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Ashes of Time (1994) Theatrical Cut
#1
Does anyone have the Japanese R2 Pony Canyon DVD? Supposedly has the best transfer of the original theatrical cut.

I can't find much info about it anywhere and would like to see some screencaps to see how it compares to the HK Mei Ah (bad port of laserdisc with burnt in subs).

There is supposed to be a custom DVD out there of the Japanese DVD with english subtitles which weren't included on the official release.
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#2
(2020-06-06, 04:05 PM)NeonBible Wrote: Does anyone have the Japanese R2 Pony Canyon DVD? Supposedly has the best transfer of the original theatrical cut.

I can't find much info about it anywhere and would like to see some screencaps to see how it compares to the HK Mei Ah (bad port of laserdisc with burnt in subs).

There is supposed to be a custom DVD out there of the Japanese DVD with english subtitles which weren't included on the official release.

The Pony Canyon DVD release is rare as hell sadly. It is the best transfer available for the original theatrical cut on home media. It also isn't true widescreen and is letterboxed from what I recall. No burnt in subs like the crap that was the Mei Ah release and is miles ahead in PQ. So it isn't the end all be all, but it probably is the best version out there unless somebody finds a pristine print stashed away.

I might be able to help you on the screencaps, we will see about that later.
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#3
[Image: Ashes-Of-Time-avi-snapshot-00-01-42.jpg]

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[Image: Ashes-Of-Time-avi-snapshot-00-37-32.jpg]


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[Image: Ashes-Of-Time-avi-snapshot-01-14-52.jpg]


[Image: Ashes-Of-Time-avi-snapshot-01-28-17.jpg]
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#4
(2021-03-01, 10:53 PM)PipperPiper Wrote: The Pony Canyon DVD release is rare as hell sadly. It is the best transfer available for the original theatrical cut on home media. It also isn't true widescreen and is letterboxed from what I recall. No burnt in subs like the crap that was the Mei Ah release and is miles ahead in PQ. So it isn't the end all be all, but it probably is the best version out there unless somebody finds a pristine print stashed away.

I might be able to help you on the screencaps, we will see about that later.

Welcome PipperPiper! And thanks for the info. I noted that the screencaps are taken from an .avi file, so I'm guessing they are compressed and won't look exactly like the original DVD. Still they should give a good indication of colour which looks quite nice. Certainly better than the gross looking teal/orange pushed piss soaked Redux version!

Its a real shame what's happened to this cut. Looking at how WKW is presenting the new Criterion boxset, he is unlikely to approve a release of the theatrical cut ever again. But lets hope some distributer will do it justice one day.

I still have hope of tracking down a copy of the Japanese DVD though.
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#5
(2021-03-02, 11:59 PM)NeonBible Wrote:
(2021-03-01, 10:53 PM)PipperPiper Wrote: The Pony Canyon DVD release is rare as hell sadly. It is the best transfer available for the original theatrical cut on home media. It also isn't true widescreen and is letterboxed from what I recall. No burnt in subs like the crap that was the Mei Ah release and is miles ahead in PQ. So it isn't the end all be all, but it probably is the best version out there unless somebody finds a pristine print stashed away.

I might be able to help you on the screencaps, we will see about that later.

Welcome PipperPiper! And thanks for the info. I noted that the screencaps are taken from an .avi file, so I'm guessing they are compressed and won't look exactly like the original DVD. Still they should give a good indication of colour which looks quite nice. Certainly better than the gross looking teal/orange pushed piss soaked Redux version!

Its a real shame what's happened to this cut. Looking at how WKW is presenting the new Criterion boxset, he is unlikely to approve a release of the theatrical cut ever again. But lets hope some distributer will do it justice one day.

I still have hope of tracking down a copy of the Japanese DVD though.


Yeah, no way will the file look as good as the DVD. However, even that is still better than the Zoke Culture or Mei Ah DVD releases when it comes to PQ. I was reworking subtitles from another release with the Pony Canyon version for a fan project 12-15 years ago. Which was mostly re-timing, with some script fixes when it was deemed necessary. Couldn't even tell you where the source subs were from in all honesty. It also was the last project I was involved with before quitting and I never did release it.

