors one minute later is included.
91:40 / 93:23-93:26
Fong again specifies that Polly is a prostitute.
An additional shot of Polly whimpering a minute later is in again....
93:21 / 95:08-95:24
...but the next one is missing again: She asks for forgiveness much longer. Fong remains motionless.
93:39 bzw. 96:36-99:16 / 95:42-98:22
In the TW, you can already see here how Feng San buys weapons. This actually comes about 3 minutes later, after the hospital scene and Feng San's brief look at the TV.
No runtime difference
How Polly has a longer conversation with the nurse in the hallway right after is included.
95:28 / 100:11-100:22
Another shot of Feng San roaming the hospital and one of Fong on the hospital bed.
95:54 / 100:48-101:01
More shots of Polly. A nurse makes an announcement and Feng San rushes to the stairwell.
96:13 / 101:21-101:32
At the end of the scene, two nurses are talking a bit.
101:37-101:44 / 104:15-104:36
The first shots in the accommodation were tightened and mounted differently. How Polly chops wood actually comes over half a minute later in Taiwan. There is also a first exterior shot in the Taiwan VHS, as well as a shot of Polly cooking. After she is seen fetching water, as in the normal version, she walks with it longer towards the house.
Taiwan VHS 13.5 sec longer
102:05 / 104:58-105:12
Fong looks at his sword in further shots. In between, Polly is chopping wood. At last we also see the shot of her, which was already used in the regular cut half a minute ago (= last picture).
102:30 / 105:37-105:48
Polly watches Fong dump more water over his head in slow motion.
102:51 / 106:09-106:56
Fong takes another bath and hides in the water when Polly comes in. She tries to calm him down and then leaves. Finally, a shot at night: Fong sits guarding Polly's bed.
How Fong touches his sword afterwards is also tightened by 1.3 sec in two places in quick succession.
103:02 / 107:08-107:13
Fong prepares his sword for a longer time.
4.5 minutes later, a shot of Fong is longer like on VHS.
108:41 / 112:52-112:57
Some more dialogue before Feng San tries to use his guns.
Shortly after, a little additional rolling around of Fong and Feng San is included.
109:14 / 113:30-113:31
Fong is pressed against the grid.
A minute later, several further bits of swordplay are now happily in.
110:30-110:35 / 114:47-114:52
In the TW, optical effects are missing again when the sword hits the power box.
Taiwan VHS cut
112:07-112:09 / 116:24
Fong is still catching his breath at the end of the shot. The follow-up shot of Feng San also starts insignificantly earlier.
+ 2 sec
112:29-113:07 / 116:44-117:22
In the TW optical effects are missing again.
Half a minute later, two mini-bits of the Taiwan VHS are included.
114:00 / 118:14-118:17
Feng San gives Fong another knee blow at the end of the shot. Fong lands on the glass sculpture and Feng San runs at him a little earlier.
Amerkung: The regular version then starts in the middle of Feng San's jump, so that this movement matches the moment when the cut started earlier in closer perspective.
114:51 / 119:09-119:11
Fong poses again for a moment.
114:52 / 119:11-119:13
After a shot of Feng San, another shot from the same perspective is missing.
115:07 / 119:28-119:29
A side view of Feng San and Fong starts a little earlier (after a brief moment missing just before as well).
115:13 / 119:35-119:39
Feng San can be seen for a moment longer. Then a cut to Fong and Feng San runs towards him in close-up.
115:18 / 119:44-119:45
Feng San holds Fong for a moment longer.
116:03 / 120:30-120:31
Before Feng San reaches for the shard of glass, Fong is seen a moment longer.
117:16-118:24 / 121:44-122:52
In the TW, optical effects are missing again.
118:24 / 122:52-122:53
Polly can be seen a little earlier.
Alternativ / Taiwan VHS cut
118:27-118:36 / 122:56-122:59
Polly is seen in the TW without interruption and also a little longer in the middle. The theatrical version changes in between again to the long shot, in which Fong in the middle of the picture now dissolves.
Vinegar Syndrome 6.1 sec longer
The end credits roll a bit slower in the HD version which accounts for roughly one more minute in favor of the HD version.