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  Season 2: Episode 31: xXx Films...

Gavin Salkeld's Cutting Edge investigates Xander Cage cuts at the BBFC


Link Here 28th January 2016

xXx

xXx banner

The October of 2002 saw Rob Cohen's film xXx released into British cinemas, with Vin Diesel starring as the titular character. Marketed as a sort of "James Bond for the new millennium" -- with the opening scenes of the film featuring a less-than-subtle dig at the Bond series -- xXx made almost $18 million at the UK box office, before the 20th James Bond film, Die Another Day , opened the following month. It bested xXx by finishing with a UK gross of just over $59 million. It was clear that, in true Bond style, nobody does it better.

xXx at the cinema

Columbia Tristar Films submitted xXx to the BBFC for a theatrical rating late in 2002, with a request for a 12A rating. The film had been classified with a PG-13 rating in the United States, and the film company were keen to get the British equivalent for the film's UK release. However, the BBFC insisted on one cut to the film before a 12A rating could be granted. The cut in question concerns a crunchy head-butt by Xander Cage (played by Vin Diesel), and the Board were keen to point out their reasons for this cut in their Annual Report of 2002:

At the '12'/'12A' category, the Bond-style action adventure XXX required the removal of a particularly vicious head butt, administered by the hero. The Board takes care that such combat techniques do not feature in films in the junior categories in contexts that invite imitation.

The uncut head-butt
 


xxx uncut 1
 
xxx uncut 2
 
xxx uncut 3
 
xxx uncut 4
 

Cut Scenes: Head-butt

As a result of this policy, the BBFC sent a cuts list sent to the filmmakers, instructing:

Significantly reduce both sound and sight of Vin Diesel delivering headbutt to NSA agent.

As a result of these changes, the UK cinema version of the scene utilized some awkwardly-inserted alternate footage (a wide shot) to lessen the impact of the head-butt, as well as removing all sight of the agent's bloody nose:


xxx cut 1
 
xxx cut 1
 

After the BBFC were satisfied with the changes (the filmmakers having declined to accept an uncut 15 rating), xXx was passed 12A for a UK cinema release on September 24th 2002, with the BBFC consumer advice noting that the film:

Contains intense action scenes and mild drugs references.
 

xXx on Home Video

Columbia/Tristar Home Video later submitted xXx to the BBFC for a home video classification, and the version submitted was the pre-cut UK cinema version. No further cuts were demanded, and the film was passed 12 in January 2003, with the BBFC noting that the film:

Contains moderate violence.

Director's Cut

A few years later, a sequel to xXx was due to be released into theatres, and Columbia/Tristar Home video decided to capitalise on the sequel's release by releasing an extended version of xXx on DVD, which was marketed as the Uncensored Unrated Director's Cut in the United States. This version of xXx inserts some non-contentious scenes that were removed for reasons of pacing from the theatrical cut, as well as some scenes of sexualised posing that would appear to have been cut to obtain a PG-13 rating in the United States.

Additional scene in the 'Director's Cut'

 



 

 

Sexual posing presumably cut to achieve a PG-13 rating in the US.
 

This extended cut of the film was submitted to the BBFC for a DVD classification, and was passed uncut with a 12 rating on April 18th 2005, with the BBFC's consumer advice noting that the film:

Contains moderate violence and drug references.

But things are not as simple as they seem. Despite the BBFC passing the film uncut, the head-butting scene is still missing from the Director's Cut DVD as per the UK cinema version. When asked for clarification about the status of the UK version of the Director's Cut, the BBFC responded:

The Director's cut included the content that was cut from the earlier cinema and video releases. Under new guidelines the work was acceptable at 12.

On the face of it, this suggests the UK Director's Cut DVD that was passed by the BBFC was identical to the unrated American version. Indeed, by this point in time, BBFC guidelines with regards to head-butts had already begun to be relaxed, with such films as The Bourne Identity (2002), LXG (2003) and Batman Begins (2005) all passed 12A uncut with scenes featuring crunchy and repeated head-butts. Regardless of the BBFC's words in this case, the Director's Cut DVD of xXx in the UK still contains the censored version of the head-butting scene.

