Somewhat overlooked in the midst of the summer blockbuster furore surrounding superhero sequels (Iron Man 3) and reboots (Man Of Steel), was the fact that Fox finally got round to making a decent movie about everyone’s favourite member of the X-Men.
And for the Blu-ray release of The Wolverine, diverse director James Mangold (3:10 To Yuma) has gone back to his original movie, beefed it up, and improved it.
This cut – The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition – is available now on Blu-ray for £19.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
The Wolverine had already managed to put right most of the wrong that was done by the chaotic disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and gave us a good look inside the head of one of the darkest, most complicated comic-book characters around. The film found Logan (Hugh Jackman) hiding out in self-enforced isolation, still depressed after killing his great love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen).
He is brought back into the world, summoned by an old friend, Yashida, a Japanese soldier he saved the life of during the US’s bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. After trekking to Japan, accompanied by diminutive warrior Yukio (Rila Fukushima), Logan is embroiled in family power struggles, open warfare with Yakuza and ninjas, and is haunted by the ghost of Jean while falling for Mariko (Tao Okamoto), until he faces an ultimate showdown with a huge adamantium samurai.
Film-maker Mangold was always clear that the story should be about death, and how it affects everyone in a different way.
“You have Logan – an immortal who wishes he could die; you have Mariko – a mortal who wishes she could die and can; you have her grandfather who is at the edge of death and doesn’t want to die, you have a character like Yukio who can see death around all corners. And then, of course, you have Jean Grey, who’s actually dead.”
Mangold has added two whole new action scenes, allowing the more visceral violence to be shown in full bloody detail on screen, while taking nothing away from the plot or stalling the flow of the film.
The two additional vignettes don’t add vitally to the story, but instead amp up the dead/injured bad guy quota, and shows off a little more of the crazy skills of Logan, Yukio and Mariko.
The first extra bit falls after Logan and Mariko check into the ‘Love Hotel’ in downtown Tokyo; instead of our hero simply passing out after his dream of Jean Grey, he is set upon by more Yakuza, thrown over a balcony, then hit by two tazer guns, being overpowered until he is saved by Mariko’s superlative knife-throwing, before waking up in the vet’s office as before.
The most significant addition to the film is the extension of Wolverine’s battle with the ninjas just before his final confrontation with Yashida. Instead of being quickly overpowered by the black-clad warriors, Logan puts up a much better fight, and is aided by the appearance of Yukio, who turns many a foe into a fine bloody mist by running them over with some sort of snow plough. The body count rises, blood splatters satisfyingly across snow, and fans are happy.
Although not as widespread as the bonus bloodshed – even in earlier confrontations, Logan’s kills seem to have added gore – there is one change to the Wolverine himself which is significant: he swears. A lot. There are more f-bombs dropped in the new version, and again, this feels more fitting for an abrasive character such as Logan. After all, Matthew Vaughn saved the one allowed usage in for Jackman’s cameo, and it felt perfect, just as him effing his way through an evisceration here.
Also on the Blu-Ray is a surprising deleted scene from the ending of the film, in which Logan reveals that he has been given the iconic – and incongruously colourful – Wolverine garb best known from his debut comic-book appearence, the the yellow and black mask and gloves. How or even why this fits into the movie canon established by Fox and Marvel, we don’t know, but it’s definitely a cool little nod to the source material.
All-in-all, the Unleashed version of that audiences will see on the Blu-Ray is really the film that should have been seen in the cinema. Logan is a swear-y, violent, no-holds-barred character, and doesn’t deserve to be restricted into a friendly PG-13 package. This is how we want to see the Wolverine.
The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition is out now on Digital HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD – read our original review of the film here.