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HIGHLANDER II: There can be only four cuts! - Part 2

11.24.2010by: The Arrow

READ PART 1 OF THIS EDITORIAL HERE

Directed by:  Russell Mulcahy
Written by: Brian Clemens and William N. Panzer (story), Peter Bellwood (screenplay)

Starring: Christopher Lambert/Connor MacLeod, Sean Connery /Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, Virginia Madsen /Louise Marcus, Michael Ironside/Katana, John C. McGinley/David Blake

Synopsis: We are in the future. Connor MacLeod is now an old man and our world is drowned in darkness due to The Shield; an artificial ozone layer which MacLeod help build to protect the earth. But all of that changes when MacLeod's old enemy General Katana  travels to the future to whack him. MacLeod becomes young and immortal again, he tags up with environmental activist Louise Marcus (who believes the shield is no longer necessary and that it needs to be shut off) and Ramirez returns to help both their asses out.

DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL HIGHLANDER 2 SCREENPLAY HERE


This second part of this editorial will focus on the two "they are NOT aliens" cuts of the film. Here we go!


Director’s Cut (1995) - Run Time: 109m 27s
GET THE RENEGADE CUT ON DVD HERE

In 1995 director Russell Mulcahy picked up where he left off in terms of the tweaks he had done on the UK cut of HIGHLANDER 2 and attempted to correct the plagued sequel even further. In fact the cast and crew hooked up again in 1994 for this cut to finish scenes that weren't completed during the original shoot. The result was HIGHLANDER 2: THE RENEGADE VERSION; pretty much the definitive edition of the film. With a new edit and over 16 minutes of added footage that was not included in the slapdash theatrical release it better freaking be!

The flick took its cue from the UK cut sporting the two sword fights that were spliced together in the US version but again separated here as two individual battles, the McLeod and Louise go above the Shield scene and the Brenda death sequence. But as opposed to the UK cut; the RENEGADE version re-included two cool scenes that were initially only found in the US theatrical cut: -Katana and MacLeod having a chat while Katana fondles a heel and -MacLeod visiting Brenda's grave to then find Katana there busting balls. So having all of this footage back in the fold, edited in a coherent order; added to the strengths of this version.


Why do I have wax on my eyes????

The most major change when compared to the two previous cuts though was that all the talk about the Immortals being aliens from the planet Zeist was removed. Instead; what was once perceived as Zeist is now presented as a very long time ago... a past where peeps dressed weirdly, used swords AND machine guns but a distant past none the less. Yeah... although that new angle on the flashbacks didn't fully gel with good old fashion logic; I took it, lived with it and dug it more than the alien approach. It pretty much changed the whole movie and at least this way it fit more with the mythology/feel of the other films and the TV show. I also esteemed that the flashbacks were executed in the manner they should have always been; in a non linear fashion throughout the piece; akin to the first Highlander movie (and the sequels that followed).

Alas, much like all other incarnations of Highlander 2; this new history didn't explain HOW McLeod and Ramirez met in that distant past when they in fact first hooked up in Scotland in the original Highlander...but WTF you gonna do; some shit you can't fix no matter the amount of cocaine and hours cooped up in the editing room. Finally; this RENEGADE VERSION jacked up the so bad its good quotient of the ride by adding SOME HILARIOUS (INTENTIONAL AND UN-INTENTIONAL) KNEE SLAPPING scenes. Here are some of my favs:


A Macleod Wam Bam Special!

-MacLeod meets Louise as an old man, he then kills one Immortal, becomes young again, does a "hero shot" (that Lambert pretty boy look), he kills another Immortal, goes up to Louise and this exchange ensues:

Louise : "Who are you?" Conner : "I'm Conner Macleod of the Clan Macleod. and I cannot die."  Louise : "I'm Louise Marcus from Flagstaff Arizona."  Conner : “Nice to meet you.” 

