Compared are the cut UK VHS by VPD (BBFC 18) and the uncut movie role.
- 41 cuts, among them 3 with alternate footage
- Length difference: 206.2 sec (= 3:26 min) [in PAL]
There are several jump cuts under 1 sec, especially in the UK Version (there are some shots that are a few frames longer though!). These jump cuts are the reason for the length difference of almost 1 min and have not been considered in the following comparison.
"Pray for Death" is one of the more popular contributions to the wave of ninja flicks in the 80s and Sho Kosugi is doing what he always does. Even though he only kicks some ass in the second half, the merciless gangster plot in the first half is quite entertaining for action fans. Especially the villain's nasty odd-job man knows how to make interesting to watch. His ruthless actions are the reason why the movie had huge problems in its country of origin. A cool 4 minutes were cut in order to get the R-Rating. In the UK, cuts of a similiar length were only - only here, the ninja weapons caused the problems (as usual in the UK). In the German Version, approx. 1 minute was missing.
Getting an Uncut Version was not as easy as it seems, the French and Greek VHS releases were uncut for instance but the releases were also zoomed in to fullscreen. As expected, only the R-Rated Version has gotten an HD release so far. In the US, it has been released by MGM years ago.
The following comparison is about the UK Version and the Uncut Version. The latter was available as original movie role from France with the original aspect ratio. Being zoomed in and cut, the UK Version is the perfect example why the original aspect ratio is so valuable - putting the censorship aspect aside. Other than that, the UK Version contains a lot of the missing footage removed for the R-Rating. In the finale however, the UK Version is cut so heavily that it is hard to follow the action on the screen.
Time index refers to
UK VHS in PAL / Uncut Movie Roll in NTSC
Logos / Credits
No logos in the UK Version, the opening credits immediately start (in English while the French movie role contains French opening credits).
French Movie Role 6 sec longer
01:19 / 01:32-01:36
Akira reaches for his pocket and gets out a ninja star. Then he throws it in his opponent's forehead.
01:32 / 01:50-01:54
Akira has another ninja star and kills another opponent with it.
09:24-09:29 / 10:11-10:16
Interestingly, the the tracking shot to Akira is much longer in the UK Version before the transition to the flashback. The uncut movie role contains an effect at an earlier point resp. the image is blurry before the flashback starts. The US HD master contains the same blurring effect by the way.
12:37-12:41 / 13:49-13:53
Same here at the end of the flashback.
28:38 / 30:27-30:35
Limehouse strikes more blows upon Sam whose dead body is shown several times while his buddy is talking to him.
29:09 / 31:08-31:16
Limehouse makes a dismissive comment while his buddy keeps spreading out the gas.
38:07 / 40:45-40:51
Limehouse positions the knife and cuts Akira's chest. He still keeps a straight face.
38:09 / 40:53-40:59
Before the shot of Tomoya, Limehouse also says he was obviously going to have some fun.
38:32 / 41:22-41:25
Limehouse slowly comes closer with the Bunsen burner and points out again he was going to have lots of fun with Akira.
38:36 / 41:29-41:33
The shot starts earlier. As a result, Limehouse makes a sadistic comment before he turns back to Tomoya.
38:42 / 41:39-41:42
Limehouse swings the Bunsen burner in front of Tomoya's eyes.
55:55 / 59:57-60:08
Limehouse drags the two bloody cop bodies across the hallway.
57:12 / 61:27-62:02
Limehouse opens Aiko's top and lifts her leg. A rape is not actual shows but it is very well implied.
57:29 / 62:20-62:27
The first (off-screen) stab is in the UK Version - right before the shot of the weapon smeared in blood but this is it. Actually, Limehouse then stabs her again.
64:40 / 70:03-70:19
At the end of the shot, Limehouse spots resp. hears a whining waitress. He asks what was up because he was not hurting her after all. Then she shoots her.
(Please note: Contrary to the US Version, the previous shootout remains entirely untouched).
70:13 / 76:10-76:24
Tomoya gets out some nunchuks and takes out the goons. Then he snatches a bike and leaves.
70:43 / 76:57-76:59
Akira gets out a throwing star and hits a baddie right in the head with it.
71:02 / 77:19-77:23
And again: Akira kills some attackers with ninja stars.
76:52 / 83:33-83:35
Akira throws a ninja in Limehouse's direction but it ends up in the head of a mannequin.
78:24 / 85:11-85:12
Akira pulls out his nunchucks.
78:29 / 85:17-85:18
Short additional shot of Limehouse twisting the stick in Akira's leg.
78:31 / 85:20-85:23
A first shot of the stick in the leg. The small shot of Limehouse running off had to be cut for continuity reasons.
79:33 / 86:28-86:30
At the end of the shot, Akira uses his nunchucks to block Limehouse's punches.
79:34 / 86:31-86:40
Subequently, he chokes Limehouse with the nunchucks but he manages to get his hands on the stick and pokes around in his wound.
79:39 / 86:45-86:46
Small shot of Akira's wound before Limehouse is running up the stairs.
79:44 / 86:50-87:03
After Limehouse fled, Akira stanches the blood-leaking wound.
80:23 / 87:44-87:45
At the end of the shot, the nunchucks actually flash resp. Akira throws them forward.
80:34 / 87:57-88:02
Right before the small family flashback, Limehouse actually throws another punch and goes for the wound again.
Alternate / Recut
80:35-80:36 / 88:03-88:04
The end of the flashback actually shows the shot of Takeshi on the ground with a bloody noise - a brief moment earlier in the UK Version.
Instead, the UK Version (and also the US Version) now shows Limehouse's punch from the previous cut.
UK Version 1 sec longer (Length difference without the alternate shot: 0.5 sec)
80:37 / 88:05-88:08
Limehouse keeps pulling the bandage.
80:53 / 88:24-88:26
The shot starts earlier. As a result, it begins with a close-up of the shiny ninja star Akira uses to get free.
80:54 / 88:26-88:27
The shot of the ninja stuck in the console with the stop button is longer resp. only in these last frames, it is actually recognizable as such.
81:00 / 88:33-88:37
Akira evades the attacks with the chainsaw.
82:01 / 89:41-89:45
Banged up by the headnutt, Limehouse stumbles backwards and Akira kicks in slow motion.
82:03 / 89:47-89:49
Akira picks up two ninja spears at the beginning of the shot.
82:04 / 89:50-89:58
At the end of the shot, Akira rams the spears into Limehouse's hand.
82:06 / 90:00-90:08
Akira does not only put Limehouse's feet up but he also nails the leg at the end of the shot.
82:28 / 90:31-90:32
The console with the stop button for the saw earlier again. As a result, the ninja star is more recognizable.
82:42 / 90:47-90:48
When the saw comes closer, one gets to see fixed hands of Limehouse for a brief moment.
82:47 / 90:53-91:01
Limehouse still comes closer to the saw with his hands fixed while Akira walks away.
82:54 / 91:08-91:10
86:13 / 94:37-94:45
The detective throws a ninja star to Akira before they say goodbye.