Phoenix the Ninja
Gai shi ji hua
Oh dear…today we have a particularly obscure – how do the Americans name it – Kung Fu Flick, which is only enjoyable for engrained fans. Named as termination of a trilogy the first two titles ("Wolf Devil Woman" and "Matching Escort") have never found their way to my country. I personally don’t see any relation between these flicks except that actress Ling Chung directed and had the leading role in all of them. And not to forget that they all have their origin in the powerful Chinese mythology.
The story of this Fantasy Swords play Spectacle can be told within 2 words: Mai, the eponymous heroine on her way across the country to accomplish the legacy of her slaughtered family. The last will provides vengeance on the family’s enemies – something absolutely new! Who they are, is told us en passant when they pass on, but why they nurse a grudge against the family doesn’t becomes clear enough. Right at the end when baddie no.1 is challenged to fight the „Family-Super-Sword” gets used – and that was about it. In the meantime she gets to know a prince along with his son. Sonny, the scholar of the family, is also a real good fighter but why, how come and wherefore? Uninteresting! But Daddy is a cute and extremely nice guy who also may taste Mai’s revenge – but fortunately the Good Fairy (that’s true folks) appears just in time to prevent the slaughter. Oh yeah and the here so called "White Fairy" first prevents Mai commit suicide and then takes her under her wing to give her an understanding of the family history. In doing so, the avenger gets roasted over the camp fire like a pig and afterwards packed in ice – may harden oneself, this doesn’t destroy her but rather transforms her to a flying superwoman (honest!). I will try this on me one time…and all this stuff is accompanied with stolen Score from Hollywood - "The Twilight Zone" and "Mad Max II" spontaneously crosses my mind.
This short synopsis should be sufficient enough to present the absurdity of this movie to the gentle reader of this report and bringing beads of sweat to his brow. Even technically this flick is extremely bad the fights are lousy choreographed, endless wire-works – but way back from the class of the Shaw Studios! And guess what: Joseph Lai has been at least responsible for the foreign distribution. But who is Lai you might ask? He is the main producer of Godfrey Ho! Yep, this Godfrey…and when we start digging deeper we can state that the good Ho probably had his finger in the pie. Listed at IMDB as co-director but when we have a closer look on that we find his hallmarks in the constant zooming on faces, the silly slow-motion jumps and the Freeze-Framing! And so the brainless kludge finally makes sense – because who, except Ho is able to merge a pulp out of a chaotic jammed film? No one, isn’t it? Besides, it is almost proved evidence, that the name "Fong Ho" at IMDB (so the director on the cover and in the credits) is listed as pseudonym of our friendly trash master from the neighborhood. Another possible explanation might also be that he just is responsible for the export version (on behalf of the Lai-Group IFD) and due to cuts just earned a credit.
Now let’s face the essentials of the versions for this comparison. Compared has been the shortened German VHS which features the Export Version
with the namely uncensored Hong Kong-Laserdisc (Ocean Shores)
, whereas the Hong Kong version goes without one plot sequence only featured in the PRE-CENSORED Export Version. Therefore it is the worldwide only version featuring all gore details. I cannot say if the German VHS has got some more cuts later on due to missing further comparison material but I dare to believe in so. Besides, there are different opening and closing credits in both versions. There is also the fact that the Export Version features Wide Screen but has been extremely darkened (in some scenes it’s nighttime but in the badly cropped to Full-Screen Hong Kong Version it’s daylight). Just to save space I’m going to enumerate the differences in one go. The missing plot sequence in the Hong Kong Version is italicized in the report. Jump cuts below one second haven’t been considered, the cutting times have been rounded up or down to full seconds. And one more point: I know that the images are beneath contempt but the sources haven’t delivered better ones. Especially the Laser Disc doesn’t deserve its name.
So, Guys, have fun......
In addition I give profuse thanks to spannick, who made this report possible providing me the comparison materials.
Export Version = 85:35 Min.
Hong Kong Version = 83:13 Min.
Difference Export Version = 222 seconds within 7 differences
Difference Hong Kong Version = 358 seconds in one scene
Right at the beginning there is a difference of the opening credits. The Export Version has only 2 more inserts besides the title.
The Hong Kong Version comes up with more credits in different shaped settings.
Export Version = 25 sec.
Hong Kong Version = 95 sec.
Total difference: ( 70 sec. )
Alternative frame material
Two landscapes while changing scene.
( 3 sec. )
Missing sequence in the Hong Kong Version:
After the landscapes only the Export Version features an extra plot: In the evening Mai and her mother stumble in a small town asking for a doctor but there isn’t any. She’s begging an employee for help and they both bring her mother into a kind of a hotel. The manager is not overly excited about this trying to get rid of the two women sending them back in the cold. This is the first appearance of the White Fairy who bawls the manager out thoroughly and picks up Mai’s and Mom‘s tab. In the room upstairs Mai gives thanks to the Fairy who then tells her that her mother has just died. A little bit of howling and then both versions again run synchronic with the scene of the funeral.
( 5:58 Min. )
Mai, meanwhile on daggers drawn kills the first enemy on the roof running a sword into his stomach. The following close-up view of the sword pulled out garnished with guts can only be seen in the Hong Kong Version!
( 7 sec. )
The final battle bathed in red light contains some gory details only in the Hong Kong Version. First of all it is missing when she breaks Sifu’s skull with the sword who steps back. This scene then goes a little further when the camera moves closer and blood spreads out of the slashing wound.
( 3 sec. )
Mai again headed for but now the close-up view where she runs the sword into the baddie’s body which emerges from his back.
( 2 sec. )
The hermit crab draws out the sword of his body in slow motion, with guts got caught on it. It bothers him, so he doesn’t think twice and tears them off.
( 14 sec. )
The counter cut on Mai is contained but the close-up view of the baddie brandishing his guts garnished sword is missing.
( 3 sec. )
Both versions also end different. The only similarity is the close-up view from the face of the exhausted Mai after the fight in the red cave. After that the Export Version comes up with a previous seen shot before the tablet “The End” appears on screen. At this point the Hong Kong Version comes up with more scenes seen before in the movie. Principally she just remembers whereas it takes much longer in the Hong Kong Version.
Export Version = 10 sec.
Hong Kong Version = 130 sec.
Total difference = ( 120 sec. )
Alternative frame material