Blade Runner: White Dragon Cut
The ultimate fan edit cut. A culmination of 15 years.
Based on the dystopian novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and set in a post nuclear war world where animals are all but extinct, the film Blade Runner debuted in theaters nearly 40 years ago. Helmed by Sir Ridley Scott, it starred Harrison Ford as a retired Los Angeles police officer who dealt with rogue androids called Replicants.
It was a neo-noir science fiction film that failed to draw in audiences at the time, but gained a following in later years. Follow-up sequels and side stories in multiple media formats (novels, comics, anime, film) have enriched the world on a regular basis ever since.
There are seven cuts of the film which certainly seems like more than enough versions to satisfy even the biggest of fans. Or perhaps not.
In 2006, one Japanese fan decided he wanted to recreate the film as it was originally meant to be seen as per the script from February 23, 1981. In the interview below, he explains why he's decided to take it upon himself to realize the vision of not just the director, but the concept artist, the world-renowned Syd Mead, as well.
Dubbed the White Dragon Cut, this version has been 15 years in the making and is in its fifth iteration.
First and foremost, who are you -- what is your name and what do you do for a living? Or is this project a full-time job?
My name is Kazuyuki Sakamoto. I was born and raised in Japan. I run a company that develops and sells business software for small and medium-sized businesses. Three years ago, I also opened a department to create VR content. The company is co-owned with an old friend of mine, and I am primarily responsible for marketing and development.
Do you have a film background, or do you currently work in film or film editing?
I've never worked in the film industry before. But my feeling is that I am a film editor. LOL.
What initially drew you to the original Blade Runner film? Did you see it in theaters?
I was in high school when Blade Runner was released. I did not see it in theaters, despite the fact that I was a hard-core movie fan at the time. I didn't find it appealing after reading the clichéd copy of "レプリカント軍団、人類に宣戦布告!" (*Replicant army declares war on humanity!) on the [promotion] poster when the movie was released.
Years later, I found out that Blade Runner had turned into a cult movie, and I watched it for the first time on VHS.
When I first saw Blade Runner, I was blown away by the reversal of values in the second half. The way Deckard, who was a hunter, desperately tries to escape death as soon as he becomes the one being hunted.
The way Roy, who was desperately trying to escape death, cares for Deckard's life when he is about to die.
Through this reversal of values, I was made to think deeply about life and death.
What draws you back to it now to create the White Dragon Cut (WDC)? Were you dissatisfied with the older cuts of the film?
I am very satisfied with the older cuts. But I also know that the original cut of the film did not turn out to be what the filmmakers had originally envisioned due to lack of budget and time. As a fan of this film, I wanted to see what it would have been like had the film been completed as originally conceived.
When did you start the project?
I started this project in 2006. Initially, it was just a re-edit of the movie as per the final script.
What inspired you do to create the WDC? And why name it after the noodle shop from the film?
I was inspired by the book Future Noir. I learned that the original cut was not as per the final script and that some scenes were not shot due to budget and time constraints.
I also named my cut after a noodle bar because I wanted to imply that the cut was edited by a Japanese fan.
The Japanese-speaking Sushi Master in the Noodle Bar has became an iconic figure for Japanese fans of Blade Runner.
I plan to release "White Dragon Cut" as a full film.
Would the WDC be released by your own company, or do you have a distributor? Would distribution be worldwide?
I do not intend to sell WDC. The film is the property of Warner Bros. WDC is kind of a fan edit. I don't have any ideas yet on how [to make WDC available to anyone interested in seeing it].
Is this in cooperation with Ridley Scott in any way? Have you spoken with him about doing this? Do you plan on approaching him at any time?
I have not talked to Ridley Scott about WDC.
This project is an examination of what Blade Runner would have been like if it had been made according to the final script.
So I am still wondering what form I should release WDC in November 2022.
What kind of equipment and software are you using beside or along with Blender?
I use Adobe After Effects, Premiere, Photoshop, and Illustrator alongside Blender. I am doing rendering of the CGI in Blender on a Windows workstation, and compositing and editing on a MacBook Pro.
Is there anyone else working on the WDC with you?
I am the sole editor of the WDC. However, I have received a lot of feedback from Blade Runner fans all over the world through social networking sites.
Are you funding this on your own?
Yes, I am.
How many hours a day do you work on this project?
I work on this project for about one to three hours a day.
According to your site, you are using Syd Mead's film art, scripts as mentioned in the, as well as deleted and unreleased scenes. Where did you get these materials? (The art, scripts, scenes.)
Syd Mead's film art and scripts were obtained from the web. The deleted scenes are from the Final Cut and Dangerous Days DVDs.
Obviously the film isn't finished yet, but do you have an anticipated running time?
The running time will be about 3 hours.
Okay, ultimate question time. Is Deckard a Replicant or not? Which of the two will the WDC emphasize?
I do not believe that Deckard should be a replicant. I don't think Deckard should be a replicant, because if he would be a replicant, it would ruin the reversal of values at the end of the movie. However, I decided to set Deckard as a replicant to continue WDC into 2049.
Speaking of, do you have any comments on Blade Runner 2049, the short Blackout anime film, or the upcoming Black Lotus anime series?
I feel that all of them are full of love and respect for the original Blade Runner. I especially like 2049 because it carries on the original film's theme of life and death.
And finally, fun question time. Deckard's meal at the White Dragon looks like two baby hippos (miniature hippo clones?) with dorsal fins. Your thoughts on taste? Also, would Deckard cover them in soy sauce, Bulldog brand sauce, grated radish and ponzu, or something else?
I think those taste like sardines. What goes well with both sardines and rice is grated radish and soy sauce!!
Is there anything you would like visitors to your site and various social media accounts to know that wasn't covered in my questions?
As I mentioned before, WDC is a project to examine what the movie Blade Runner would have been like if it had been made according to the final script with sufficient budget and time.
Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Sakamoto. You are obviously a very busy gentleman. I look forward to the release of WDC 5.0 in November 2022. Hopefully you'll have a clearly vision of out how to share it with the world by then.
Mr. Sakamoto has put a great amount of time and and effort into this project of love. A visit to his homepage, White Dragon Cut, is a clear indication of this as it is packed with video clips and images of the work he's been doing on the edit.
As mentioned above, the WDC has been in the works for quite some time, and Mr. Sakamoto has shared the various edits with other fans. Check BladeZone for a quick comparative review of White Dragon Cuts 3.o and 4.0. BladeZone is an online community of Blade Runner fans with images, interviews, videos (including a "What might have been" snake dance by Joanna Cassidy), forums, and more.