He then grabs her ass, kisses her deeply, nails her against the wall, pulls a two pump chump and blows a load. In the other versions, MacLeod just kissed Louise. But having him give her the sword to then pre-mature ejaculate out of there was simply PURE cinematic GENIUS

-MacLeod and Katana fight on top of one of the SLOWEST MOVING truck ever. That in itself was GOLD! But it was Virginia Madsen's reaction after Katana got run over that made this bit so special for me. Check it below! "Outstanding."


OUTSTANDING INDEED!

-The train scene was gored up to the point of sheer ridicule with the highlight being some dude's eyes starting to pop out Total Recall style. LMAO! Who would build a train that goes that fast? Why isn't Katana affected by the speed of the train while everybody else in there are spitting blood and are tossed around like rag dolls? We'll never know.

-MacLeod and Blake (John C. McGinley) have a smirking contest to end al smirking contests. I wish I could of partook in that one. He he he...

- Katana takes a cab, destroys it and the cab driver is so impressed by Katana's violent behavior hat he offers to hook him up with his sister (?!?). I can't make shit like this up. AWESOME!

-Sean Connery talks with some brunette on a plane. In other cuts we don't hear what he whispers; in this one we do... he says: In fact, it's well known that dark haired ladies like to sit on men's faces. Yeah bitches! Pure Connery.

-The Verhoeven-ish faux commercials for the Psychic Cook and the Security Video on the plane had me on the floor, rolling around like a Fruit-Roll-Up.

I'm sure there were more goods at play; but my one brain cell can only retain so much. All that to say; not only is Highlander 2 The Renegade Cut the more coherent, complete and competent of them all; its also the funniest as it had a tendency to take the excess highway; with its action scenes, its kills but also its character interactions. THANK YOU!


Sean Connery...ummm.... I mean Ramirez, doing what he does best! POON HOUNDING!

Special Edition (2004) - Run Time: 109 minutes
GET THE SPECIAL EDITION ON DVD HERE
GET THE SPECIAL EDITION ON BLU-RAY HERE

Which brings us to the end of our journey; the 2004 HIGHLANDER 2 SPECIAL EDITION or HIGHLANDER 2: THE PRODUCER'S MAKEOVER as I call it. Its basically Mulcahy's RENEGADE CUT but embellished by its producers, with over 100 improved special effects shots and all kinds of CGI enhancements (what were once matte paintings are now detailed digital backgrounds). The colors in this cut were sharper and more vibrant than in the other versions and the new surround sound mix resulted in the flick never having sounded better.


THE BLU-RAY TRAILER

One of the more important digital changes was the color of the often present shield over the earth. It used to be an ugly, shit on toast red and now its a clear blue; the way it was always meant to be as per the script. On the flipside; the worse effect change in my opinion was the redesign of the outside of the plane that Ramirez was on.  I liked the model found in the other versions more... it looked more tangible than this meh CG creation.

There's only one scene that was found in the RENEGADE CUT that was missing here: Louise holds off some inept Shield Corp guards with a machine gun. I guess they snipped it out in the name of pacing...too bad, although the film can do without it - nothing wrong with a hot chick blasting baddies away. So after all this jive; if you ask me which cut would be the one to watch; I would have to say its this Special Edition.


Before producer makeover (from Renegade version).


After producer makeover (from Special Edition).

It almost fully follows Mulcahy's Renegade Cut but on top of that today's technology was used to augment the film's audio/video quality 200%. The disk has a crap-loads of extras as well; am talking deleted scenes and in depth featurettes that chronicle the film's production woes - fascinating stuff! So if you are new to the wacky universe of HIGHLANDER 2 and wanna tap it already; see this edition - its the one to go with. In closing; I enjoyed living in Highlander 2's dirty trousers for a while. It's a great so bad its good movie with a fascinating and fairly "one of a kind" production history. The film has stayed with me over the the course of 19 years and that in itself is a feat. Amen.


ONE LAST TIME... OUTSTANDING!!!

READ PART 1 OF THIS EDITORIAL HERE

 

Extra Tidbit: I was in contact with Christophe Lambert eons ago; he was one of the first celebrities that accepted to look at my acting reel. He even gave me his 2 cents. I always remembered that; a class act.

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