The whole situation with Redux is suspect to me due to the fact that WKW supposedly had searched worldwide for film elements so he could properly re-release the theatrical Ashes of Time and still came up short. It is known that Pony Canyon partially funded the film and that is where the print that they used for the DVD came from. Japanese prints have less than a minute of Japanese characters that precede the start of the film which is unmistakable. I cannot believe that there isn't a full print out there, even if the negative and interpositive have long since been lost.

WKW with the Criterion boxset just shows that he wants to push revisionism for his films and doesn't seem to care about how they were originally. I also wouldn't hold my breath concerning seeing the theatrical versions of any of his films seeing the light of day again as Jet Tone is his company and they hold the rights and apparently have done the current "restorations". That isn't even taking into account reports that the encoding for the discs has been bungled by Criterion. So it is a rough road ahead being a fan of WKW films.

I wish you luck with finding the Pony Canyon disc. I have swam in that pool before with no luck, sometimes I think it would of been easier to find a theatrical print. The disc is the only way of getting a project together with at least a decent source other than accidentally tripping over a pristine print somewhere. The theatrical cut really should be restored with the best current elements just so the version isn't lost to time, which is quite sad to me.
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#6
I purchased the Criterion box set of some of WKW's films a few weeks back and was hyped to rewatch his entire filmography, including "Ashes of Time" (which wasn't included). I dusted off the old Mei Ah DVD and watched the original version for the first time. It didn't look great. Of course, it made me wonder about potential fan restoration projects and I found this thread in the search. It seems I'm not the only one who was thinking about this film last month. Smile 

I had never heard of the Pony Canyon disc so I thought I'd look into it. As luck would have it, there was a mysterious DVD listed on Amazon Marketplace with a tiny thumbnail that resembled the Pony Canyon cover at YesAsia and the seller was located in Japan. The price was a bit hefty but not too unreasonable for something supposedly this rare. I bit the bullet and it came in today! It is indeed the Pony Canyon DVD and it's still pretty rough, but better than the Mei Ah for sure. It's letterboxed and is missing the Chinese onscreen text (for example, those describing the fates of the characters).

I was thinking of creating English subtitles for this and possibly playing around with it, but my technical expertise is a bit lacking when it comes to upscaling, video editing, etc.

If there's more interest in the quality or using this DVD as a basis for something, let me know and I'll try to help. Smile
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Thanks given by: sertoli , Stamper , NeonBible , PipperPiper
#7
(2021-04-14, 02:46 AM)shiftyeyes Wrote: I had never heard of the Pony Canyon disc so I thought I'd look into it. As luck would have it, there was a mysterious DVD listed on Amazon Marketplace with a tiny thumbnail that resembled the Pony Canyon cover at YesAsia and the seller was located in Japan. The price was a bit hefty but not too unreasonable for something supposedly this rare. I bit the bullet and it came in today! It is indeed the Pony Canyon DVD and it's still pretty rough, but better than the Mei Ah for sure. It's letterboxed and is missing the Chinese onscreen text (for example, those describing the fates of the characters).

I was thinking of creating English subtitles for this and possibly playing around with it, but my technical expertise is a bit lacking when it comes to upscaling, video editing, etc.

If there's more interest in the quality or using this DVD as a basis for something, let me know and I'll try to help. Smile

Nice find! It does seem to be elusive now so wow lucky you.

I believe I have the English SRT subtitles for this so I can help you there and should sync straight up.

Could you post some screenshots? Would really love to see them at full quality and compare to the Mei Ah.
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#8
(2021-04-14, 12:08 PM)NeonBible Wrote:
(2021-04-14, 02:46 AM)shiftyeyes Wrote: I had never heard of the Pony Canyon disc so I thought I'd look into it. As luck would have it, there was a mysterious DVD listed on Amazon Marketplace with a tiny thumbnail that resembled the Pony Canyon cover at YesAsia and the seller was located in Japan. The price was a bit hefty but not too unreasonable for something supposedly this rare. I bit the bullet and it came in today! It is indeed the Pony Canyon DVD and it's still pretty rough, but better than the Mei Ah for sure. It's letterboxed and is missing the Chinese onscreen text (for example, those describing the fates of the characters).

