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Righting Wrongs (Above the Law)

original title: Zhi fa xian feng

Comparison:

  • French Version
  • Mandarin Version
Release: Aug 10, 2022 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the shortened French version on the French DVD and the Mandarin version on Side B of Universe's Hong Kong DVD.


- 16 cuts
- Cut duration: 1331.6 sec (= 22:12 min)
=> Of which identical to the export version: 510.6 sec (= 8:31 min)

 

Righting Wrongs (a.k.a. Above the Law) is a small gem of '80s action cinema from Hong Kong. Cynthia Rothrock and Yuen Biao show their skills impressively here and the whole thing is basically mandatory viewing for the genre fan. Unfortunately, there are a few different versions floating around here as well. Similar to Millionaires' Express, you have to break it down a bit more.

There are three main versions, each with exclusive scenes as well as cuts, and no version that contains ALL of the material. The version, originally made in English for export, was then further cut in some countries after the fact. In short summary:

1. Hong Kong version - 93 min PAL / 97 min NTSC
With "hard ending" (Yuen Biao dies) and a few action scenes missing in all other versions.
-> Has been remastered by Fortune Star and is therefore widely available. Included on various Hong Kong DVDs, the US DVD and French DVD, and the Hong Kong Blu-ray (upscale). In 2022, the film is released on Blu-ray in the US and UK, also with this version.

2. Mandarin version - 94 min PAL [would be equivalent to 98 min in NTSC].
Shorter than the Hong Kong version by spikes of violence, action scenes, and quite a few mini-cuts - but again contains its own additional action scenes. There is also a longer, "harmless ending" (Yuen Biao is rescued and tried in court).
-> The only known release has been the old Universe DVD from Hong Kong (Side B of the Flipper disc). The 2022 US Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome has some editing errors on this version.

3. Export version - 87 min PAL [would correspond to 90 min in NTSC].
Basically based on the Mandarin version (= the editing is based on the missing/additional scenes there and shows the "harmless ending"). Beyond that, however, streamlined by 8.5 minutes of plot. Also noticeable are English credits and inserts.
-> Included on the DVD from South Africa and template for the versions now mentioned as sub-items (a) and (b). The 2022 US Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome has some editing errors on this version.

3a. British VHS - 87 min PAL
Corresponds to the export version (3), but has been censored for three small spikes of violence.

3b. German version - 85 min PAL
Corresponds to the export version (3), but has been further censored by two minutes.

3c. French version - 73 min PAL
Based on the export version (3), but was shortened by 14 minutes. On the French DVD, this version was reconstructed as a bonus with the master of the Mandarin version (2). Possibly René Chateau's French VHS (also listed as 73 min) was differing some more.

The cuts of the French version

As already mentioned, the French version is obviously based on the export version according to matching cuts. However, at least for the present bonus version on the French DVD, we have to confirm that the master of the slightly longer Mandarin version was used, which in principle was also the basis for the export version.

That's why we also compared it with this one. However, the cuts of the French theatrical/VHS version have been sloppily reconstructed, because you often encounter rough jump cuts. In a few places, there are also short transitional moments between two smaller shots of the original version, which indicates that they have "generously" recut the film. In contrast, the previous VHS by René Chateau was probably more "cleanly" cut.

Nevertheless, this bonus version of the DVD should give a good overview of where they have additionally trimmed in France even back then. More gangster banter and especially the relationship between Corey Yuen's character Joe and his cop father portrayed by Wu Ma was cut. The latter in particular is interesting in that at least the last scenes of it were also removed in Germany. In comparison, however, they got off much better in this country. In France, after several large-scale cuts, all that was really left was a fairly stringent non-stop actioner, so to speak.

 

Runtimes are ordered as follows: French version DVD in PAL / Mandarin version on Universe DVD in PAL

Note: The screenshots were taken from the Hong Kong version on the French DVD due to the better picture quality, as the scenes are all included there as well. For short Mandarin/export exclusive scenes, the African DVD was also used.

For the French DVD, logos were added at the beginning.

+ 49 sec




For inserts and the credits, the French bonus version corresponds 1:1 to the Universe DVD, since the same picture master was taken as a basis.


Similar to export version.
08:22 / 07:33-08:12

Sloppy: in the French version, you see the judge reach for his glasses for a second, then there's a rough jump cut and it continues with a later shot of the judge. In between, of course, some discussion with the defense attorney is missing, as in the export version.

39.6 sec
.



13:02 / 12:52-14:27

After Chan drives the car out of the underground garage, which incidentally is missing from the Hong Kong version, a conversation between the gangster bosses has been removed. Johnny is unhappy that another witness was let off lightly. Bill tries to make it clear that the guy can still be dangerous to them. Johnny makes some belligerent comments and says to the departing Bill that he should be careful.

94.9 sec (= 1:35 min)




Similar to export version.
15:43 / 17:08-17:20

The gangster boss suffers in Chan's chokehold in an additional shot. Then the two guys outside try to get the door broken down. In between, Chan chokes gangster boss Bill more extensively and he loses consciousness.

