Comparison between the censored US version and the original version (both included on the 2019 Mediabooks by Nameless Media)
128 differences, including
* 8 re-cuts
* 6x additional material in the US version
* 6x alternative story course
Difference: 14:42 min
* Additional material in the US version: 3:50 min
* Additional material in the original version: 18:32 min
A few additional template/material errors with a duration of less than 0.5 sec each were not listed in the report.
German and international Blu-rays/DVDs from No Retreat, No Surrender
The 1985 film No Retreat, No Surrender (German Title: Karate Tiger) made Jean-Claude van Damme a star and in addition to a few actual sequels, resulted in numerous films marketed only in Germany as sequels. The trashy and entertaining original is an absolute cult in any case. For the German theatre release, the film was cut and the additional dialogue scenes were never dubbed until 2019 respectively were previously only available in original audio with subtitles. As a bonus (in addition to the original version with subtitled passages), the Blu-ray, which was released in 2015, had a reconstructed German theatrical version without foreign language changes on the disc.
The USBlu-ray by Kino Lorber was released in 2017. In addition to the uncut original version, the Blu-ray also included the really strongly deviating US version with an HD transfer from the original camera negatives for the first time. Here, several re-cuts were made, music changed and you can even find some exclusive scenes. By removing just a few unintentionally funny scenes the movie seems more serious.
In cooperation between Nameless Media and Splendid, all previously missing scenes from the German version were newly dubbed and the film was released in new and unfortunately now sold out mediabooks by the end of August 2019. Here, for the first time, the US version is completely in German audio and also the two alternative versions already known in Germany (so now the German theatrical version and for the first time a fully dubbed original version) are included. In addition, the picture was remastered in comparison to the previous Blu-ray and new extras were added from the US Blu-ray. With this effort, it can probably be assumed that the out of print mediabooks will be followed by further Blu-ray releases.
In any case, the US adjustment is worth a closer look. Is the exclusive material there worthwhile and is the style-modified version worth a look regardless of the original version?
The US version of No Retreat, No Surrender
First, we can highlight something that is naturally difficult to reproduce in the cut report: The Score/Soundtrack was almost completely replaced. This is hard to describe exactly but the US adaptation is less playful and generally more serious. Some lively 80s pop songs or some dynamic synths in e.g. training scenes will surely miss one or the other. From a German point of view you can still note that these adjustments were not completely transferred. If many dialogues occur during such a scene, the song of the then dubbed version from the original version was kept in German. The atmosphere changes a bit due to the different music, even in the German version.
The same can also be said for many cuts in silly or involuntarily funny scenes. Don't worry: there is still a lot of trashy nonsense left, even with so many cuts you can't make the most serious thing out of the source material. But it's quite striking how especially weird moments of the thick Scott or various grimaces of R.J. as well as other absurd moments with him (training sequence with Jason) were deleted. The actor of Ian also stands out because of his stupid overacting and his screentime was reduced to a minimum in the USA. Tom and others also make much less outraged or even ridiculous comments in between.
But what exclusive material can be found among the US version? Unspectacular are of course their own opening credits as well as small filler shots of houses or Jason who finished his training. But in the first half there is an additional scene with Jason and Kelly which shows their relationship in a completely different light. Here the two already know each other better BEFORE her birthda, respectively are already a couple according to their kisses and other touches.
In this context, one can also mention a few re-cuts, because along with this addition a few scenes were shifted in the time-frame. The next romantic scene between Jason and Kelly in the disco comes earlier. Tom also has the chance to fight the guy in the bar much earlier, just after the additional scene with the two lovebirds. Sometimes they wanted to speed up the process by changing similar shots within a scene. It concentrates on the essential moments, which are important for understanding.
So you can also summarize a lot of tightening because obviously the editors of the US version tried to give the film more dynamic in many places. Slowing down re-cuts to the ring audiences were erased here and there but often the end or the beginning of shots were simply trimmed to make both action and combat scenes more fluid. This often helps the viewer but sometimes funny moments fall off the table and with cut fighting scenes most genre fans surely react immediately allergic.
All in all, the US version is worth a look even for fans of the original version. The mood is really different and the whole thing seems a bit less trashy. Conversely, even fans in US forums often appreciate exactly these aspects of the movie and for them the original version with its many wonderfully crazy additional moments is surely also quite interesting. In contrast to the only slightly shorter, German theatrical version, this is really a different experience and therefore it's nice to offer both versions together on one release.
The comparison material was kindly provided by Nameless Media!
Runtime specifications are arranged according to the following scheme:
US version Blu-ray / Original Blu-ray version
Additional material in the US version / Alternatively
00:00-01:21 / 00:00-00:56
Other company logos and alternative start.
In the US version a leader on a more or less black background. With the original version, a city shot and then the first shot in the dojo starts much earlier.
US version 25 sec longer
With the original version, 1.5 minutes of additional credits run over the identical shots in the dojo.
04:17 / 03:52-03:53
When Tom turned down the offer, a shot of him is missing after Ivan was shown.
04:18 / 03:54-03:57
Tom asks if he has made himself clear.
04:57 / 04:35-04:38
Tom says grimly that he probably has no other choice.
05:03 / 04:44-04:46
The opponents face each other a little longer in the total.
05:04 / 04:47-04:49
Another shot of Tom.
05:34 / 05:19 /
When Ivan breaks Tom's leg, the shot actually starts a little earlier.
05:35 / 05:20-05:21
The semi-total with Ivan's next kick starts a little earlier.
05:39 / 05:25
Tom writhes a moment longer and Jason storms forward a few frames earlier.
05:49 / 05:35-05:36
Ivan holds Jason's hand twisted a little longer and can be seen a little earlier.
05:52 / 05:39-05:40
06:26 / 06:14-07:04
Jason and Tom a little longer. Then the scene with Tom in the hospital is missing: In his mind, he reflects again on Ivan and his intentions. He decides to leave, which leads to the earlier camera tracking shot along the closed stores.
A little more extensive cut than in the theatrical version.
By the way, a completely different score can be heard above this next scene. It' s a bit more "hopeful" in the US version.
07:29 / 08:07-08:09
The house can be seen a little earlier.
11:06 / 11:46-11:49
R.J. dodges the punching ball a little more detailed and Jason can also be seen much earlier.
12:06 / 12:49-12:57
After his fall, R.J. writhes a little longer on the ground and Jason wants to help him up. R.J. waves off and does a few breakdance turns.
12:45-13:54 / 13:36-13:44 or 17:51-19:41
R.J. and Jason go outside in the original version and an outdoor shot at night follows. The drive along the collector's material from Lee also starts a little earlier.
In the US version, R.J. and Jason visit Lee's grave here instead. At the end, there is a soft transition to the camera movement along the Lee material.
US version 61.3 sec (= 1:04 min) longer
15:03 / 14:53-19:41
Jason takes a breather on the ground a little longer. Then a longer scene is missing with fat Scott, who is just loitering in front of his front door and is straightened out by his father. When R.J. comes by, Scott is waiting for him, splashes him wet and holds him on the floor. R.J. manages to free himself and drives away, Scott runs after him. He jumps after him agilely over a ladder and fills up his self-confidence - whereupon R.J. provokes him to jump over a higher obstacle. Scott also tries this, whereupon R.J. pushes his skateboard under his feet at the right moment and brings Scott down. Finally R.J. arrives at Jason's place.
The grave visit follows here as well, see colored highlighted block at the previous deviating scene.
288.1 sec (= 4:48 min)