I was thinking of creating English subtitles for this and possibly playing around with it, but my technical expertise is a bit lacking when it comes to upscaling, video editing, etc.

If there's more interest in the quality or using this DVD as a basis for something, let me know and I'll try to help. Smile

Nice find! It does seem to be elusive now so wow lucky you.

I believe I have the English SRT subtitles for this so I can help you there and should sync straight up.

Could you post some screenshots? Would really love to see them at  full quality and compare to the Mei Ah.

Unless they are custom subs the timing will be way off. As I stated before, the Pony Canyon print has less than a minute of Japanese characters preceding the start of the film. I am sure there were other timing issues here and there that I ended up messing around with too. I'll see if I can find the subs I was working on if nothing else and get those uploaded somewhere, not like it is a huge file or anything.
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Thanks given by: NeonBible , shiftyeyes
#9
(2021-04-14, 02:46 AM)shiftyeyes Wrote: I purchased the Criterion box set of some of WKW's films a few weeks back and was hyped to rewatch his entire filmography, including "Ashes of Time" (which wasn't included). I dusted off the old Mei Ah DVD and watched the original version for the first time. It didn't look great. Of course, it made me wonder about potential fan restoration projects and I found this thread in the search. It seems I'm not the only one who was thinking about this film last month. Smile 

I had never heard of the Pony Canyon disc so I thought I'd look into it. As luck would have it, there was a mysterious DVD listed on Amazon Marketplace with a tiny thumbnail that resembled the Pony Canyon cover at YesAsia and the seller was located in Japan. The price was a bit hefty but not too unreasonable for something supposedly this rare. I bit the bullet and it came in today! It is indeed the Pony Canyon DVD and it's still pretty rough, but better than the Mei Ah for sure. It's letterboxed and is missing the Chinese onscreen text (for example, those describing the fates of the characters).

I was thinking of creating English subtitles for this and possibly playing around with it, but my technical expertise is a bit lacking when it comes to upscaling, video editing, etc.

If there's more interest in the quality or using this DVD as a basis for something, let me know and I'll try to help. Smile


Excellent news, can only hope that it leads to a project to restore the theatrical version. At least somebody found a copy of the disc, was beginning to think it didn't really exist.

In addition to some screenshots, can you please take a quick image of the cover? Always have been curious to what it looked like.

In addition, my custom subs can be found here for whomever wants them:

REMOVED, due to a new revision
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Thanks given by: NeonBible , shiftyeyes
#10
Quickly looked over my custom subs and they look to be timed right for the most part. They probably could use some fine tuning, but I really didn't see anything problematic. Overall I am happy with how the subs turned out and it is probably for the best that they are finally released after all these years. 

I do have to note this other difference between the HK and Japanese prints. I always forget that the opening Buddhist text upon the ocean wave backdrop (which is found directly after the opening credits) is missing from the Japanese print (only leaving the ocean waves). I kept those subs in due to posterity as it was the version that I fondly remember. Not sure if it is included with the Japanese text preceding the film, which adds the question of what that text actually is. I wouldn't be shocked if it was backstory tbh.

There might be other differences between the prints, but it has been so long since I have seen the Hong Kong version that I really couldn't say for sure. However, for sure all traces of Chinese characters on screen are not present which includes the fates of the characters which has been brought up above.

Anyway, I very much hope a project can come out of this and the theatrical cut will not be lost to time. Anyone willing to move forward with such a project has my permission to use my custom subs if they wish to use them. I am not a fan of WKW's revisionist ways and think that the theatrical versions of all of his films should be maintained one way or another.
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Thanks given by: shiftyeyes , NeonBible


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