In contrast to the export version, a side shot of the two at the beginning is missing. Only this additional removed moment is illustrated.

12.2 sec




Similar to export version.
17:09 / 18:47-21:12

More discussion at the gaming table before Cindy shows her police badge.
In contrast to the export version, a relatively small part of about 30 sec was removed right away, which actually came between two cuts - and better explains how the bad guys get to it at table 6.

144.8 sec (= 2:25 min)




Similar to export version.
19:13 / 23:16-24:49

After Cindy beats the crap out of the bad guys from table 6 and chains them to the chair, there is some more conversation between Cindy and the police colleague. Joe then distributes some disgusting food in the police office as well.

In contrast to the export version, the transitional exterior shot in front of the police station has been removed, so the scene transition is very abrupt.

93.5 sec (= 1:33 min)




21:19 / 25:55-31:21

The second scene that was additionally removed in its entirety. Joe (Corey Yuen) is coming out of the precinct and is greeted there by his father (Wu Ma). He takes cigarettes from him and generally has only critical words for him. Cindy then holds the father back a bit, since Joe is her new partner after all. A guy in a sports car drives by and the driver hits on Cindy. The father then takes Cindy aside for a moment and says that she should take good care of him.

Afterwards, Cindy pulls up in front of the building and tells Joe to stay by the car. She lets him show her around inside. A meter maid then comes by and gives Joe a ticket. There was then also a mini cut of 12 sec in the export version, although the scene itself runs much longer, of course.

When Cindy comes back, she has an idea: She lets the people at the precinct search tons of parking tickets, hoping that one can identify the car of the offender. This part of the scene was also missing in the Hong Kong version.

265.8 sec (= 4:26 min)




The shot of the computer screen in minute 22/32 is identical in Chinese, since the French version on DVD was, after all, recreated from the old Hong Kong DVD. Presumably, on the original FR version, it was also with the English alternative, like the other releases of the export version.


Similar to export version.
22:11 / 32:13-32:40

After Chan's name comes up in the computer, Cindy gets more specific info on Chan.

Note: The cut starts a little later than in the export version. In return, however, the follow-up shot with Johnny begins similarly 1 sec later.

26.7 sec



27:50 / 38:19-39:34

After the scene in the underground garage, we see Joe again with his father, who is doctoring him up a bit and treating him like a child again. The colleagues mock him. After that, some more discussion between father and son, whether he will become an inspector one day.

The following scene with the ice cubes also starts a moment earlier. This was probably only unintentionally recorded, but this little moment was also missing in the normal export version.

75.5 sec (= 1:15 min)




Similar to export version.
29:14 / 40:58-41:22

Joe arrives with fast food at the beginning of the scene and there is some discussion about it.

24.5 sec




37:34 / 49:43-51:43

After the discussion at the station, there is another scene with Yu and his grandfather. He teases him a bit and ends up running into the grandfather's chess partner.

Note: The scene is missing in the Hong Kong version and was thus described in more detail in the corresponding comparison. Therefore, it is not illustrated again.

120.1 sec (= 2:00 min)



Similar to export version.
42:42 / 56:51-56:57

After Yu names a large sum, two police officers have a brief conversation.

6.5 sec
.



Similar to export version.
43:29 / 57:44-58:11

After Joe is given the task by Cindy to tail the boy, he first complains that he is getting nowhere with his report.

Note: As with the first cut above, this cut was sloppily reconstructed. You can still see part of the first shot of Joe in the French DVD and it is followed by an unclean jump cut.

26.8 sec
.



43:31 / 58:13-58:41

Joe runs longer out of the precinct and bumps into his father at the door. The two get into a bit of a tussle for a moment.

27.5 sec




46:49 / 61:58-64:21

Joe's father also arrives on the scene. The colleagues stop him for a moment, but he does not allow himself to be stopped any further. Some more discussion among the two follows. Joe's father comes back from inside and gives a few confident words. Superintendent Wong now also encourages him. As he walks away, however, the father is also overcome with tears for his son. As he is taken into the ambulance, the father covers his sneakers - revealing his face. A last cigarette is put in his mouth.

Note: Parts of this scene were also missing in the German version. So here these two variations of the export versions overlap a bit, although they seem to have been made independently otherwise.

142.6 sec (= 2:23 min)




Similar to export version.
52:46 / 70:18-72:17

After Chan puts the gun to Cindy's head, the scene takes another "model" ending. Chan takes out handcuffs and puts them on himself.
Following this, Chan is brought before the superintendent. Both talk about justice and the superintendent threatens him a bit.

119 sec (= 1:59 min)




58:48 / 78:19-80:11

Another encounter between Cindy and Chan. She inquires about Yu and Chan gives an emotional speech about selfish interests and whether his death was really necessary. Cindy fights back a bit and then says that they'd better work together to catch Wong. He covers up Yu's body.

111.6 sec (= 1:52 min)