In the Hong Kong film pantheon, Kirk Wong's debut work The Club is considered an indispensable liên kết between the oldschool martial arts bangers of the seventies and the John Woo-influenced heroic bloodshed gangster epics of the eighties and early nineties. The raw, neon-lit & almost documentary-style images tell the story of the triad henchman Ah sai - played by Michael Chan Wai-Man. He has to compete with all kinds of hostile gangsters who are in a bitter nguồn struggle for the nightclub run by Sai's boss. At the same time, sai is allowed khổng lồ sleep with his maid - a Japanese escort girl, played by Pinku Eiga starlet Erina Miyai (Zoom In: Rape Apartments) - và a loudmouthed pimp gets his oto taken apart and avenges the murder of his boss, after he has been cut khổng lồ pieces by two assassins with outboard motors (!).

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Instead of hyper-stylized shooting orgies like the gun-fu blood operas of the coming years, the battles in The Club are fought exclusively with fists, knives, swords, axes, hammers, fans & even outboard motors. Among the actors are numerous legendary kung fu stars from Shaw Brothers' days, including Norman Tsui Siu-Keung, "Foot Doctor" Wilson Tong or Philip Ko (star of the breathtaking Shaw cult film The Boxer's Omen), who died too young in 2017. The real star is of course Michael Chan Wai-Man, who in the Cinema Of Vengeance interview described The Club wholeheartedly as "the best gangster movie ever made in Hong Kong". The man must know, because it's no secret that Chan himself is a thành viên of the triads. Even today, Chan still likes to lớn tell about his gangster life in the then so wicked district Tsim Sha Tsui, where The Club was filmed, in interviews. For director Kirk Wong - who immediately afterwards directed the cult cyberpunk hit Flash Future Kung Fu - The Club became a career launching pad, which even led him lớn Hollywood.

Even though the tough triad-smasher is considered a milestone & pioneer work for Hong Kong cinema, the current situation is a real tragedy. The last official home video clip release was about 25 years ago. The film never made it onto DVD - let alone Blu-ray. What's even worse: Each of the versions we have at hand has different flaws, none of them can be described as really uncut. Towards the kết thúc of the movie, all available versions contain curious cuts on archive pictures of police operations during a violent scene (Sai stabs an enemy gangster boss). Whether this is intentional or censorship, we can't say. Also the legal situation around the used songs seems lớn be problematic: As it is not unusual for Hong Kong productions from that time, The Club cheerfully used soundtracks from other movies and contemporary rock songs. Most of them already had to be removed on the English Ocean Shores VHS, so it's questionable if the original sound could be released today without any problems & without a lawyer's letter from RIAA & Co. Whether this film will ever be released again - let alone uncensored, with original soundtrack and in acceptable quality - is up in the air.

For this report, the cut Hong Kong VCD by Vascon Limited / Film city Distribution Ltd. & the also cut British VHS by Eastern Heroes were used. Furthermore, these two versions were compared to lớn the English language VHS by Ocean Shores and the HK laserdisc by Ocean Shores. Since each of these versions contains scenes that are not included in any of the other versions mentioned, this material is marked RED in the report.

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This Hong Kong VCD by Vascon Limited / Film đô thị Distribution Ltd. Is interesting for fans of the film for several reasons. On the one hand, there is once again some exclusive material to admire (including an "alternate ending" with additional text overlays), & on the other hand, unlike all other versions of The Club that we know of, they seem to have used a different master. All the other versions we've seen so far (the UK VHS, the English-language Ocean Shores tape, và the Hong Kong laserdisc) have the same look: blurry, bluish, và with contrast levels that are - let us just say it off the vị trí cao nhất of our heads - terrible. The VCD beats the competition by far in terms of detail và contrast, despite the lousy 384x288 resolution typical for the medium. The following picture comparison between VCD & the Eastern Heroes cassette speaks volumes:

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For fun's sake, here's the same scene on the English Ocean Shores cassette (any help here is really too late!) & on the Ocean Shores laserdisc:

Ocean Shores VHSOcean Shores Laserdisc
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Also the subtitles, although identical in content to those of the Eastern Heroes VHS appear in a different font.

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The VCD makes the biggest mistake in terms of picture unique in dark scenes. During the duel in Sai's room, you can't see anything because of the darkness.

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The Eastern Heroes VHS is missing 53 seconds compared to the Hong Kong VCD.There are 30.9 seconds missing on the Hong Kong VCD compared to lớn the Eastern Heroes VHS, of which 19.8 seconds are company logos. Furthermore, there are various discrepancies in the credits and sound mix, which will be discussed in more detail in the report.

An urgent request:We are still looking for comparative material! In addition to lớn the Eastern Heroes VHS discussed here, Eastern Heroes has released a cassette marked "Full Uncut Version" in their Gods Gamblers & Gangsters Collection. Here, it would be interesting khổng lồ compare whether the tape actually contains a different version or if it is just the same cassette with a new cover design. Also, the subtitled VHS released by Ocean Shores in Hong Kong is not available khổng lồ us yet.If you are in possession of one of these versions, please tương tác us in the comments or via e-mail! Thanks a lot!