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[Help] "The Protector (威龍猛探)"--Restored Japanese version, need help
Hello everyone. I am "The Film Whisperer", author of known restoration projects such as

  1. Cobra (1986), extended version
  2. Rumble in the Bronx
  3. Fist of Legend
  4. Ong-Bak
  5. Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
  6. Jackie Chan's "Thunderbolt"

And more to come! (those links are threads from this site explaining my projects)

I now have a new project, and I'm hoping that someone can help me complete it. I wish to create a "remastered" version of the "Japanese extended version" of Jackie Chan's The Protector.

Why are there 3 different official versions of this film?

I'm certain that any fan of Jackie Chan knows the story behind the making of this film. But if you're not familiar, here's the briefest summary I can give you.
  • "The Protector" was written and directed by James Glickenhaus, a man with a real "Grindhouse" style of directing. 
  • This was Jackie Chan's 2nd American film, after "Battle Creek Brawl". The film was released in 1985.
  • James Glickenhaus claims that Jackie Chan didn't really speak English at the time of making this film. (Personally, I call TOTAL B.S. on this claim).
  • The movie was a flop in North America and worldwide
  • Jackie Chan was so embarrassed by how the U.S. version turned out, that he decided to re-make the movie for the Asian market
  • This movie inspired Jackie Chan to create "Police Story" in the same year. To this day, Police Story is still considered one of the greatest action movies in HK cinema and worldwide.
  • And technically, there are about 5 different versions if you count the censored German version. And the original US rated-R version cut out footage from the bar gunfight. That footage was exclusive only to the HK and Japanese edits until the 2002 R1 DVD release from Warner Bros (and subsequent releases from Fortune Star). 

What did Jackie Chan do the film?

You can get an EXTREMELY detailed explanation from this Movie-Censorship article. Or you can read the Wikipedia article about it (much of which I also wrote, Tongue ). The MC article compares the original U.S. version to the Hong edit. But here's a brief summary

  1. Jackie Chan dubbed the entire movie into Cantonese. In a few scenes, the dub totally changes context/dialog. Many people say Jackie did this because "he didn't like the cussing", but according to the subtitles provided by 88 Films' for the HK edit, that actually doesn't change much, haha. But I honestly think that Jackie didn't want he and Danny Aiello's characters not sound like they're freaking hoodlums! I don't know if a Mandarin dub was actually made at the time, but the old Universe Laser DVD has a 5.1 Dolby Mandarin dub, and it's the only source I know of where any Mandarin dub exists.
  2. Editing and alternate takes: The original US version (the Glickenhaus version) of this film was horribly-paced, in my opinion. Too many shots linger on much longer than they should. It's clear that Glickenhaus didn't want any second of film to be left on the cutting-room floor, haha. It is well-known that Jackie didn't like Glickenhaus' directing style. Jackie preferred using multiple takes for certain sequences, rather than using longer single-takes. Here's a link showing screenshots from my restoration of where/how he used alternate takes, even in the sequences originally filmed by Glickenhaus.
  3. Reshoots: Jackie did many reshoots for this film. I won't go into great detail, but for the Asian market, Jackie filmed an entire subplot to add some "depth" to the film's story (which admittedly is quite paper-thin in the U.S. version). I personally believe the plot reshoots were mainly about not having a freaking fortune teller to solve the good guys' problems. Big Grin  Many of the reshoots involved a popular singer/actress: Sally Yeh, whose character was added to the film, and given a family connection to Shum Wai's character. Among other famous reshoots was the final fight between Jackie Chan and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace's character, which helped make the final sequence much more exciting and less predictable. The reshoots added a few extra action sequences to the film. And yet, in spite of adding a whole subplot and extra action sequences, Jackie's edit of "The Protector" still ended up being a few minutes shorter than the original U.S. cut!  Smile  This also means no nudity in the HK/JP edits! The massage parlor nudity was edited out beautifully, but Jackie did reshoots for the drug lab sequences, replacing the naked female drug workers with women (and men) dressed in lab coats.

So what is the "Japanese extended version"?

