Though he’s been packaged into PG-13 movies ever since Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000, the truth is that Wolverine is really at his best in an uncensored environment. After all, he is the best at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice. In the canon of X-Men films so far, the best depiction of the character we’ve seen in this context has been James Mangold’s The Wolverine this past summer, which unleashed the beast within the hero as he fought off Yakuza and ninjas in Japan. As solid as the film was, however, the unrated version pushes it even further.
With The Wolverine set to arrive on Blu-ray on December 3rd and now available on Digital HD, last night I was invited to attend a special screening on the 20th Century Fox Lot in Los Angeles to watch the premiere of the never-before-screened, unrated cut of the film that has been dubbed the Unleashed Extended Edition. Having seen the theatrical cut this past summer, some very distinct things stuck out to me watching the new version, some of which actually made the movie much better than its MPAA-rated counterpart.
Wolverine Likes The F-Word
Hugh Jackman’s cameo as Wolverine in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class was great not just because of the surprise element, but because he perfectly used the PG-13 movie’s one-allowed use of the word "fuck." In its theatrical release The Wolverine played this game as well – the titular hero at one point saying to Harada (Will Yun Lee), "Go fuck yourself, pretty boy!" – but without the MPAA censorship in the unrated extended edition the language gets a little bit more colorful. It’s not exactly Tarantino-esque, as Logan only says the curse word three times total in the new cut, but it’s still interesting to know that Mangold was thinking about unrated cut of the film during production, understanding that multiple uses of the F-word would never get the studio the rating it wanted. Wolverine is definitely a character who you would expect to make frequent use of curse words, and the extended cut of the film gives him his proper tongue.
There’s Even More Action
The theatrical cut of The Wolverine certainly wasn’t lacking in action, with multiple exciting action sequences, but the extended cut actually pushes the film further with both a whole new sequence and an extended version of another. The first comes after Logan and Mariko (Tao Okamoto) have checked into the "Love Hotel." In the original cut Wolverine has a dream about Jean (Famke Janssen) while standing guard and passes out, but in the unrated one he is accosted by a group of Yakuza and nearly gets stun-gunned to death before getting saved by Mariko’s knife-throwing skills. The extended scene, meanwhile, is a longer version of the ninja battle in the third act. Not only does the scene have Wolverine performing much better in the fight, it also has Yukio (Rila Fukushima) getting in on the action… but I’ll get more into that next.
There’s A Lot More Blood
Considering the eponymous character is a superhero with knives that come out of his hands, there is an understandable expectation of at least some blood in a Wolverine movie, and the extended version of the latest film is really the closest we’ve come to something really satisfactory. While I can’t be 100% certain without comparing both cuts side-by-side, watching the cut last night I saw far more splatter in each of the fight scenes than I remembered seeing in the theatrical version, and Yukio’s role in the battle against the ninjas in the third act results in many of the black-clothed martial arts warriors being turned into red mist that sprays all over the snow covered streets. It’s still not everything we would want from an R-rated Wolverine movie, but it is very close.
It's Not The Ending You Want
There is a lot to like about the extended cut of The Wolverine, and in many ways it’s an improvement over the version of the film that was released theatrically, but one way in which the film remains disappointingly the same is in the very end of the film. No, I’m not talking about the battle against the giant robot – I’m talking about when Wolverine and Yukio get on the plane and prepare to head off for a mysterious destination. Earlier this month we learned that an alternate version of this scene where Wolverine got his classic brown and gold costume would be included with the Blu-ray release of the film, but the extended cut unfortunately doesn’t include it. That said, if you watch the second to last scene of the movie you can actually see Yukio carrying the costume box on to the plane, so keep an eye out for it on your next viewing.