Comparison between the four ending options for the Ultimate Cut on Disc 2 of the UK Blu-ray Deluxe Collector's Edition from 88 Films.
In addition to varying bonus material and additional original/alternate audio tracks, a major selling point for 88 Films' edition is the Ultimate Cut (also called the "Hybrid Cut" in early announcements) and the accompanying Ending Randomiser. As is well known, both Hong Kong and Mandarin versions contain their own exclusive material, and the Ultimate Cut combines this into a longest possible version. The most noticeable difference, however, was the different fate of the film's two main characters and with a total of 4 ending options, they've tried to cover every conceivable preference in the Ultimate Cut here as well.
When you select the Ultimate Cut in the menu of the Blu-ray, the first option you can select is the "Ending Randomiser". If you click to the right, however, you can also select the four options specifically, which are played by random selection. This again explains the running time of 105/106 minutes for this Ultimate Cut, because the shortest of the four options runs for 105:08 minutes and the longest for 106:25 minutes. Whether one considers the longest possible option to be the best one can decide for oneself - or leave the choice to the "randomiser".
Since the just linked Mandarin/HK cut report has presented this in principle in more detail and the present comparison is only supposed to offer an overview, this is therefore not a classic report. The discrepancies all take place between the 94th and 104th minute. While the really official versions either ended with both Cynthia Rothrock and Yuen Biao dying or both surviving (including a prison sentence for Yuen Biao), the other hermaphrodite combination was created here. So for the first time there is also a version in which Cynthia Rothrock dies but Yuen Biao survives (including imprisonment). Also, a version in which Cynthia survives but Yuen dies. The agony of choice.
1: Heroes Always Win (106:25)
2: Vigilantism For Life (106:20)
Starting from 94:25 (a shot of the superintendent starts earlier, just before he pulls the pick out of Cindy's torso to the side) ending #1 is frame-accurate to the Mandarin/export version, which 88 Films called "Singapore Cut" and "English Above the Law Cut". #2 instead closely follows the Hong Kong cut from this moment - until the 103rd minute: While in the HK cut there is only one more shot of Chan floating dead in the water and the credits immediately follow, here the coast guard comes in as well. This actually only happens in the Mandarin/export version. However, the moments where Cindy is seen on the boat helping Chan out of the water have been consequently removed out of this new ending variation.
So, interestingly, an earlier/additional dissolve to the final courtroom scene has also been created here: It actually fades from a shot of Chan to an exterior shot of the courthouse first. The Mandarin version of end #1, on the other hand, showed Cindy again after the shot of Chan, and then another shot of the ships, from which it fades over immediately to Chan in the courtroom. So here, as there, Chan is then convicted. The final credits begin identically above the action montage.
3: Heroes Always Sacrifice (105:28)
End variant #3 then again corresponds completely to the Hong Kong cut: Here both Cindy and Chan die. Compared to the end variant #2, there is only a deviation at 103:37, when we see Chan floating around in the water for a longer time. Interestingly enough, the end credits begin above the last shot of Chan floating around.
4: Justice Over Vigilantism (105:08)
End variant #4 is very close to #1 (i.e. the Mandarin/Export version or the "Singapore Cut") until shortly before the end. Only the very first shot of the Superintendent at 94:24 was minimally longer, as was actually only the case with the Hong Kong version (and thus also the end variants #2 + #3). However, Cindy then survives here as well. At 102:53 / 102:54 you can see Chan's fall and from here on it's the Hong Kong version again: Chan dies after his fall.
#1: Cindy and Chan survive.
#2: Cindy dies, Chan survives.
#3: Cindy and Chan die.
#4: Cindy survives, Chan dies.
Particularly curious: In the bonus material of Disc 1, you can also find a "Ladies Man" alternate ending in HD quality, another variation of the ending, which was probably not known until now. Here Chan is floating around on the water for a longer time (same close-ups) and suddenly a boat passes by. Several women on board notice him and want to save him. One even reaches for the telephone. But the man on board stops her: after all, they came out here for fun and didn't want to spoil it. He turns the boat around and they drive away.
So also a rather cynical and gloomy ending. It is not known in which releases of the film this was used (and if at all). Anyway, Fortune Star apparently found the HD footage for this in the archives as well, and so you can marvel at it as a bonus at 88 Films.
Slipcase and reverse cover of the Blu-ray Deluxe Collector's Edition by 88 Films: