Comparison between the shortened British DVD by Eastern Heroes and the uncut British Blu-ray by 88 Films
Including 10 sec exclusive material on the Ocean Shores DVD
A few additional master errors with a duration of less than 0.5 sec each were not listed in the report.
We better not say too much about the cinematic quality of Jackie Chan's early work Spiritual Kung-Fu. There are a few nice fights and the white painted "ghosts" with bright red wigs have unquestionably a great trash appeal. Since October 26, 2020, there will be a release with better quality in Great Britain, because 88 Films has released this film in real HD as a new 2K restoration on Blu-ray for the first time.
Due to this release, we came across three unsolved cut situations that needed to be investigated. On the one hand, there was an alternative Korean video version, which is shortened by a few minutes, but also contains exclusive scenes. This is collected in one featurette on the British Blu-ray, similar to the 88 Films release of Heroes Shed No Tears. We will take a closer look at the complete VHS here. In addition, 88 Films has an "Alternate Shot" in the bonus material, which you could curiously find on two old DVDs abroad: The British DVD by Eastern Heroes and the Hong Kong DVD by Ocean Shores. Both of these old DVDs also have their own cuts.
Here, we dedicate ourselves to the old British DVD by Eastern Heroes. Here too, there is the alternative moment at the beginning of the film, where Jackie is knocked out with a little poison, while in the more well-known releases worldwide it is a slap in the face. Probably mainly due to the mastering, Eastern Heroes has many small flaws throughout the film. Mostly totally irrelevant, but at one point more than 40 seconds of fighting are lost. But regardless of the cuts, we can only strongly discourage anybody interested from buying this old DVD: The "remastered" picture quality is unacceptable and you'll rarely find such a crassly zoomed film version. More about this right at the beginning of the report.
Runtimes are ordered as follows: Eastern Heroes DVD in PAL / Hong Kong Legends DVD in PAL
Note: The comparison was made with the HKL DVD, but most screenshots were supplemented by the 88 Films-Blu-ray. These two versions are identical frame by frame, but the new Blu-ray naturally has a much better picture thanks to the 2K restoration.
The UK-DVD/-Blu-ray has (like most digital releases worldwide) the Fortune Star references to start with.
01:37 / 02:10-03:09
The first shot of Jackie after the opening credits is chopped off at the beginning.
03:33-03:36 / 04:08-04:15
Strange: While the regular version has a long shot of the court with the monks, the Eastern Heroes version shows the monastery in a closer view. Possibly even the same shot, but at the very top of the picture and much shorter.
Regular version 3,7 sec longer
Admittedly, the alternative shot is not extremely striking in this respect, because the whole film on the Eastern Heroes DVD is downright absurdly zoomed, thus creating a very unique image composition. The original full-screen master was here already closer than the Ocean Shores DVD from Hong Kong. But then on top of that, quasi by pan & scan with different focus on different parts of the picture, something was really cut off at all corners for a 16:9 picture. So only fragments of the actual 2.35:1 format are visible.
05:03-05:13 / 05:39-05:49
The curious alternative moment.
In the regular version, Jackie grabs his ear and slowly turns around. Behind him stands a masked guy and knocks him down with the edge of his hand.
On the Eastern Heroes DVD from the UK (and also the Hong Kong DVD from Ocean Shores) instead, some poison rises up next to his head and as the camera moves back a little, you see the attacker blowing this out of a pipe. Here, too, Jackie tips over to the ground.
No time difference
In the bonus material of the 88 Films release, the short scene can be found individually as "Alternate Shot". Fortunately, the material was saved from a Digibeta in the original image format.
10:37 / 11:08-11:10
At the end of the shot, Dean Shek signals to Jackie with a head movement that he should leave.
32:01 / 32:18-32:19
When Dean Shek runs to the door in panic, something is lost at the beginning of the shot.
41:58 / 41:55-41:56
Only the Ocean Shores DVD shows the beginning of the shot where the shield is retracted. All other releases of the film start the camera movement backwards at the moment when there is a monk in the lower right corner of the picture.
On the British HKL-DVD and the 88 Films Blu-ray, the picture is frozen for 1 second, while the moment is simply missing on Eastern Heroes.
43:07 / 43:04-43:06
Master error as the monks walk through the temple.
48:07 / 48:00-48:02
Master error during combat.
49:31 / 49:25-49:26
Probably a reel change: The three of them walk away for a moment longer.
54:40 / 54:31-54:33
A moment is lost in the transition to the long shot, which of course is not even recognizable as such in the zoomed Eastern Heroes.
64:41 / 64:36-64:37
After Jackie's training interlude, James Tien's next fight starts a little earlier: His opponent staggers back and the camera zooms out.
68:20 / 68:17-69:02
A longer piece of single combat with sticks is withheld from the Eastern Heroes buyer.
74:27 / 75:09-75:10
Master error when James gets up and goes to the door.
80:53 / 81:38-81:39
Master error before the monk comments on Luk Sin.