Comparison between the Cantonese Version and the Chinese Version (both included on the "Alternate Versions" bonus disc in the British 4K UHD set from Arrow Video)
In the British 4K UHD box set "BRUCE LEE AT GOLDEN HARVEST" by Arrow Video, we've already summarized the essential details in the report for the Mandarin Cut of the first film THE BIG BOSS and in the report for FINAL GAME OF DEATH. It's practically a must-buy for die-hard fans, especially due to these two significant alternate versions.
As we mentioned in the aforementioned report about the reconstructed original material, the infamous title exists in several versions. Besides the international standard version, there's some alternate material to discover in the Japanese version, and another Asian version deviates more extensively. While the Japanese version is included with seamless branching on the 4K main disc from Arrow Video, the version corresponding to the latter report, the "Chinese version*", forms the basis of the bonus disc. It is presented in HD throughout. On the disc, also resolved with seamless branching, a Cantonese as well as a Mandarin version are included. Both versions resemble the basic structure of the Chinese and sometimes feature SD inserts.
Here, we'll focus on the Cantonese version, which deviates from the Chinese main version only in the first half and after the final fight. In the short description of the Blu-ray menu, it is suggested that the film originally ran in this manner in Hong Kong cinemas. The fight against Dan Inosanto, which is slightly alternate in Japan and completely absent in the Chinese version, is still present here - but, curiously, it happens independently of the rest of the pagoda, occurring after about 30 minutes. Furthermore, it differs in detail, and there's an exclusive scene at the beginning that explains why Billy is already going into the fight in disguise that early within the plot. Presumably, this was shifted to include more footage of the real Bruce Lee earlier. However, in the course of the story, it naturally doesn't make sense - even less so than is already the case with a significant portion of the film.
In addition to the aforementioned exclusive scene, there's also yet another alternate ending. While the international version ends after Dr. Land's death, the Chinese version shows Billy being arrested and then, abruptly, a departing ship at the harbor. The Cantonese version explains what's going on. Here, there's practically a "happy ending": Billy escapes and boards a ship at the harbor with his wife, continuing to flee to safety. All in all, it's a nice completeness bonus for fans that this curious alternate version has been preserved.
* In the Blu-ray.com forum, it was detailed (and confirmed by Fortune Star) that the "Cantonese version" from Arrow with the ferry happy end is indeed the Hong Kong theatrical cut of the film. The Arrow's "Chinese version," which was previously included as an SD bonus, for example, in the Japanese Blu-ray, and has the politically correct arrest ending, originally screened in cinemas in Singapore. Arrow's Mandarin version, on the other hand, corresponds to the theatrical release in Taiwan.
Runtime indications follow the schema:
In the bonus material of Disc 1 for Game of Death, under the section Deleted & Alternate Scenes, there is also a pre-title sequence labeled as "(Cant.)". However, in the corresponding "Cantonese" version on Disc 2, you'll find exactly the same HD source as in the Chinese main version on Disc 2. In this bonus section, several scenes are stored, which are missing in the international version of Disc 1, but are included in both the Chinese and Cantonese versions on Disc 2. So, don't be confused: that very international version is used here as a reference, and there isn't even more exclusive material to discover in this bonus section compared to the versions on Disc 2.
33:50-36:34 / 33:50
After Billy has followed Dr. Land in disguise, both the international and Chinese versions continue at the harbor. However, in the Cantonese version, you see him arriving on his motorcycle in front of the Red Pepper Restaurant. With a soft dissolve, you see him once again in disguise, wearing old man makeup, and walking around. Inside, he makes a brief phone call. He tells Marshall not to bother trying to dissuade him. He mentions that now he knows that his adversaries have their base above the Red Pepper Restaurant, and he needs to let off some steam. If he doesn't call again tomorrow, Marshall should collect his body at the restaurant.
Up to this point, approximately 40 seconds have passed.
The pagoda scene with Ji Han-jae, which was completely cut in the Chinese version, now follows abruptly. Apparently the viewer shall think that this is what Billy was up to after the angry call with Marshall. Interestingly, in the Cantonese version, it is also edited slightly differently than it is in the international version. The Japanese version was already shorter here and offered exclusive material. The Cantonese version is similar to this Japanese edit but deviates in detail:
* The first shot still resembles the international version (IV): Ji is seen longer than in the JP version, which ends this shot earlier.
* After the shot of Billy, just like in the JP version, the exclusive close-up shot of Ji (missing from the IV) is seen. However, here's where it gets curious: the middle part with the camera panning toward him is missing in the Cantonese version. A jumpcut takes us directly to the close-up of his eyes. However, in the Cantonese version, you see Ji speaking longer in that close-up. This moment is exclusive in terms of visuals, not seen in either the JP or IF versions. Additionally, Ji talks about his boss not being here and having taken a boat to Macau.
* Shortly afterward, like in the JP version, a 10-second piece of the fight is missing after Ji raises his hand. Here, even the short close-up of Ji with his hand raised is missing. The moments before and after the additional cut in the Cantonese version are pictured here for orientation. In between, as mentioned, there's actually even more footage in the IF version.
* Billy's path to the next stairs is interrupted exactly at the moment where the JP version also cuts the shot in favor of alternate material.
total 164.2 seconds (= 2 minutes, 44 seconds)
Immediately before the following difference, the Cantonese version switches to another image source, although the shot itself is identical.
91:02-91:53 / 88:18-89:06
In the Cantonese version, Billy then continues up the stairs, and you see Dr. Land's corpse once more. The scene then fades softly to a harbor scene where Billy bids farewell to Marshall. However, a song is played here, making it impossible to understand any words, despite Marshall visibly moving his mouth. Together with Ann, Billy boards a ship. As the ship departs, a long shot with a photo of the real Bruce inserted on the right side is shown. The lyrics of the song are also presented in the embedded subtitles.
In the Chinese version, on the other hand, follows the alternate ending described in the report between the Chinese and international versions in which Billy is arrested. In the international version, it immediately transitions to its own credits, which are styled like the opening credits.
Cantonese version 2.5 seconds longer
After this, the Chinese version also switches to the departing ship (relatively pointlessly). This final part of the shot is still shown from a different source, even though in principle the material is exactly the same. So the main film uses a clean HD source, while the Cantonese version offers a SD source with burnt-in subtitles for the lyrics of the song.