Comparison between the UK DVD by Hong Kong Legends (Platinum Edition) and the old US DVD by 20th Century Fox (Master Collection)
UK DVD: 96:02 min in PAL
Old US DVD: 100:13 min in NTSC (= 96:07 min in PAL)
- 3 scenes, in which the old US DVD is longer (16,3 sec)
- 3 scenes, in which the UK DVD is longer (10,7 sec)
Other differences in running time are due to alternative logos and an earler fade out in the old US version
Bruce Lee's The Big Boss from 1971 has been interesting to movie fans for years because of it's several lost scenes and potentially different cut version. For example, it is highly improbable that scenes like the infamous saw in head part or Lee's second visit at the brothel will be seen anytime soon.
All in all, there are two different versions who are pretty "complete" (relatively) and who have been used as masters for various newer releases. This is a comparison of these two.
None of these can be called perfect because of the visible cuts, but the popular cut version can be considered best due to it's better image quality and availability.
Following is a general overview of the various releases as well as some information about certain peculiarities and missing material that hasn't been released yet.
The cut versions
1. Popular version
2. Old US version
The popular cut version is based on a master by Fortune Star. It shows a camera pan along the bad guy's blood smeared body, but lacks the rest of the shot shortly afterwards when the two rivals circle each other and the camera performs a 360° turn. Also missing is, as well as some rather short and insignificant moments (probably mastering mistakes), a complete shot, in which James Tien and others come walking towards the factory.
The most well-known releases containing this version are:
- HKL from the UK (Platinum Edition und Special Edition DVD)
- 20th Century Fox from the USA (new) DVD
- IVL/Fortune Star from Hongkong (DVD)
- Kam & Ronson from Hongkong (Blu-ray
- Spectrum from Korea (DVD
- Geneon / Fortune Star from Japan (DVD)
- Metropolitan aus Frankreich (DVD
This release was additionally censored:
BMG Video/UFA (DVD)
The old US version offers the complete 360° turn, but lacks the shot before that or at least it's beginning. The shot of the men running towards the factory is also featured, addtionally, there are some mastering mistakes here, too.
This version is available with the confusing title Fists Of Fury in the following releases in the US:
- 20th Century Fox (old US DVD)
- CBS FOX (VHS)
- CBS Fox (Laserdisc)
There are also some other cut versions, in which the peculiarities of the first two are either combined somehow or which even offer new material. Three of them are the most important, those will also be covered by other comparisons.
a) German UFA VHS version(FSK 18)
This version contains all of the footage seen on the two main versions plus many short moments that are not included in the other versions. A small comparison of this version with the other two talked about here will be included at the end.
Unfortunately though, this version was cut at certain points to get a FSK rating.
b) The old French cut version, taken from a VHS by René Chateau (VHS)
Here, apparently the same master as for the German UFA tape was used, because the longer movie snippets can be found here, too. However, the complete part in the factory, when James Tien and the others ask for their colleagues, another plot scene afterwards and a part of the final fight are missing in this version. Despite the rather heavy overall cutting, this is the so far only version which shows the ending scene without a single piece missing.
c) The UK VHS version, taken from the VHS by Polygram Video / 4 Front Video
In the first half, this version follows the popular version, but then switches to the old US version in the finale.
Due to many censored scenes it can't really be recommended in comparison with the other versions.
Lost material / Deleted Scenes
As already mentioned: Many scenes allegedly were additionally included/ longer in the original screening and, mainly due to the long time that has passsed, there probably will never be a final answer to the rumors that are being spread in the net. Of course, it is nothing special that some of the filmed footage isn't used in the finished movie, but because of the many abruptly ending scenes in both of the two versions here it will continue to be an interesting topic.
Many useful information about this can be found on this page, which is recommendable to every fan and mystery solver.
Roundup: Promotional material like showcase pictures or the 8mm trailer can give hints. Most well known should be:
- James Tien's Bleeding Head (shortly before his death he is being hurt at the head)
- Body Parts in Ice (Lee finds more corpse pieces)
- Saw in the Head (The cut here should attract everybody's attention)
- Second Prostitute (a complete scene in which Lee visits the brothel a second time)
On this page, eight other scenes are being presented in depth and accompanied by rare footage.
It is important to mention the UK DVD by Hong Kong Legends (Platinum Edition) here; the bonus section offers the 8mm trailer as well as some deleted scenes' parts.
