Friday, February 21, 2020

BROTHERS IN BLOOD - alternative versions

Italy (1987)
Original Italian title: La Sporca Insegna del Coraggio
aka: Savage Attack
Directed by: Tonino Valerii
Story and screenplay: Roberto Leoni
Cast: Bo Svenson, Carlo Mucari, Peter Hooten (Peteer Hooten in the Italian language credits), Werner Pochat, Nat Kelly Cole, Franklin Dominguez, Juan Jose' Caballos, Martin Balsam

Ex-rental VHS (Denmark)

12 MINUTES!?!?!?

Last night, I went to YouTube to try and relocated some of the trailers that had gone missing from my other site. One of the trailers was for Tonino Valerii's Italian Vietnam War flick BROTHERS IN BLOOD.

I discovered that not only had someone uploaded the full film to YouTube as well as the trailer. But two different channels had uploaded the full film; One version was the Italian dubbed version, and the other was the English dubbed version. Usually that doesn't mean much of a difference apart from the language, obviously.  However, I noticed that the Italian version clocks in at 1:29:15 while the English dubbed version runs a mere 1:17:02. That's a difference of 12 minutes!!!

I decided to watch both versions simultaneously, side by side on my computer. No, not the best way to enjoy a wild 'n' trashy Filipino war flick but, hey, I'm a professional! (I kill me, hahaha).

As soon as I pressed "play" I discovered something else very odd: The Italian dubbed version has the on-screen intro text in English while the English dubbed version has the intro text in Italian!!!

This isn't a review so I won't talk too much about the plot but the film kicks off during the last days of the Vietnam War. A group of soldiers are trying to escape from a large group of Viet Cong soldiers and to make it to a helicopter. Most of the American soldiers make it but one guy is wounded and while he's lying on the ground crying for help the chopper takes off leaving him behind. 12 years later he's still royal pissed off about it.

The first few minutes made it obvious to me that the 12 min. difference probably wasn't just a matter of a few gory scenes that had been cut for the shorter version. No, the entire escape scene was edited differently in the two versions. Even bits and pieces of different footage is used. When the 5 minute intro is over the scene changes to Bo Svenson's present day life in New York many years later. And from then on I gave up trying to keep track of the differences between the two versions!

All throughout the film, scenes are edited slightly differently and the short version keeps cutting frames out; For instance, a man walks along a wall, in the short version he walks two metres less than in the longer version. And it takes longer for him to get around a corner. And a conversation takes longer. It's very odd. All throughout the film. I mean this isn't just a matter of a video label cutting their version because they felt the film was too long. There are different edits everywhere as well.

I pulled out my old Danish ex-rental VHS of the film and fast-forwarded the tape. It runs 89 minutes (and uses an English dubbed/English intro text version. Go figure).
Then I remembered that there's a new German blu-ray release of the film (actually I'd totally forgotten about this release so I ordered it right away, see my next post). The online info about the new blu-ray states it clocks in at the 93 minute mark.

However... I checked with IMDb and it says... 1 hour 16 min!!! Very, very odd. Why would they do two different edits of the film with different running times. As I said we're not talking missing scenes of violence or nudity (there's no nudity in either version). And it's not a matter of two versions running at different speed.

The short version has a German classification sign before the film starts so I assume it's from a German DVD (a VHS would be dubbed into German). The picture is clearly more dark than the Italian language print. Despite missing 12 minutes of bits and pieces, and frames here and there, the short version didn't feel too short or that important plot details were missing.

I'll post both version down below in case you wish to check out one of the versions (or both) + the trailer.

Italian dubbed version (approx 89 min)

English dubbed version (approx 77 min)