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The Big Boss

original title: Tang shan da xiong (aka Fists of Fury)


  • US theatrical cut (Arrow Video)
  • Regular version
Release: Jul 26, 2023 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB
Comparison between the US theatrical version (1973) and the regular version (Hong Kong 1983 cut), both included on Arrow Video's UK 4K UHD set.
- 11 changes
- Difference: 23.9 sec
We have already summarized all the essentials about the British box set BRUCE LEE AT GOLDEN HARVEST from Arrow Video in 4K UHD in the report on the Mandarin Cut of the first film The Big Boss. It's a must-buy for die-hard fans, partly because of this absolutely spectacular 10-minute-longer cut. As already mentioned, there are two more versions to choose from on the 4K UHD disc. Both use the standard master as a base (seamless branching) and have a few inserts. In this report, we will focus on the US theatrical version.
For the most part, this one is similar to the version on the old US DVD (see report). A few snippets that could also be found on the German VHS were included here. In return, however, the US version lacked other brief moments, mostly in the immediate vicinity, so that the running time was almost evened out. Arrow has now reconstructed this as far as possible, but the fabric run, for example, is complete in the 4K version. The old US DVD showed "only" 6 sec of it, but actually (= German VHS and now also with the Arrow US version) the shot goes on for 9 sec. As already noted in more detail in the report on the Mandarin Cut, the different score is also a significant difference between the versions. The US version largely uses the soundtrack that Peter Thomas created for the German release in 1973.
Ultimately, a bit strange how meticulously rather inconsequential mini passages from the Mandarin source (accordingly partly incl. fixed subtitles in the picture, although the U.S. dub is heard) were incorporated AND at the same time bit were cut out to really match the U.S. audio source quite accurately to the picture. But those who grew up with the US version and also consistently don't like changes to foreign audio tracks will probably appreciate this. For most interested parties, however, the standard version in uniform picture quality is probably more recommended, for which both English audio tracks (with some short subtitled moments) can also be selected. In principle, otherwise the longer Mandarin Cut is preferred anyway, but it is not available with an English audio track.
Running times are arranged according to the scheme
US version from Arrow Video in 23.976fps / Regular version from Arrow Video in 23.976fps
The standard version still refers to Fortune Star at the beginning.

36 sec

Another production logo at the beginning, which is considerably longer and belongs to Golden Harvest. Afterward, the order of credits deviates slightly at the beginning, similar to the Mandarin Cut, but this time including the alternative US title Fists of Fury. The rest of the animations are mostly identical; however, the US version lacks these overlays altogether.

Standard version is 11 sec longer

US theatrical versionStandard version

Note: The bonus material includes credits for the 1978 US re-release in theaters. Here, you can also see the entire crew information. By the way, this opening credits sequence is largely similar to the one created right after the Asian theatrical release for the English export version. Accordingly, it is featured in this separately selectable version on the disc, which we present in an additional report due to some other differences. However, in the 78 theatrical re-release, the title card was naturally changed to the US title Fists of Fury.

At this point, let's take a look at the credits for the 1974 release in Japan, which are also included in the bonus material. This version uses much of the German/American score for the audio track but has its own title song. The credits are exactly the same as in the 1978 US re-release version, so this seems to have been the original source for it. Only the title differs. Additionally, we also get a brief glimpse at the additional ending credits, which are also in English and only available in zoomed-in fullscreen. This was common, especially during the VHS era, while at least the opening credits often retained the original format.

Finally, regarding this credits comparison: Both the JP and the US re-release credits were based, as mentioned, on those of the initial English export version. However, the crew information was partially changed or corrected to use more common English words for these duties.

English export versionJapanese credits 1974 / US credits 1978

22:16 / 23:04-23:05

In the standard version, the shot of the manager starts a little earlier.

1.2 sec

US version longer
22:22-22:23 / 23:11

As in the German VHS version, the US version is slightly longer at the end/beginning of two shots. During this moment, the US dub says, "...into our own little club."

+ 1.1 sec

US version longer
24:42-24:51 / 25:30

The fabric run: In the US version, Hsu and the other workers arrive at the factory earlier.

Note: The old US DVD omitted the first 3 sec of this shot. However, the 4K Blu-ray/Blu-ray version from Arrow shows the shot in its entirety.

+ 8.8 sec

25:54 / 26:33-26:36

In the US version, a small part of the dialogue is missing. Hsu's shot is longer, and he turns his head slightly upward. The subsequent shot of the manager also begins a little earlier.

3.1 sec

US version longer
25:59-26:02 / 26:41

Shortly afterward, this difference is compensated in the US version by showing a longer shot of Hsu. In the US dub, he says (deviating from the burned-in subtitles of the used Mandarin print): "First Wang disappears without a trace. No one knows where he went. And now these boys..."

Note: In the additional, optional SDH subtitles for the US version, the subtitles for this brief moment appear on a black background, effectively covering the burned-in Mandarin print subtitles. The same approach was used for the following extended dialogues.

+ 3.2 sec

30:34 / 31:12-31:15

Mi's dialogue starts a little earlier in the US version.

3.1 sec

US version longer
30:41-30:44 / 31:23

Immediately after that, this difference is again compensated in the US version with a missing moment from the standard version. In the US dub, Mi says (deviating from the burned-in subtitles of the used Mandarin print): "With money in their pockets, they're probably dead drunk somewhere."

+ 3.1 sec

Alternative / US version longer
69:56-70:00 / 70:36-70:39

Mi praises Cheng a little more elaborately. In the US dub, he says slightly differently, "I know you want to get ahead. Here you have a bright future, if you apply yourself."

This was known from the German VHS and the Mandarin Cut. However, in the US version from Arrow, the beginning of this shot is cut, resulting in... time difference

US theatrical versionStandard version

97:34 / 98:12-98:20

The well-known US censorship cut in the finale: The shot of Cheng with his hands on Mi's chest is shown for one second longer in the regular version, followed by a camera movement up his blood-soaked belly.

7.3 sec

US version longer
97:35-97:43 / 98:21

Afterward, 1 sec of the shot is identical in both versions. The US theatrical version is longer during the rotation, showing them turning 180 degrees. This explains the continuity error in the standard version, where Cheng suddenly stands on the right and Mi on the left.

Note: Interestingly, this part was also incomplete in the Mandarin print. It only showed the beginning of the shot (also included in the standard version), and before the camera moves up, it immediately cuts to the last 4 seconds of the rotation. So, while it contains different footage than the standard version, it's also not complete. Fortunately, another source was used for this, allowing the scene to be seen in the longest possible form.

+ 7.7 sec

99:25-99:48 / 100:03-100:11

The final overlay is only present in the standard version. However, the US theatrical version includes references to National General Pictures and the MPAA rating after the credits.

US theatrical version is 14.6 sec longer

US theatrical versionStandard version