Again, Movie-Censorship has an article comparing the HK version to the Japanese version. The "Extended Japanese version" has these differences
  1. The Japanese version is basically an extended cut of Jackie Chan's Hong Kong edit. Even without counting beginning/end credits, it is slightly longer than the U.S. cut, which is itself a few minutes longer than Jackie's HK edit. As you can see in Movie-Censorship's article, the HK version removed a few scenes that were included in the U.S. version. The Japanese version has these scenes with a Cantonese dub.
  2. Removing those scenes for the HK version required slightly different Cantonese dubs for the HK version in certain scenes. For example, in Jackie's HK version, the traitorous British police chief Whitehead (spoiler alert!  Tongue ) actually tells Jackie's & Danny Aiello's characters about the massage parlor, and it cuts out the very next scene from the US version where the chief's inspector is actually the one who tells them about the massage parlor. However, the Japanese version includes the latter scene, requiring a slightly different Cantonese dub where the chief simply lectures Jackie and Danny about following rules & regulations.
  3. All scenes taking place in the U.S. use the original English track, while all scenes taking place in Hong Kong use the Cantonese dub. However, the audio from the U.S. scenes is in mono, and is much more "raw" than Glickenhaus' stereo track. And the score matches Jackie's original Hong Kong version. It is a completely different master!
  4. An inclusion of an all-exclusive scene. It's just a short conversation between Bill Wallace's and David Ho's characters. Only in the Japanese edit can you find this scene.
  5. The inclusion of the outtake credits. These credits are iconic in Jackie Chan's films, and I'm puzzled as to why he didn't include them in his HK edit! Undecided Like the U.S. version, the song "One up for the good guys" by Chip Taylor plays during the end credits in the Japanese version.

What have I completed so far?

Sources I used
  1. The 2014 Japanese blu-ray, for footage exclusive to the Japanese version of the film. Click here to see screenshots of it. It's the only version to have the exclusive HK/JP footage in genuine HD. It was scanned from an actual film print. However, it has one annoying aspect: the burnt-in Japanese subtitles! Well, since the "sub"-titles are on the side, you can call them "side-titles"  Tongue
  2. UK blu-ray from 88 Films, for footage from the U.S. version. 88's blu-ray for the U.S. version is genuinely remastered. 88's HK version was upscaled from the French DVD, the only version I know of which was somewhat remastered and genuinely anamorphic. I used the upscaled HK version in a few places to cover up the Japanese side-titles. I also used the upscaled HK version for one shot, because I found it difficult to credibly cover up the Japanese "side-titles"
  3. Japanese laserdisc. I used this to cover up the side-titles to the exclusive scene between Bill Wallace and David Ho.

So far, I've done most of the "big stuff". Here is what I did
  1. I used the 2014 Japanese blu-ray as the basis for creating this newly restored version.
  2. The frame rate is 24fps, NOT the HD frame rate of 23.976 FPS. And yes, it is also at true 24fps speed. Don't worry, I know what I'm doing Tongue
  3. I used the U.S. version's footage wherever I could, and used the Japanese blu-ray's footage for all other shots where it was necessary. My source for the U.S. version's footage is the blu-ray from 88 Films.
  4. I did some major color-correction, not just on the Japanese blu-ray footage but also on the U.S. footage too! I have no idea what 88 Films was thinking but they made that footage far too blue and dark in many places. I often don't like tootin' my own horn, but I think I did a great job. Here's a link showing my color-correction work.
  5. I created 2 audio tracks: one that uses the Japanese version's English/cantonese mono track (with just a tiny amount of help from the U.S. version's stereo track), and another that is 100% Cantonese! The All-Cantonese track uses audio from 88 Films' upscaled HK edit for the scenes taking place in the US. Sound effects and dialog are well-synced in both tracks!
  6. I created 3 sets of English subtitle tracks: "foreign parts only" and "all dialog/SDH" for the English/Cantonese track, and one for the "All Cantonese track". The subtitles for the Cantonese dialog are mainly based on the translation of the HK version's dialog from 88 Films, which used a native-Cantonese speaker. For the dialog within the Japanese-exclusive scene, I had to rely on a translation of the German subtitles from the German blu-ray release from Splendid (which had this scene as a "special feature"). For the slightly different dialog changes to the Japanese version, I relied on Australian friend who has learned Japanese and translated the subtitles for me. And I got some help from a phone translation app, which doesn't really catch audio from a computer very well  Confused . But I figured the dialog was quite similar to the original U.S. version's.
  7. I covered up the Japanese side-titles, but only in a few short places, which kinda brings me to my request...

