(Note:  All timings quoted refer to the PAL releases, unless otherwise stated)


A slightly improved picture for the UE (though the SE was hardly lacking in this department) and a nicely enveloping soundtrack, in both Dolby and DTS, but, for the second time in the UE series, a fault at one time only to be found on the initial pressings of the R1 SE, that of missing subtitles, has once again found its way onto an R2 release, namely, the establishing caption ("BRATISLAVIA, CZECHOSLOVAKIA"), which should appear at about the 9'54" mark, and, later, in the scene where Kusov is smuggled out in the pipeline, Bond's colleague, Rosika Miklos, seduces the security supervisor, to distract him from his control panel. Her job done, she rebukes him: "What sort of girl do you think I am?", but not in the UE: the line doesn't even appear in the regular English subtitles. [18'40"]

Please note that the Inside The Living Daylights featurette still contains the Sam Neill screen test footage (which was - probably erroneously - blamed for the 2000 disc becoming briefly unavailable).


Heavily edited by the BBFC upon release, and even then slapped with a “15” certificate, this film has had something of a chequered history in most countries. I understand the Japanese version was released uncut, and, later, some other countries were gifted with an unexpurgated version on VHS (Brazil for one), but the first time most British viewers got to Licence To Kill as its director intended (ratio issues aside) was when ITV broadcast an uncut version (violence-wise) a few years back, with no fanfare whatsoever. After that, they reverted to showing a heavily cut version once more, until 2005, when they showed the uncut version again. The UK VHS versions were beyond appalling, with just about every violent moment either toned down or removed altogether, dramatically hampering the film’s impact. Many impact sounds were reduced, and shots such as the killing of the female assassin, Loti, were trimmed to remove footage showing bullet impacts on both her breasts. Far more complete was the SE release, which was a direct port of the American PG-13 rated cut. This restored most of the sounds and footage once removed by the BBFC, except for four short shots. The uncut version, available on the UE, now contains the four shots removed from the SE.

These are as follows:

An underwater shot at 21'05", showing Felix Leiter's bloody stump has been reinstated near the end of the sequence where Sanchez lowers Leiter into the jaws of a shark.

Believing that Milton Krest has betrayed him, Sanchez locks Krest into a decompression chamber, pressurizes it, and then severs a feed pipe with an axe. Whilst previous versions showed Krest’s head swell up, the end of the shot, where it explodes, spattering the porthole with blood, has been reinstated at 94'18".

During the sequence in which Dario is dragged into the grinding machine, and is minced alive, the shot seen from underneath the blades, showing bits of diced Dario hitting the camera lens has been lengthened at 109'15".

A lingering shot of Sanchez on fire, flailing in desperation before falling to his knees, has been reinstated to his final confrontation in the desert with Bond at 122'06".

This particular cut in the PG-13 rated version was particularly damaging, since, in order to remove the offending footage, Glen had to dramatically re-edit the sequence, ruining the flow and continuity to quite a distracting degree. In the uncut version, Sanchez's death is depicted as follows (newly restored footage in bold):

1. Close-up of Sanchez's waist as Bond sets light to Sanchez's midriff.

2. Close-up of Sanchez screaming as flames rise.

3. Two-shot of Bond and the now engulfed Shanchez as Bond rolls away.

4. Sanchez flails about for a moment, then falls to his knees, still screaming and writhing, finally keeling over to be completely consumed by flames.

5. Shot of Bond running from the tanker as the vehicle ignites. He turns to look as it explodes, and races off to the left of the screen. He turns to look again and staggers now to the right of the screen.

6. Long shot - Tanker is annihilated and Bond pegs it.

7. Bond hides behind a rock as the fireball grows.

Here's the sequence as seen in the previous 15/PG13 rated version:

1. Same.

2. Same.

3. Same.

4. Second half of shot 5 in the un-cut version (as Bond staggers to the right of the shot).

5. Second half of shot 4 in the uncut version, as Sanchez keels over into the fire.

6. First half of shot 5 in the uncut version, as Bond runs away from the tanker and staggers over to the left of the shot, at which point we cut to:

7. Shot 6 of the un-cut version. The rest of the scene is the same in both versions.

In other words, to remove the shot of Sanchez burning to a crisp and flailing about in agony, a later shot is chopped in two, and the two halves are reversed and separated by another shot. This leads to an awkward edit between the 3rd and 4th shots and the 6th and 7th shots in the cut version, since none of these match up too well - Bond is suddenly quite a distance from the tanker as a result of the first edit and has changed position and direction as a result of the second. John Glen was doubtless particularly distressed by this edit since this alteration harmed the otherwise exquisitely handled finale of the film.

The DTS track on the UE buries the dialogue somewhat, in favour of the sound effects, which makes the film harder to enjoy. The Dolby track has a far better balance, and it the preferred option in this case. It should also be noted that, whilst the UE is horizontally cropped, albeit only slightly, when compared with that last release, this would appear to be an intentional decision, in order to remove two odd-looking imperfections that run vertically from the top to the bottom at the extremities of the image on the SE. The cropping in no way affects ones enjoyment of the film. The colour has also been slightly altered when compared with the SE (favouring a slightly colder hue throughout), but again, not to any detrimental degree.

The one caption in this film, “Ishtmus City”, is burnt-in, as it should be.


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