Highlander 2: Renegade Special Edition (MRA) (1991)

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Released 6-Jul-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Seduced By Argentina
Featurette-Shadow Of Darkness
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Redemption Of Highlander II
Featurette-The Music Of Highlander II
Featurette-The Fabric Of Highlander II
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 105:14
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:33)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Russell Mulcahy
Studio
Distributor

MRA Entertainment
Starring Sean Connery
Virginia Madsen
Christopher Lambert
Michael Ironside
Allan Rich
John C. McGinley
Phil Brock
Rusty Schwimmer
Ed Trucco
Steven Grives
Jimmy Murray
Pete Antico
Peter Bucossi
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $19.95 Music Stewart Copeland


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film is generally considered to be one of the biggest turkeys of all time for its sheer stupidity both on the screen and in production, however this release seeks to refute that claim. This movie has been previously released in Region 4 in a diabolical release previously reviewed here. There are some major differences between that release and this which are not just restricted to the quality of the disc and extras as you would normally expect. For starters, the movie is a very different film to that previously released - even the title has changed. As well as this, the disc quality and extras are also significantly better including 16x9 enhancement, original aspect ratio and Dolby Digital sound (See below for details).

    The first release here in Region 4 was the version of the film which was shown theatrically, whereas the one included here is known as the renegade special edition. The title of the film has been shortened to Highlander 2, removing the words The Quickening from the end. It runs about 19 minutes longer than the previous release and has been re-edited according to the director's and producer's wishes. Additionally, in this most recent renegade version the special effects have been redone to replace the very ordinary ones added to the film at the last minute by the financiers after they took over the project. Most obvious of these is the much better effect for the shield, now being represented by a cross hatched blue rather than the ordinary red in the theatrical version. An excellent rundown of the exact differences between the theatrical cut and this one can be found on IMDB. The biggest change is probably that all reference to the immortals being from another planet is removed. They are now more sensibly exiled to the future from their own society, which makes a bit more sense and is less directly against the previous film. There are also many other new scenes and changes of order which certainly improve the flow of the narrative. It is also worth noting that one very small scene is missing from this version which was included in the original renegade version. This original renegade edition was not released in Region 4.

    This new version of the film is certainly better than the old cut, however, it is still not a great film. The romance doesn't really make sense with Louise Markus (Virginia Madsen) and Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert) going from meeting to sex against a wall in about 10 minutes (one of the new scenes in this version). The problems mentioned in the review above about the re-arrival of Ramirez (Sean Connery) also still hold true, and the bizarre explanation for how he is able to stop a gigantic ceiling fan from cutting everyone's heads off is still just as silly. A lot of the criticisms made in the above review are still valid, however, this version does take it from diabolical mess to passable sequel. Fans of the film or the original should definitely see this version.

    Now let's turn our attention to differences between the two DVD versions. The new version includes the following over and above the first Region 4 version:

    The original release had some text bios and filmographies and a 17 photo still gallery but these will not really be missed. Other versions available in other regions have different extras, which are detailed below in the region comparison section.

    In terms of Region 4 releases, this is the only version worth owning, unless you really loved the theatrical cut. Considering the retail price is a low $19.95 and I have seen it significantly cheaper, fans of this film or the original should definitely give this set a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good, and in a different class from the original Region 4 release.

    The feature is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is also encoded with automatic pan and scan information if you really must avoid black bars.

    Generally speaking this film is clear and sharp, not displaying any of the softness seen in the original version. It is not quite up to the standard of brand new films, however, considering the film's age you certainly cannot complain. Some scenes include grain such as at 52:50.

    The colour was very good throughout, natural and well rendered with no issues of note.

    Artefacts are certainly present including some aliasing such as on a sign at 17:28, a grille at 44:50, a phone booth at 49:20, a roof at 54:55 and a suit at 55:30. There was also occasional edge enhancement such as at 30:00, some wobble at 52:20, some spots and one particularly dirty section at 51:30. I also noticed some section where the film seemed to jump a little and two spots of pixelization at 4:12 on Lambert's face and at 97:54. The pixelization was not removed by cleaning the disc so I can only assume this to be a flaw in the transfer.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change occurs at 69:33 and caused a slight pause and a sound dropout.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good without setting the house on fire.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. The 5.1 is really quite good considering the age of the film and sounds good without being obtrusive.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. The only exception to this was Christopher Lambert's accent which was a little difficult to decipher at times.

    The score of this film by Stewart Copeland is very good, adding some great pomp to the proceedings using mostly percussion and orchestral sounds. Some Queen songs were also included, as well as instrumental versions included in the score.

    The surround speakers added some some directional effects and atmosphere. As you would expect with a film of this age they did not jump out at you but were certainly much better utilized than in the previous version.

    The subwoofer was used to add bass to the music and some mild explosion effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a number of extras spread over the two discs.

Menus

    The menus included scenes from the film, sound effects, access to scenes and audio options.

Disc 1

Theatrical Trailer (0:52)

    This is the original theatrical trailer which referred to them being from another planet, so is not particularly relevant to this version, but it is there for the record.

Deleted Scenes (5:49)

    This includes a number of scenes without final audio, some of which were obviously not used because they refer to Planet Zeist. Also included is a very dumb alternate ending. Nothing particularly interesting here.

Disc 2

Seduced by Argentina (50:04)

    This is a 2004 produced quality documentary about the making of the film which covers a lot of the problems faced during the production, especially regarding shooting in Argentina. It includes interviews with the producers Bill Panzer and Peter Davis, the director Aussie Russell Mulcahy, the cast (with the notable exception of Sean Connery) and a number of the crew. Topics covered include location issues, accidents, why the other planet idea was introduced, casting, problems caused by the Falklands War, economic issues in Argentina at the time, stunts, props and most importantly financial issues with the film and its budget. Definitely worth watching.

Shadow of Darkness (5:50)

    A short featurette about the cinematography of the film featuring an interview with the cinematographer Phil Meheux. The featurette is new, however the interview seems to be from the time the film was made. He talks about lighting choices and the look he was aiming for. Not bad.

Behind the Scenes Look (23:55)

    This is a collection of behind-the-scenes footage not placed in any sort of context. Quite a bit of this footage is used in other featurettes, especially the main one. Not too exciting, but keen fans will find it interesting.

Redemption of Highlander II (13:46)

    An interesting featurette hosted by the film's original FX supervisor where he goes through what changes were made recently to the special effects and how they were achieved. Interesting.

The Music of Highlander II (9:04)

    Stewart Copeland discussing the score he wrote, how it was recorded, his influences such as Wagner and his use of the then ground-breaking technology, the Fairlight computer. Not Bad.

The Fabric of Highlander II (10:05)

    A featurette on the costume design for Highlander II including interview with the costume designer. Worthwhile for those interested in costumes, otherwise a bit dull.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In the previous review, linked above, it mentions the renegade version available at the time in Region 1. There have now been two different renegade versions released in Region 1.The original renegade version released in Region 1 (Republic)  includes the following features not included here

    On the other hand this new Region 4 version includes the following features over and above that version:

   The recent renegade version SE released in Region 1 is also missing the same things as the local version, however also includes the following above and beyond our release:

    On the basis of the above, the Region 1 SE is the best choice, although it is disappointing that the commentary has not been carried forward to these new releases. Interestingly, this new local release is actually coded for all regions.

Summary

    A new and very different version of Highlander 2, which is still not a great film but is certainly better than the theatrical version.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has a good selection of extras unfortunately missing the commentary which was previously available for this version of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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