Here is a look at the bonus featurette "A Tale of Two Cuts". In addition to a montage of poster material and various excerpts, Brandon Bentley's audio commentary provides a breakdown of the differences.
It starts with a short summary of John Woo's status at that time in the Hong Kong film industry. Here you can see various posters, stills and excerpts from the film. After the end of the shoot in 1984, Golden Harvest kept the film under lock and key, but in South Korea they found what they were looking for afterwards. Woo also had some Korean actors in his squad and because of some financial backgrounds, an early workprint might have found its way into the cinemas there. A South Korean VHS, whose cover is also shown, was therefore the source for the following insights into Woo's original movie, originally shot under the title Sunset Warriors. As a rough summary it is said that the movie seems to be much more fluent, the more quiet moments are better integrated into the plot and the mood in general would rather remind us of other typical Woo works. In the following, we will call the '84 Korea version "Warriors" Cut and the well-known version "Heroes" Cut.
It starts with a split screen of credits. The introductory text differs. Before the exclusive material fills the full picture, the comparison shows a few identical shots, which of course look much worse on VHS.
Individual excerpts show how a scene runs alternatively at the beginning. Here, only the course from the '84 version is illustrated: Chen is not killed immediately, but continues to fight. He is carried away by Eddie, but asks to die heroically on the battlefield. Only a set photo of the soldiers looking back at Chen, used for promotional material, had already indicated the original course of events.
An example of an exchanged scene follows. In the '84 original, Chin gives the little boy some rice to become big and strong, which is picked up a few more times in the further plot. The characters Curly and Julie are also introduced a little bit deeper. In the more famous "Heroes" cut, this is replaced by the silly scene with Curly's steak, which actually doesn't fit into the movie's tone at all. Since Woo has been associated with comedies until then, this was probably an approach behind the corresponding reshoot of Golden Harvest.
Now a curious alternative scene: In the Korean '84 version, the woman running away still has her T-shirt buttoned up. Maybe this was just a censorship measure for the local market (and potentially others in Asia). Anyway, the better known "Heroes" cut shows this with more naked skin. In addition, the hit through the Colonel's scope was replaced by a more spectacular close-up.
The Colonel manages to crawl away in the familiar version (see first picture). In the "Warriors" cut, however, Eddie even had the chance to kill him, but decided to let him live. With a bloodstained eye, the Colonel looks into Eddie's gun, but then he just drives away. In another scene, the Colonel vows revenge, which better explains his fixation on Eddie towards the end. It is faded over to a nightly conversation of the heroic troop at the fire, and there is another scene between Eddie and Julie, too.
Druglord Samtong is knocked out in the original version and one member of the squad temporarily assumes his role. Immediately afterwards, Judy finds out that little Keung has disappeared. She looks for him in a panic and finally finds him at the lakeside. At last, a few water lilies disappear and so it becomes apparent that the tribe members hiding in the water have already sneaked up on our soldier squad.
When Eddie then fights against the tribal leader, the choreography was slightly reworked resp. especially parts of the fight were cut.
Shortly afterwards, the sockets diverge massively. In the well-known "Heroes" version, there are the silly, re-shot scenes with Curly's theft of presumably dead soldiers and Chin's problems with the dice game. This leads to the ultra-brutal death scene of Curly. All this was missing in the original version (and is not illustrated here).
There was instead a huge additional plot line. The Vietnamese have barricaded themselves and are chased away by Chin and Curly. Chin falls down a cliff and there is also a humorous moment between the two. Meanwhile, Eddie is especially careful in the village concerning the inhabitants. When Chin and Curly join them, the latter wants to drink something out of a bottle and when unscrewed, it explodes resp. he dies here, too.
When there are flashback scenes a little later, the "Warriors" cut uses the original footage, while the '86 version uses a sepia tone.
In the following, only one example of a cut error in the Heroes Cut is shown. Due to added shots where Keung throws the rice away, it doesn't make sense that he has it in his hand again shortly after.
Instead, the original version of the movie has a more meaningful plot: Eddie remembers his dead wife while watching Cecilia. Julie notices this, which leads to an emotional conversation. Eddie replaces Chin as a guard outside, whereupon Cecilia talks to Julie. Since she denies having a relationship with Eddie, Cecilia approaches him herself - which Eddie refuses to do. In addition, set photos are faded in, which show how Cecilia approaches him with almost a naked chest. As in the previous scene with the gunned down woman, probably two takes were shot for more censorship-critical markets and in the preserved version from Korea you only see the more harmless version.
During the confrontation the next morning, at the beginning we can still see that Cecilia fell asleep in Eddie's arm. Lewis is also allowed to throw some sticks of dynamite into the crowd of attackers.
There are two additional scenes before the finale. Keung nurses Eddie by bringing him some water with his shirt. Because of the scene later on which shows the loosening of the needles around Eddie's eyes, this was probably considered redundant. The Colonel also administers painkillers to himself and is still obsessed with taking revenge on Eddie.
Julie's death is an interesting departure. In the original version, she deliberately sacrifices herself for Eddie, or rather notices the Colonel and places herself protectively in front of Eddie. In the well-known "Heroes" version, this has been shortened and modified so that the Colonel simply shoots her from behind. So the dramaturgy is simpler here, probably also because the previous flirtations between the two have been removed.
The final fight was almost 2 minutes longer in the original version. As both reach for burning logs, there is also some dialogue. Finally, of course, there are deviating credits.
There is about a minute more clips from the version, where commentator Brandon Bentley dreams a little bit about finding the footage at some point, so that he can reconstruct Woo's original cut. Finally, two credits insertions.