Many times, a US or European version of a HK movie will have a different name. Sometimes this is done to give the movie a more interesting/exploitative title in order to attract new viewers, other times it is done to try and make the buyer think it is a new movie. At any rate, this area can be very confusing for both the HK film novice and expert. This list is far from complete (some movies, especially "old school" kung fu ones, can have anywhere from three to ten alternate titles), but hopefully it will be of some assistance to you.
Thanks to John Charles for providing much of the information here concerning the Arena re-titlings through a original post on the Mobius Home Video Forum. Also, thanks go out to Brian Camp, "silverfox", "joe86", "FredClau", "leo86", "Ol' Battlemonkey", "mike", Paul Kazee, Darryl Pestilence, Carl Morano, Linn Haynes, Mike Leeder, "Phil", "Sifu Tu Long", Marla Hill, Bruce Long and "BlaBlazo72" on alt.asian-movies/Mobius and through e-mail for pointing out some errors and making some additions. If you would like to contribute to the list, feel free to e-mail me.
A few notes:
- Almost every movie released through Arena or Xenon Video has been re-titled/re-edited and should be approached with caution -- if only for the fact that some of their transfers have horrible quality. They will also re-title movies to make them seem like sequels, and many times the box art and still don't match the movie inside. I must admit that I am no expert in old-school movies (which are what most of the Xenon releases are). I have tried my best to note the picture sound quality of each particular version.
- The spate of "Wu Tang" or movies with "hip-hop" titles (inspired by the rap group Wu-Tang Clan) released by various companies (most notably Arena) have nothing to do with the band, and most often have only a small connection with Shaolin/Wu-Tang plots.
- Some HK movies, such as most of those directed by Joseph Lai, Godfrey Ho and Thomas Tang, use/splice in footage from older films. I have tried (to the best of my knowledge) to list the original title used for the bulk of the footage for these films.
- Here's some info I got from a video distributor about Arena/Xenon: "As the official distributor of Ocean Shores Video on the net and in the USA, it makes me sick to my stomach that Xenon does this to me, my company and, worst of all, my movies. We have spent many years and thousands of dollars transferring these movies onto videotape. And then all of a sudden, these bozos come along and steal our masters from one of our British license holders (Eastern Heroes in London -- they have the UK rights, but not the rights to sell them overseas). By the way, the Arena tapes are cheaper -- but the quality is a betacam transfer from a second generation 1" master in PAL. They are the worst picture quality I have seen in a long time (and I used to carry the 'SB Home Video' label before they went bust). Anyway, this is my contact info: Eagle Video (Ocean Shores Video), 511 6th Ave- #54 NY NY, 10011-8436."
- All of the Jackie Chan US releases have been edited from their HK counterparts in some way, mostly for time reasons (US movie studio executives believe for some reason that US audiences don't want to sit through a Jackie Chan movie longer than 90 minutes). The original scores have also been scrapped many times in favor of more "contemporary" music (such as is the case with Supercop, which sports a rap soundtrack). Other recent HK films (such as Jet Li's Fist of Legend and Black Mask) suffer the same fate.
- Many European versions of HK films are generally cut for violence (e.g., England's ban on the showing of nunchakus).
- If you can't find what you are looking for here, try this page.
Due to the dubbing, re-editing and re-titling of the movies for international release, there is some confusion as to exactly what movies fall in the In the Line of Duty series. There are several theories about the time line, but this is the one I subscribe to:
- ITLOD1 = Royal Warriors (1986)
- ITLOD2 = Yes Madam (1985) -- this is sometimes called ITLOD 1 because it came out first chronologically.
- ITLOD3 = Force of the Dragon (1988) -- called Yes Madam 2 in some territories; this was the first film to come out in Hong Kong with the ITLOD name. It was also the first movie featuring Cynthia Khan; some international prints and their related promotions had her as Michelle Yeoh's sister (Yeoh was going under then name Michelle Khan at the time) and so Royal Warriors and Yes Madam were released as ITLOD1 and 2 in Europe -- subsequent pressings of HK media (VHS/DVD) also incorporate the name.
- ITLOD4 = Witness (1989) -- this also goes by the name of Survival or Key Witness; in the UK, this is packaged on DVD as ITLOD1. It's easy to spot the difference because Donnie Yen (who does not appear in any of the other movies in the series) stars in it.
- ITLOD5 = Middle Man (1990) -- this was released on video as ITLOD2 in some countries.
- ITLOD6 = Forbidden Arensal (1991)
- ITLOD7 = Sea Wolves (1991)
- The movie Queens High is sometimes marketed as ITLOD5 as a prequel to the series, but it really has nothing to do with it (Cynthia Khan actually plays a villain, not a cop in the movie).
- Yes Madam! A Serious Shock (aka Death Triangle) has nothing to do with the series, despite the title and having Cynthia Khan as one of the stars.
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