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Five Shaolin Masters

original title: Siu lam ng jo

Comparison:

  • Arrow Video Blu-ray
  • German TVP DVD
Release: Jan 15, 2022 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the British Blu-ray by Arrow Video and the German DVD by TVP.


- 1 relevant missing part
- Cut duration: 1.6 sec

Several other master errors/"framecuts" with a duration of less than 1 sec each were not listed in the report.

Available in the UK since 20th December 2021 and US since 28th December 2021 from aficionado label Arrow Video, the box set entitled "Shawscope Vol. 1" is a must-have for any fan of Asian action cinema. Included are 12 films from the legendary Shaw Brothers studio, plus lots of newly produced bonus material and a 60-page book. Version-wise, the original cut of Chinatown Kid, finally restored for the first time, is a special feature. This one's even a bit longer than previously available on VHS. There are also 6 other films (so including Chinatown Kid it's 7 titles) available for the first time in new restorations from Arrow Video. The other 5 films are the same as Celestial's versions, already released on other Blu-rays worldwide.

Those who are somewhat familiar with the Shaw films should know that the versions on DVD and Blu-ray, which have been in common use worldwide since the mid-2000s, often have "framecuts". The Asian rights holder Celestial messed this up during the restoration: frames around the splices between individual shots or fractions damaged for whatever reasons were rigorously cut instead of carefully reconstructing the moments or simply leaving them as they were. Depending on the length of the film, this resulted in a loss of up to 5 minutes of running time, which is hardly noticeable during normal viewing. Fights in particular, however, often seem a bit jerky due to the quick shots being cut further for a few frames each. Annoyingly, some shots were also completely lost from time to time. That's why it was so exciting to see what the 7 new Arrow restorations might finally reveal in comparison to previous versions.

In the reports for The Boxer of Shantung, Chinatown Kid, King Boxer (5 Fingers of Death), Crippled Avengers, The Five Venoms and Dirty Ho we have already collected the additional material of all these new Arrow restorations. However, reports still resulted from two other films in the box, where the Arrow versions can be considered cut thanks to the Celestial template.

Five Shaolin Masters is included on disc 3 in the set and that is ONLY the Celestial version. Here, the international comparison and a look at the situation in Germany is exciting. The difference in runtime is irrelevant in this case and virtually non-existent. However, the German DVD has an added single mini-scene in a fight scene in minute 3 of the VHS. The British Blu-ray is based on the Celestial master in this case, without said insert. That's the main reason for this report.

Curiously, though, in the bonus material you'll find the 10-minute "US opening credits", which were sampled from a theatrical reel and are accordingly in HD. So you don't get to enjoy this mini-moment in the film itself, but on the same disc as well. Moreover, in these 10 minutes alone you can find another scene with a duration of more than 3 seconds, which was lost in the Celestial restoration and was not inserted in the TVP release. The label has only added selected material. That the German release is "uncut" can thus be doubted. Who knows what else could have been found in the rest of the complete US theatrical reel.

Runtimes are ordered as follows: Arrow Video Blu-ray / TVP DVD in PAL

The introductory logo of Celestial's framecuts culprits is missing from Arrow Video's new Blu-ray - but is placed on the disc individually before the film.

+ 11 sec




For that, Arrow has another company reference after the Shawscope logo. Chang's Film co. is the actual production company before the Shaw Brothers bought out the film at hand.

It seems that this logo was deliberately added to the Celestial master in order to reconstruct the film more or less true to the original. It's a pity that this was not continued later with the framecuts.

19,7 sec




03:47 / 03:21-03:23

Tsai Hung fends off some monks with his swinging axe. In the process, there's a longer shot here where a guy in front of him is somersaulting to the ground. Tsai Hung's axe touches him there again. The following shot also starts a bit earlier.

The moment is clearly more harmless than the use of a swinging axe would suggest. Still, of course, a striking miss. It's just a pity that the VHS source used by TVP has to struggle with lag effects. Thus, the movement looks quite unattractive.

1,6 sec






Now for comments on the bonus segment on the Arrow disc: The first 10 minutes of what must have been an American theatrical print are filed here in HD. The menu lists them as "alternate opening credits", but the hidden attraction here is that you can also discover the footage missing from the main film.

Runtimes are ordered as follows: Arrow Video Main Movie / Arrow Video Alternate Opening Credits


03:47 / 03:32-03:34

Now here is the same missing footage that was added to the German DVD from VHS. The theatrical print excerpt from the bonus material of Arrow has heavily worn colors, but still looks a bit better in quality, has no trailing effects, and is in true HD.

Note: We did not have the German Blu-ray, but there the spot is said to have been inserted from a theatrical reel as well, fortunately. This one probably came from Germany, as the German opening credits sequence can be found as an HD scan in the bonus material.

1,7 sec




05:28 / 05:15-05:18

Before David Chiang emerges from the grass in the back, the shot begins much earlier. Two men walk through the front of the frame, and the camera moves with them to the left. Then the camera pauses and you see the legs still walking out of the frame to the left. Here, a small jump cut occurs, which was probably the reason for the cut in the Celestial master.

Conspicuously long missing part in the Celestial master and thus incomprehensible that they didn't include this at TVP as well. Despite massive cuts elsewhere, this would also have been included on the German VHS used for the other insert. But obviously, they only focused on more violent-looking missing footage instead of including such longer moments as well. Thus, one can only speculate what other parts could have been found on the complete U.S. theatrical print if Arrow had also put it on the disc in its entirety instead of just the first 10 minutes.

3,3 sec




About the different inserts: During the introductory title sequence, the US credits image freezes, while the camera continues to pull back for the original version. Otherwise, as expected, English vs original.

Celestial master (Arrow + TVP)Arrow Video Alternate Opening Credits