What do I need help with?

  1. Covering up the Japanese side-titles. As I mentioned before, I covered up the "side-titles" but only in a few places. I'll be honest: my patience in doing this task has run out  Confused . I believe that in many cases, the best method to cover up the side-titles is to rotoscope parts from the Japanese blu-ray where there are no side-titles to cover them up when they appear. However, this process is very tedious and would often require frame-by-frame rotoscoping. Unless...there's some other strategy? I am aware that I could use the upscaled HK version to cover them up, but that's also quite difficult, and it might not turn out so well. The upscaled HK version is a bit more "zoomed in" than the JP blu-ray, so some "scaling" is necessary. Also, one must do a good job in color-matching and blending. Keep in mind that the Japanese version is in genuine HD, while the upscaled HD version was, well...upscaled from a PAL DVD!
  2. Cleaning up dirt/specs. The Japanese version was scanned from a film print. So it's got a lot of dirt and specs and stuff.
  3. Flicker removal: Any ideas on how to remove the flicker from certain sequences in the Japanese version? If so, that'd be great!
  4. Other improvements as needed, if you think you can do better. Did I not cover up the side-titles well-enough in the places where I did so? Do you think you can do a better job at color-correcting? If so, do it!

If any of you are interested in helping me with these tasks, please PM me. And I hope you're willing to share your most direct e-mail address. If you're not comfortable sharing your actual e-mail, that's fine. But please note that I'm not as fast as responding to my messages on this site as I am from my own e-mail.

I will give you a link to everything. I have lossless M2TS files of my sources and a lossless MKV & M2TS of my own restoration, and I will even upload my Adobe Premiere Pro project file. I will even give you my "rough draft" MKV so you can have an idea of what the completed project will look like (before you work your magic). You can let me know what else you'll need to help me complete the project.
My other projects
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Hi Film Whisperer,

Unfortunately I've got so many projects on the go at the moment I'm not able to spare any time to work on this project, but hopefully I can assist with the covering up some of the side titles. When I have done this in the past I have used two different methods, they might work for you and might not. First of all, you have to make sure you have got the two different versions matched frame for frame, so if you haven't already you might to go through and delete frames where necessary so they run exactly the same. Second of all you need to color correct the 88 HK version so it matches the JP Blu as close as possible - I'd use Dr Dre. I don't know how often these side titles appear, but if it's throughout the film you may need to make LUTs on a scene by scene or even shot by shot basis.

The other thing you may need to do is grain the 88 HK version if the grain is noticeably different to the JPN Blu, otherwise it will make it easier to spot where the side subs have been patched. In After Effects you can take the grain off one video (JPN Blu) and apply it to a different video (88 HK) - this is the method:


Once that's all done:

Method 1 - Avisynth AutoOverlay. Not going to lie Avisynth is not an easy program to use and then AutoOverlay isn't particularly easy to use even if you know a little about what you are doing in Avisynth. However if you can get it working it should be able to line up the 88 HK onto the JP Blu, then you can mask around the side titles, so the only footage used from the 88 HK is the bit used to cover them up. I think there is an option to feather the edges as well. However, the fact that one is sourced from a print and one is sourced from a DVD may cause problems. I've had the most success when it's overlaying two versions from the same source. I also haven't had any success with color correcting in AutoOverlay so that's why I suggest doing it beforehand.

Method 2 - Premiere. Put the 88 HK on top of the JP Blu. Set the opacity of the 88 HK to 50% and add the corner pin effect. Click on corner pin in the effects control and then drag each of the four corners until it lines up with the image underneath it. Hopefully you will have some kind of object in each of the corners, a person, a car, something hanging on the wall etc that you can line up. You will see double/ghosting but as you manipulate each corner they will start to line up. Once it looks right set the opacity back to 100%, you can then draw an opacity mask so the only footage being used from the 88 HK is during the side titles. You can also add the edge feather effect so it's not a solid edge. You also may find that whatever settings are needed for the corner pin only work in one particular scene or shot, then they need changing.

Hope some of this helps. If the side subs appear throughout the whole movie it's going to be a labour intensive task I'm afraid so you'll have to make a judgment call if it's worth the effort or not.
Thanks given by: shiftyeyes

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