Comparison between the Taiwanese DVD from Long Shong (extended version) and the Taiwanese bonus version of the German Blu-ray from TG Vision / Cargo Records.
- 2 extended bits
- Duration: 4.9 sec
In addition, there are two scenes used from a different source without change in running time
Swordsman II with Jet Li was released in most countries in the regular Hong Kong theatrical version - only US viewers got a heavily censored version under the title Legend of the Swordsman. In Taiwan, however, a longer early cut of the film was available on VHS, VCD and DVD. In addition, it has always been interesting that the sequel Swordsman III was longer by one bit of violence during a flashback its predecessor. This scene was missing from the Hong Kong and US film versions, so it was probably already censored for the theatrical release in the home country.
Since June 30, 2023, the German Blu-ray premiere is available in two Mediabook editions. After Swordsman 1 lready had the longer Taiwanese cut as a bonus on the Blu-ray release (German audio only though), this has fortunately also happened with Swordsman II. In this case, the alternate version is available outside of Taiwan for the first time ever. However, since all known releases have English subtitles burned into the image and there are many differences in detail, this version is only available in SD and with its original language track. At least it's anamorphic now and a little remastered, so it's better than all releases from Taiwan.
But there is another special feature, because the Taiwan long version is available in an extended form. As with so many Taiwan versions, on the one hand there is a lot of additional plot material to discover, but on the other hand small bits of violence have been censored. Two moments where heads are cut off have therefore been added back into the film for the bonus version on the German Blu-ray. Furthermore, two scene blocks have been additionally reworked, as they showed nasty master errors on the Taiwanese DVD.
But there is another special feature, because the well-known theatrical version is available in a slightly extended form. The aforementioned violent bit from the sequel's flashback has been inserted at the appropriate point in the finale: Now a huge gush of blood spurts out of Asia's torso as Master Wu attacks her. Interestingly, this short moment was also included in the Taiwan version, so besides the sequel, this was another reference to verify how this scene played out originally/uncensored. A nice little idea to rebuild it this way for the Blu-ray release. Overall, it's a recommendable release for fans.
Running time information is arranged according to the scheme
German DVD in PAL / main version on German Blu-ray in 23.976fps
The Blu-ray has 1.1 sec of additional black image to start with.
Here are three comparative images from the film: The damaged parts on the sides were cropped off along with the anamorphic processing. The third image is from the moment immediately before the following cut...
02:59 / 03:00-03:02
...where the beginning of the shot has already been taken from another source because the end of the shot was missing in all Taiwanese releases. The beheading just before the opening credits is roughly cut off in the regular Taiwan version and a jumpcut takes the viewer to the later moment where the already severed head is pulled away to the side. Actually, the shot is a moment longer and from another perspective the head is pulled away upwards, whereupon blood spurts from the torso.
82:36-85:49 / 82:34-85:47
Here the Taiwanese DVD has a longer piece with occasional damage on the picture, which has been corrected for the German Blu-ray bonus version- Presumably, the entire scene block was added in from the Taiwanese VHS, which naturally has somewhat less sharpness. In the second half of this scene block, the Taiwan DVD at least no longer had the awful green-red elements in the picture, but there were extreme staircase artifacts - which suddenly disappear in the middle of the shot in the last screenshot, with the wrong colors flashing briefly one last time.
In any case, since there were several small enhancements to this scene in Taiwan compared to the theatrical version, the footage had to be taken from another Taiwan release instead of the better quality sources of the regular theatrical version.
87:58 / 87:56-87:59
The next conspicuous censorship of all Taiwanese releases with the actual longer version, which was fixed for the German Blu-ray: After Master Wu has grabbed the head and literally "sucked" it out, the long shot is missing, with his adversary staggering decapitated to the side.
102:59-111:10 / 102:59-111:10
The entire end sequence had sporadic image glitches again and was therefore completely added in from another image source. Unfortunately, however, the alternative source used for this was also briefly damaged at one single point, and after similar color glitches, the picture is completely blue for a mini-moment of less than a second (109:19 / 109:18). But of course that's rather bearable than several minutes of repeatedly appearing image errors as on the Taiwanese DVD.