Director's Cut 2

To add insult to injury, the Director's Cut DVD in the UK (which was renamed to the Xtreme Edition to avoid the term 'unrated') carries a 15 rating, which implies stronger content than the theatrical version. Sadly, this is the not the case -- the 15 rating is due to the Bonus Scenes special feature, which upgraded the overall DVD rating to 15. In addition to all of this, Columbia/Tristar saw fit to release this UK-specific version throughout Europe, so the best way to make sure you get the proper version of the Director's Cut is to import the American Region 1 DVD, which contains no MPAA or BBFC cuts whatsoever.



US DVD 

US Blu-ray

For fans wishing to own the theatrical cut of xXx without BBFC cuts, they can import either the American PG-13 Region 1 DVD or the American Region-Free Blu-ray release, both of which are uncut. The UK Blu-ray carries a 12 rating, but the specifications of the disc also match the American Blu-ray version, implying that the same uncut master was used in both territories. At the time this episode was made, the censorship status of the UK Blu-ray is not confirmed, so fans may wish to import the American disc to be on the safe side.
 

xXx: The Next Level

xXx 2 banner

 

xXx: The Next Level at the Cinema

The Hollywood suits obviously felt that xXx had been successful enough and, as previously mentioned, a sequel followed. Released in 2005, xXx: State of the Union (which was renamed to xXx: The Next Level in countries outside of the United States) starred Ice Cube as Darius Stone; the next agent to be enrolled in the xXx program.

Like its prequel, xXx: State of the Union had received a PG-13 rating for its theatrical release in the United States, and this version of the film was submitted to the BBFC in the UK for a theatrical rating. Before its formal classification, the filmmakers had submitted the film to the BBFC in a rough cut version for an Advice Viewing, inquiring as to whether the film needed tailoring for a 12A rating. The BBFC countered that one change was indeed needed to attain a 12A rating, citing a sequence from the opening of the film as problematic:

During post-production, the distributor sought and was given advice on how to secure a 12A classification. Following this advice, a sequence early in the film in which a man is stabbed from behind was changed prior to submission to remove detail of the knife emerging from his stomach.

xXx: The Next Level: Uncut Version

For comparison's sake, here are stills from the uncut version and the UK version to illustrate the slight change made for UK audiences:


xxx 2 uncut 1
 
xxx 2 uncut 2
 

xXx: The Next Level: Cut UK Version
 


xxx 2 cut 1
 
xxx 2 cut 2
 

After cuts had been made, xXx: The Next Level was classified 12A without any formal cuts on April 4th 2005, with the BBFC noting that the film:

Contains moderate violence and one use of strong language.

 

xXx: The Next Level on Home Video

This pre-cut version was later submitted for home video classification, and no further cuts were demanded by the BBFC. It was passed with a 12 rating on August 24th 2005 and was the version released on video and DVD in the UK.


xXx 2 DVD r1
xXx 2 Blu-ray

US DVD 

US Blu-ray

Like the Director's Cut version of its predecessor, this same pre-cut version was released on DVD in other PAL-format territories, meaning that many other countries were given the censored UK version on home video. The UK Blu-ray released in 2008 also sports a 12 rating, and would appear to be the same cut version as released in UK theatres and on DVD. Fans wishing to own the uncut version of the film can import the American Region 1 DVD. The American Blu-ray release is Region Free and is also presumably uncut, as the disc has different languages and subtitles in comparison to the censored European releases.

To summarise, the route to go for xXx fans anywhere in the world is to import the American versions of both films in order to enjoy them without BBFC cuts. As things are now, the UK versions of either film should be avoided by those who are seeking uncut versions in any form.
 

Cutting Edge Video, Season Two, Episode 31: xXx Films