General overview of versions
Original version 1973: The Cub Tiger From Kwang Tung
Runtime: 85:26 min (NTSC)
Recut 1979: Master With Cracked Fingers
Uses a little less than half the original footage, was ramped up with own plot and many new scenes. Designed to be more humorous as Jackie gained fame with Kung-Fu-comedies Drunken Master and Snake in the Eagle's Shadow shortly before in Asia.
There are several versions of this one:
1. "Asian Version"
Runtime: 81:40 min (PAL)
Runtime: 83:07 min (PAL) / 86:40 min (NTSC)
Runtime: ~ 78:30 min (PAL / NTSC)
In 1971, Cub Tiger From Kwang Tung was supposed to be the first main role for then-17-year-old Jackie Chan. The cheap production was faced with several problems though, and if you believe e.g. Jackie's biography (which he didn't write himself), the work was never finished, let alone released.
This may not be the case, though, since there is a DVD available from Japan (by JVD), England and Canada (by Rarescope) for a couple of years now, which contains the original film, which has apparently also been released in a few Asian theaters in 1973.
More famous on a worldwide scale, though, is the result of some shifty producers, which got first released in 1979, titled Master With Cracked Fingers. After Jackie became a star one year earlier with Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master, roughly half of the original footage was taken, a new plot was created and some scenes were reshot with an obvious Jackie-double. Only here you find Simon Yuen Siu-Tin, who became famous from the just mentioned blockbusters, as Jackie's master (mostly in scenes with a small child as Kid-jackie, otherwise in often rather unfitting cuts, in which he is standing in completely different surroundings compared to Jackie from the "real" footage) and Dean Shek is also allowed to present his Punch-and-Judy-show. All in all a doubtful pleasure, even though it does have a corny charme to it.
The following report deals with this new version, as there exist differing versions of this for the English and the Asian market.
The German DVD-re-release
Since May 20th, 2011, there is a re-release available in Germany by small label Voulez-Vous, which steals all the previous German and international releases' shows.
While the really catastrophal old German DVD by M.I.B., which was also released by several associated labels, comes with a strongly zoomed aspect ratio of 1.56:1 and lowest VHS-quality including soiling and other inelegances, the Voulez-Vous-release is available in remastered, really incredible image quality, anamorphous and in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. As a sidenote, the master was apparently taken from the new Spanish DVD.
What makes this release stand out in comparison to said Spanish DVD (aside the - for local audiences probably important - German dubbing) is the nice choice of versions in the bonus section. To get into more details, the following alternatives are offered:
- Main film: Asian version
The remastered and thus quality-wise by far best version. Footage, that was until now not available in Germany was fortunately dubbed.
- English version
All the old German DVDs were based on this version, but were additionally cut for about 5 minutes. Scenes that were up until now not released in Germany resp. were not dubbed for the DVD-release in the first place are, contrary to the main film, kept in English language with optional subtitles.
As a master, it is probable that either the Japanese DVD by Pioneer or the US-DVD by Videoasia has been used. Either way, the film is also presented in the original format (unfortunately not anamorphous, though) and is superior to the M.I.B.-version by far, but compared to the main film, the quality is worse.
The old German DVD-version
M.I.B. uses a (badly contained) English master for the early DVD-releases, so for one the additional scene from another film in the beginning was not contained any more and on the other hand several scenes were only contained with the bad English dubbing with fixed German subtitles. This fact, that is to say the relinquishing of a German redubbing of said scenes were, by the way, described with the ridiculous phrase "to maintain the film's original character" on the box...
Whatever, even though this version was longer than the one released in Germany before, it was far from being uncut, as falsely noted on the cover. German youth protection may not be the reason for this fact, though, because this version was also released a.o. in Great Britain, Canada and USA (before an uncut version was released there afterwards). Another hint that both versions of the film was available internationally.
The in total 5 missing minutes are almost completely made up of plot cuts in the middle of the film. A doubtful pleasure to get to see EVEN MORE annoying fooling-around by Dean Shek... The almost eigth minutes long cut in the old German VHS-version was, subjectively spoken, not that inappropriate at all and so, audiences may find their pleasure in the "German short version", which was cleansed of the grand majority of these scenes. Other noted differences in the course of the film are probably only slightly longer film tears, but they are listed as "cuts" anyways due to their length of more than 0.5 sec.
Runtimes are ordered as follows:
Old M.I.B.-DVD in PAL-speed / English version on the German DVD-rerelease in PAL-speed
The compared version of Master with Cracked Fingers at hand was the English one on the German DVD as the old German version is based on this one. The picturized footage is, aside from the completely different finale, identical in the Asian version, so this one was used to make screenshots as its image quality is far superior.
00:00-00:14 / 00:00
Only the old German version features another production logo in the beginning.
+ 14.6 sec
The old German version has only got English credits, during the training-scene in the beginning and the subsequent death of Jackie's father, the uncut versions on the other hand offer bilingual credits resp. additionally Asian characters up until the next scene.
Also, there is a freeze in the German version as the translated German title appears. Thereafter the film continues right in the middle of the following shot, meaning a few moments are dropped without any actual time difference.
26:58 / 26:44-26:45
Rather long film tear: Jackie's uncle first turns away before uttering the punishment.
38:10 / 37:58-38:01
Jumpcut in the middle of the shot, Jackie actually rubs his hand longer against the log.
43:17 / 43:08-44:17
More dull talking before the board game is brought.
44:54 / 45:54-46:18
Again more fooling around before the master prays and puts down his doctored gaming piece.
47:26 / 48:50-49:06
Dean Shek brabbles something about pain in the crotch, then the master beats him to the ground with the pipe. Some stupid talking follows.
49:28 / 51:08-51:19
The master mocks a little longer, Shek reacts.
49:29 / 51:20-51:36
After sheck then stumbled towards the master in a sideways shot, the old German version cuts off again.
A few more steps follow, Shek is hit and pointless dialogue follows.
49:53 / 52:00-52:39
The audience of the old German version is missing out on some more "funny" banter: Shoe in Shek's mouth, games with the pipe and more punches for him.
50:17 / 53:03-54:42
After the old German version also unfortunately featured several farts to the face, it misses Shek trying it some more and getting beat to no end by the master. After standing around confusedly with his girls, the master pushes him onto a table once more. The old German version continues as he crawls away from under it.
61:24 / 65:49-65:50
The shot starts a little earlier, Jackie kneels offscreen.
61:32 / 65:58-66:00
A shot of the bad guy between the two shots of Jackie is missing.
73:05 / 77:33-77:34
Jackie moves a short moment longer.
The old German version fades "Ende" into the frame itself, the English version shows a red board with the words "The End" written on it in white and is thus a little longer in the final seconds.
English version 6 sec longer