(This was written in cooperation with Mr. White)
The UK DVD was used as basis for this comparison, therefore the missing scenes there are written in normal print, those that are missing in the old US version are written in italics.
Running time designations are formatted like this
UK DVD in PAL / Old US DVD in NTSC
00:00-00:49 / 00:00-00:38
HKL 12,2 sec longer
The opening credits are different, the US DVD e.g. does not use Chinese letters. The old US DVD uses the confusing alternative title Fists Of Fury.
(Background: The Big Boss was supposed to be released under the name The Chinese Connection and Fist of Fury was only supposed to be changed into Fists Of Fury. Somehow, on the way over, the titles have been switched and were included in the credits. Until today, to solve this confusion, the easiest way is to look for the plural s in the title.
24:23 / 25:12-25:18
The infamous Factory Run: After the workers in the ice factory have been killed and "disposed" the following shot is missing. Before Hsiu (James Tien) and the other ones ask for their missing colleagues one can see them approaching.
(The film reel containing this scene is better than the old UFA tape (partly because of the aspect ratio) but it's nevertheless pretty worn out. Because of this the shot is missing in newer releases.)
25:23-25:26 / 26:21
Hsiu can be seen longer and turns his head further upwards in the HKL version. The beginning shot of the manager also starts a bit earlier.
(Hsui says "First, Wong disappeared without a trace...")
+ 3 sec
25:31 / 26:26-26:29
The difference in running time from the last cut is being compensated when Hsiu can be seen longer here.
94:05 / 97:58
Before Cheng gets up, Mi can be seen a short moment longer with the knife in his belly in the HKL.
+ 0,6 sec
94:06-94:13 / 98:00
The HKL is again longer. At first the shot of Cheng with his hands at Mi's chest longer, then there is an additional camera pan along his blood smeared belly.
+ 7,1 sec
94:14 / 98:01-98:09
After 1 sec of identical material, the old version has more to offer again and shows the rest of the turn/ end of the shot.
(Then the follwing longshot makes more sense when Cheng is standing right and Mi left)
The HKL only shows an "The End" overlay at the end, however, in the old US DVD the picture is getting smaller and the text overlays can be seen earlier.
The German UFA tape has, except a censorship in the final scene, surprisingly more to offer than both HKL and old US version.
13:09 / 13:30
The shot of the talk between Cheng and Hsiu starts a bit earlier.
13:38 / 14:00
The gangsters can be seen longer before the fight starts. The guy with the yellow top continues to threaten onscreen and raises his hand again.
17:25 / 17:57
The beard scene: On the old German tape one can see Cheng and his friend longer, his friend mimics the chargeheand (beard and plait).
21:39 / 22:22
The two workers look at the managertrying to bribe them longer (because of the zoomed aspect ratio the money he is holding to him is not visible).
22:01 / 22:44
The manager can be seen shortly longer.
22:02 / 22:45
After the workers nod the following medium long view starts earlier on the tape.
24:22 / 25:12
The Fabric Run scene has already been described earlier. However, the shot that is missing in the new versions is even longer here, the boys are walking longer.
When James Tien and the managertalk both of the already mentioned shots are longer!
The German tape is therefore 3 sec longer.
25:31 / 26:29
The following shot also starts earlier.
29:51 / 31:00
Mi answers earlier when Hsiu is complaining about not receiving any news.
In the German version he ironically asks whether he could change that, but because the dialogues are often very different in German he could have said something else in the original.
66:20 / 69:03
The chat between Mi and Cheng starts earlier.
In the old German version he says that it would be remarkable that no one knew anything about Hsiu (again he might have said something else originally).
67:37 / 70:23
The shot of Mi starts earlier, he praises Cheng.
74:17 / 77:20
Before she shows Cheng the burning mark on her breast, the prostitute can be seen a bit longer.
In the ending scene it gets complicated and the German version shows a mixture of the two versions already discussed.
At first we see Mi with the knife in his belly (just as in the HKL version), but then the rest of the scene is the same as on the old US DVD with only one exception when one can se a part of the camera pan along his belly.
Probably the missing part consisting of Cheng with the fingers in Mi's chest and part of the camera pan has been censored by German authorities.
All in all the German tape is 6,1 sec longer than the old US DVD.