As I've mentioned before, the set is released by the US video label VideoAsia. The label is a bootleg label and well known for putting out DVD sets that are all sourced from old video tapes, not least tapes from Japan (which obviously means they come with burnt-in Japanese subtitles!). However, they DO release some good prints too and apparently a couple of years back they were going to release a very, very rare version of THE BIG BOSS that contains the original, rejected English dub. But it never happened. Rumours are they were "contacted" by people with copyrights in their pockets who probably asked them to can it. Well, I'm not usually too keen on watching my HK movies dubbed into English but the more choices the better I'd say. And it's definitely a pity it never came out not least cos you wonder why it was originally rejected; Was it really that bad? o_O
Anyway, I'm rambling but obviously I was curious about the versions in this new Zero Heroes set. As you know if you've read my previous posts, Karlos wrote and told me they were all indeed sourced from Japanese video tapes and today I'm finally able to check for myself. I've made a few screen grabs and I'm gonna post two from each film so you can get an idea of how they look. I'm using a VLC media player and unfortunately it's not all that good when you try and make accurate screen grabs (but it's the only one I've got so...).
I'll post the title card from each film and one from somewhere in the middle. As Karlos also mentioned to me, the print used for COBRA MISSION is pretty crappy. The one for the sequel, COBRA MISSION 2, and for WILD TEAM are both pretty decent altho it seems all prints suffer from being taken from worn video tapes!! Even tho I've only briefly checked the tapes it becomes clear right away they have all got tape rolls and lines in the picture!! The tape used for WILD TEAM certainly looks worse than my own almost PERFECT Japanese VHS! (hey VideoAsia, next time ask me for a copy, haha).
An example of VideoAsia's worn tapes! [from WILD TEAM]
The copy used for THE EXPENDABLES (for some weirdo reason retitled The Expendables 2 in the menu) isn't all that great either.
And in addtion to all this, Karlos also sent me some interesting info about COBRA MISSION; As I mentioned in a previous post, the film was also included in another box that VideoAsia put out a while ago called Mercs. The print in that box is a different one taken from a (I believe) US VHS release that was was retitled Operation 'Nam. Karlos compared the two prints and found some interesting differences:
Shown as made in 1985
Run time (in PAL) 1:27:35
Shown as made in 1987
Run time (in PAL) 1:21:10
Showing a 6 minute, 25 second difference!!
Also, only OPERATION 'NAM has music at the beginning, and a different piece of music at the end.
Both versions show music by the same person, Francesco De Masi.
Not sure if music during the films differ - I had a quick check and they didn't seem to.
My guess is, OP NAM was cut to make it more palatable to US audiences, but it's only a guess!
So the US Operation 'Nam version is missing almost six and a half minutes compared to the Japanese tape! O_O
Thanks to Karlos for this useful info.
And now for the screen grabs:
Finally, despite the tape roll, etc. I wouldn't hesitate recommending this box set to you. Sure, nut-case VHS collectors like myself are always gonna try and track down these films on rare deleted video tapes outta Japan or some other obscure territory but most of you who would rather just wanna watch the movies right away to you I'd say go for it! Grab this set! It's bloody cheap too. I paid $15 including postage from the States (from Cduniverse).