Highlander 2: Renegade Version still has many problems which of course were not fixable without major reshoots but I do at least give credit to the editors for trying to present a half-decent movie. No doubt, it’s still not a very good movie although it would make for a fun Friday night drinking game, rife with many scenes worthy of mockery.
Highlander: Renegade Version (1991)
The Movie | Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall
Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Olive Films | R – 109 min. – $24.95 | February 19, 2013
Directed by: Russell Mulcahy
Writer(s): Gregory Widen (characters), Brian Clemens and William Panzer (story), Peter Bellwood (screenplay)
Cast: Christopher Lambert, Virginia Madsen, Michael Ironside, Sean Connery, John C. McGinley
Theatrical Release Date: November 1, 1991
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Disc Size: 22.5 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
Plot Outline: It’s 2024 and Connor MacLeod (CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT) and Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (SEAN CONNERY) are back to save planet Earth from an evil corporation headed by smarmy businessman David Blake (JOHN C. MCGINLEY). Also on the hunt for MacLeod is an evil highlander named General Katana (MICHAEL IRONSIDE).
Quick Hit Review: Highlander 2: Renegade Version is actually my first foray into this sequel and I have to wonder just how awful the theatrical version was because this cut was at times incredibly campy with over-the-top performances mostly from Michael Ironside who I swear was channeling his inner Jack Nicholson’s Joker with maniacal cackles and all. Christopher Lambert is mostly subdued in his role, though he at least shows passion; Virginia Madsen fulfills the love interest part well enough, though it’s a bland character; and Sean Connery seems to enjoy his quick payday and seems to at least be having fun in his pseudo-cameo appearance.
Now, as bad as Highlander 2 was, it at least allows for many funny, riff-inspiring moments which will keep any viewer’s attention from beginning to end. The visual effects are, at times, laughable, though in context of when this was filmed (back in 1990), it is understandable. The film was directed by Russell Mulcahy who directed the first Highlander film, 1994’s The Shadow, Resident Evil: Extinction and most recently Give ‘Em Hell Malone in 2009. I can’t place too much blame on Mulcahy if only because the story – even with its unfulfilled, Blade Runner-like, lofty ideas – was half-baked, although from my readings, the “Renegade Version” at least tried to eliminate inconsistencies between the two movies.
All things considered, Highlander 2: Renegade Version might not have been as terrible as the theatrical version and while it is commendable what the editor(s) did to make it into a half-decent picture, and the only version the studio will release on Blu-ray, many elements cannot be changed without reshoots, namely an off-the-wall, albeit highly enjoyable, performance from Michael Ironside.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
Unfortunately, though not entirely surprising, none of the features from the Lionsgate released edition were ported over.
VIDEO – 2.75/5
Olive Films debuts this “Renegade Version” on Blu-ray for the first time presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and in a muddied 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture here is, simply put, dirty. There’s a heavy amount of noise and grain, some artifacting in some scenes and just ugliness in others that shows absolutely little detail especially with background objects or characters. There are a few shots that don’t look too bad and some close-ups are acceptable, but even then those are at best average. There are obvious reasons why some scenes don’t look the greatest such as certain CGI shots which would need to be re-rendered at great expense but even so, others are shockingly bad.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
Since this is a version new to Blu-ray, as explained to me different from the one released by Lionsgate in 2009, along with a different video transfer, we’re also given a different lossless track. While the LG one was given a robust 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA track, this one receives a tampered down, although effective enough, 2.0 track. During the music moments, such as the opening, or the generic late 80s/early 90s score, the track does show some life but outside of that, it’s pretty much centrally oriented when it comes to dialogue and ambient noises.
OVERALL – 1.75/5
Overall, Highlander 2: Renegade Version still has many problems which of course were not fixable without major reshoots but I do at least give credit to the editors for trying to present a half-decent movie. No doubt, it’s still not a very good movie although it would make for a fun Friday night drinking game, rife with many scenes worthy of mockery.
As far as the Blu-ray is concerned, I understand this is the first time the “Renegade Version” is available in the format, and compared with the other cut released by Lionsgate, it has many problems including major artifacting in many scenes and absolutely terrible looking video in other shots which seemed culled from a VHS master. The audio isn’t anything to boast about but at least it is acceptable. It’s also a shame that Olive Films couldn’t provide a new feature or two, plus the Lionsgate release includes the incredible 50-minute featurette documenting the troubled production. If you can nab this cut for around $15 and you’re a fan, then perhaps it’s worth the cost, otherwise I’d stick with the Lionsgate release.