Island on Fire (1990) was released in three different version, the Hong Kong theatrical run, the badly dubbed nonsensical U.S. version and the original two hour plus Taiwan cut. The best one out of the three is the Taiwanese print. This film was a "charity" film that was made to help the director who was in some real "financial" trouble with some shady characters.
The director's best friend "Jimmy" Wang Yu called up some actors who "owed" him some favors. The top flight actors did the work for little or no pay. They were making a movie that was going to make some money, not a classic or anything like that. Just a quick film that'll make some fast bucks. Let's take a look at the different prints shall we?
1.) The Hong Kong cut is a fast paced action film. Only the bare bones are left. Little plot is left in the way of seeing some of the actors on the screen. The story is simple, someone is hiring dead criminals to whack important people. Tony Leung Ka Fai get's involved when his fiancée's father get's whacked by the "dead" assassin. After snooping around he finds out that they're coming from a Taiwanese prison. So, old Tony gets himself arrested and his buddy pulls a few strings to get him inside the "big house".
2.) The United States print re-dubs a lot of the scenes making many of them nonsensical. The dialog is drastically changed and some scenes are just re-dubbed (i.e. Jackie Chan is thrown in prison for accidentally killing Andy Lau's brother).
Whilst in prison Andy Lau tries to have some of his inside men try and kill Jackie. Wang Yu doesn't want the prisoners killing each other or stupid things like that. He wants it civil inside. So to placate Lau's men he slices his arm and squeezes out some blood whilst telling them, "Let Lau know that I have bled for his brother, there will be no violence in my prison." Well, to that effect any way.
In the U.S. version he just cuts his arm to show the two how "crazy" he can get. "You wanna see crazy! I'll show you crazy!!" he tells the two as he cut's his arm?! Doesn't make any sense. It goes on like this for ninety minutes! The DVD is horrible, not only is it badly dubbed but the "commentary" is worthless. Hell I know more about the movie than the guy they put on it.
3.) The Taiwanese cut is over two hours long and it fleshes out the characters. Unlike the Hong Kong version, the film is fully subtitled in English (the subs disappear during the last eight minuted in the Hong Kong print). What I like about the Taiwan version is that the true motives of the characters are revealed. The movie makes a lot more sense and you call feel for them. It's also not as jumpy and confusing.
The rest of the movie is real interesting. You'll be in for a surprise by the wild ending and the shocking conclusion!
Taiwan print: A+
H.K. print: B
U.S. print: F-
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