Sunday, January 11, 2009

Where Martial Arts And Hip-Hop Collide

I saw Volcano High a couple years ago (what the hell is up with Wikipedia calling this a film noir?), but I decided to rewatch it in the MTV dub version, on the theory that everything is better with Tracy Morgan. It is both better and worse than I expected.

It goes without saying that the entire soundtrack has been replaced, but the dub cast is surprisingly faithful and restrained... even Tracy Morgan! I was expecting a lot more moments like when the evil female substitute teacher calls this character Bacon-head. The worst I can say about it is that it commits the classic dub error of being terrified of silence. Since the main character doesn't actually talk that much, this means there's pretty much a constant flow of his internal narration, like a wire-fu version of The Wonder Years.

On the other hand, the actual film footage has been kind of butchered. We lose about forty minutes overall, and some of the surviving scenes get shuffled around, most notably moving the lead character's traumatic flashback to the very beginning and cutting out about half of it, including my favorite joke in the movie. They also omit the whole kung-fu cliche plot about the secret scrolls, but let's be fair, the plot is not exactly the reason to watch this.

On the whole, I have to give MTV and Fox some respect for putting both versions of the movie on the DVD, so I can laugh ruefully at the iffy Americanization without actually feeling screwed over. If only all companies were so generous.


  1. Wasn't the fucker like 90 minutes of posing to begin with? Posing followed by the main dude falling down instead of actually doing anything?

  2. It's basically a comedy interspersed with moments of fu fighting, yes. It's not the best thing I've ever seen but I did enjoy it.

  3. I remember enjoying the Japanese dub Sean and I randomly wandered into as well, but it's hard to imagine cutting anything so insubstantial.
    Then again, I should probably not be surprised by any cuts they make to Asian films by this point in time...

  4. Yeah, it's amazing to be that anyone bothers to keep making these pissant edits in this day and age, and especially why everyone just doesn't put the original and the "we think our customers are dumb" edit on the same goddamn disc so everyone's happy.

  5. I really enjoyed the original film, though the final fight was way too much posing - there was lots of fun comedy and fu through the rest of the movie.

    I suspect than the edits were made more for time constraints (I think they wanted to broadcast it on MTV) and to re-do the story. It might just as simply have been some idiot who thought he had a better story in mind, as opposed to thinking the audience was too dumb to "get" what was already there.