Comparison between the US bonus version on the German DVD of M.I.G. and the US Blu-ray of Vinegar Syndrome.
- 21 differences
- Duration: 527.1 sec (= 8:47 min) [in PAL, without logos]
A couple of additional master errors, each less than 0.5 sec in duration, were not listed in the report.
In the Claws of the C.I.A. (also released in the US as Ninja in the Claws of the CIA) was a wonderfully bonkers 1982 project by martial arts icon John Liu, who, in addition to starring, also wrote and directed the film. The story about self-hypnosis autosuggestion at the CIA is completely absurd from front to back and offers only very loose explanations for trashy highlights like a training sequence in which Liu is not allowed to distract himself from oral sex. With lots of European guest stars like the unique Christian Anders (Love Camp aka Divine Emanuelle), Victor Israel (Horror Express) or Mirta Miller (Get Mean) at his side, the weird action trash was largely made in Spain - and for a long time was only available in below-average quality.
The German version is considered uncut and on the respective DVD probably a VHS source as used, which at least came in 1.85:1. As a bonus in full screen there was the "US version", which runs a bit shorter as well as having generally even worse quality. Mainly one additional scene (Johnny' training in the 19./20. minute) was cut additionally compared to the German version. For English-speaking interested parties it was the only alternative in digital form, since otherwise only VHS evaluations are known worldwide. Since the end of June 2023, however, there is a remedy internationally, because this rare genre title was also restored in 4K by the enthusiast label Vinegar Syndrome. Unlike the parallel released Undefeatable, however, there is "only" a Blu-ray with the new scan here. As usual, newly produced bonus material is included and the main film is in English with a few Spanish-language scenes....
...which also explains the present report. Vinegar Syndrome only offers one version on the disc and as stated in the online shop listing, there are a few scenes included here that were only available in the Spanish language version of the film. So it is more or less an exclusive longer version. Especially the extended training scene with even more lascivious movements of the woman put under hypnosis will surely please fans. In general, it is noticeable that the villainous instructor Pasco (Roger Paschy) gets much more screentime in this version and performs several more attacks on John as well as his young comrade-in-arms Johnny. Thus, the scene with the rabbit is also greatly expanded and that innocent little animal is killed - after all, very cheaply faked and thus at least it's not animal snuff. Even John's twin brother is murdered in an additional scene by Pasco.
Why all this was not included in both, for example, the German and previous US versions is hard to explain. In the audio commentary, the bits in Spanish are not addressed at all, and during the scenes, one usually simply hears the film soundtrack - suggesting that the commentary was already recorded before the footage was found and reintegrated into the film. In any case, Roger Paschy, who can be seen in the many scenes with Pasco, is Vietnamese, but has appeared in several French productions (and for the karate team there). Since he thus had at least some popularity in France and presumably Spain, this could explain the stronger focus on his character in some European releases. In any case, the film seems much more complete this way, at least if you can say that about a movie with such a confused sequence of scenes. Qualitatively anyway, of course, it's a giant step compared to all previous releases and a clear recommendation for genre fans.
Running time details are according to the scheme
US version on German DVD in 25fps / US Blu-ray in 23.976fps
By way of introduction, a small image comparison. Hands off the US version. The German version on the German DVD looked a bit better and in widescreen, but still it's missing a little bit of image on the sides and has blown-out colours.
The US Blu-ray still has the logo of Atlas Filmverleih at the start. The first shot with the car afterwards also starts a short moment earlier.
The title card after about 2.5 minutes is different. Back then, they still smuggled in some Ninjas in the US and had to redesign the title card accordingly. The Blu-ray shows the original title.
03:49 / 04:18-04:19
Master error after handshake in restaurant towards CIA logo.
Shortly after that, more small master errors. Amusing: For a few short frames, a "Play" note pops up in the upper left corner of the US version.
06:00-06:02 / 06:37
Another weird master error: Here, the picture freezes briefly in the English version of the German DVD, right before Christian Anders takes off his glasses and jumps into the fight.
+ 2 sec
This happens again at 06:42-06:43 / 07:19 and adds up another 1 sec.
19:26 / 20:34-21:32
A short training scene with Johnny in the yard is completely missing. He takes off his helmet, walks around for a few steps and punches wildly into the ground. He kicks his helmet up several times and John looks down at him with satisfaction from a balcony.
This scene was not cut in the German version on the DVD. Apart from a few shots/master errors, the German version otherwise lacks the same parts as the US version compared here.
19:41 / 21:46-22:14
After the first shots of cyborgs, the scene goes even further: a bound woman watches more violent scenes from films with a fear-filled gaze. Doctor Stahl says diabolically (like all extended dialogue bits: Spanish with English subtitles), that he has been with the CIA since 1953 and all of his people have to go through this hypnosis procedure.
32:10 / 35:14-35:19
After John hands over the business card, Johnny still turns it over in close-up.
32:41 / 35:52-36:24
Another long shot and then more communication over the radio. Pasco repeats several times that the soldier would feel tired. The guy yawns and Pasco tells Johnny to follow his instructions.
32:58 / 36:43-36:45
Another quick cut to Pasco continuing to speak to Johnny.
33:09 / 36:55-37:02
Again we cut to the amused Pasco and then the soldiers look down at the rabbit.
33:11 / 37:03-37:21
The soldiers pounce on the bunny and maul it, which is gleefully commented with "dinner" and further babbling in Spanish.
33:21 / 37:32-38:19
Towards the end, the scene is choppy. The shot of John is actually a moment longer and Johnny now runs to the soldiers with tears in his eyes, while they are laughing. After a brief exchange of blows, they tease him further by holding the animal up in front of him. John and Caroline drive away while Pasco shoots into the air again.
37:27 / 42:36-44:23
The training scene in the forest starts earlier. First we see Johnny wearing a mask, then John does some practice kicks against more masks hung on the trees. Pasco again gives hypnosis commands by radio, whereupon Susan, who is also present, lolls lasciviously against a tree. Johnny, in turn, is thus induced to attack his instructor John, but is of course defeated in the fight.
102.2 sec (= 1:42 min)
Also during the identically included footage between these two cuts, you can now hear further off-screen comments from Pasco on the Blu-ray. He also tries to speak directly to John.
37:56 / 44:53-45:11
Pasco is radioing more nonsense while Susan continues to play around with the tree. He says she is the best woman in the unit and should now attack her instructor. Susan lets go of the tree and walks in John's direction.
44:00 / 51:32-51:45
Odd: While the shot of the general runs cleanly through in one in the German/US DVD version, it is interrupted in the Blu-ray by a first shot of John and Caroline in the car. They are attacked by two masked assailants, but manage to fend them off.
47:18 / 55:11-55:28
Another shot of the birds flying around. Then John says Caroline's name and strokes her head. Finally, another bird.
47:56 / 56:08-56:38
Pasco tells over the radio that they know everything about John. He is currently dating the widow Fanny and trains in front of the Eiffel Tower every day. John is then seen in two shots performing some kicks in front of the famous landmark, while being observed by a man in the café.
50:09 / 58:57-58:59
Master error: The girl grimaces a little longer.
54:59 / 64:01-64:23
Various first shots of the surroundings and the thoughtful John in front of a fountain (Fontaine des Mers on the Place de la Concorde).
57:14 / 66:43-66:55
Before James packs his things, an exterior shot is missing, with Pasco saying off-screen that they are in California, where John's brother James would live.
59:07 / 68:52-69:06
You can still see James driving around with the car and in addition he gives a message through for John (Spanish with English subtitles): "John, I'm on my way to Germany. I will divert attention from you by making a call to the US Embassy, and telling them that I have something in my possesion that proves the innocence of my brother. It seems to me you can take the plane without any risk."
59:13 resp. 59:20-59:35 / 69:13-70:52
After the brief shot of the tarmac, we cut back to James driving. A truck blocks his way. He gets out - and suddenly several henchmen with guns jump out of the truck and shoot him down with a few bullets. When Pasco then goes to him, he realizes that this is brother James and not John. Over the radio they discuss that John must now be taken care of quickly at the airport.
Lastly, John gets on the plane and talks to the stewardesses about an urgent message for him. This part is inserted in the shorter version a few minutes later. Interesting again: During the shots of John leaving the plane, which are present in both version, only on the Blu-ray you can hear Pasco (in Spanish) briefly threatening John: "John Liu, we have your brother. Get off the plane if you want him to keep living. We will meet in the suburbs of Paris, in a town called Boulogne."
Blu-ray 80.8 sec (= 1:21 min) longer
59:35 / 71:03-71:36
At the same time, there is another additional scene during the recut: John finds his dead brother in the car and complains briefly (Spanish with subs): "Murderers.... It's all my fault. What a dirty play."
When he goes to open the door, he sees a grenade strapped there. Gently, he unties it from its loop and holds it up.
66:24 / 78:40-78:42
Master error: The man is still walking out of the frame at the end of the shot, and at the beginning of the following shot, the camera first zooms back from John.
Finally, the Blu-ray has a short text insert and the Vinegar logo.
(Slipcase shows both motives)