HIGHLANDER 2 has had a troubled history
from the beginning. The producers put themselves into a corner with the end of the first movie. They made some mistakes by
trying to write themselves out of that dead end. Then they found Argentina when they thought was a great place to film the
sequel. The problems were only to begin as they were mandated to expand Sean Connery's role beyond a cameo and they had to
bring in new crew members (and equipment) from other countries as the movie's production went on because Argentina's
film industry wasn't experienced for the production of a film like Highlander 2. The problems continue to mount as the producers
and director Russell Mulcahy fought with the bonding company before the bonding company stepped in and took over the movie.
However, HIGHLANDER 2 redeemed itself when
a Director's Cut was released in 1995 incorporating scenes cut from the movie (and scenes shot 4 years after the movie was
first released) edited in their proper order and the references to the immortals coming from the Planet Zeist were cut out.
Now the producers have been able to visit the Director's Cut again in 2004 with over 100 new and improved special effects
shots (however one short scene before the climatic fight between Katana (Michael Ironside) and Connor MacLeod (Christopher
Lambert) did get cut). The special effects make me like HIGHLANDER 2 even more despite the loss of one scene. The original
HIGHLANDER 2 (aka HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING) was a mess and the DC clears things up (and the new special effects in the
2004 edition look better than the original effects).
HOW DOES THIS MATCH UP TO PREVIOUS EDITIONS:
The video is the best it is going to be
for the film from all previous video presentations of HIGHLANDER 2- the darker scenes in the film aren’t a little murky
t times like the 2004 SE. It is like Olive Films improved on the transfer of the film despite some scenes that can’t
be improved due to the various elements used to make the special effects for the film.
2000 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen version of the Renegade Version looked good with good sound, but the 2004 Special Edition DVD
improved on that with an Anamorphic Widescreen transfer which has some image noise, but the 6.1 DTS track is much better than
the 2.0 DTS track presented on the Olive Films disc. The Olive Films disc focuses
on the dialogue and music where the music and dialogue is louder on the 2004 DVD in addition to having distinct sounds you
can tell apart with various sound levels. The Blu-ray looks like an upscaled
to hi-def version of the DVD. The 7.1 DTS track is about the same to the 6.1 DTS track on the DVD
Olive Films had no subtitles track were
the 2004 SE DVD did, but you had to turn them on from the SET UP menu.
Olive Films dropped the ball on this one. It might have come to budget,
but they should have been able to clear some of the old extras from the Lionsgate releases or produced new extras.
This version came about because the rights
to the Republic Pictures library expired and Paramount which bought Spelling Entertainment who had purchased Republic Pictures
years before. They licensed the library out to Artisan who was in turn bought
by Lionsgate. It could be a case that the extras were produced under license
to Lionsgate from the 2004 Special Edition, but the making-of documentary from the 2000 DVD is something produced for Republic
Pictures in 1997 which means Paramount owns that old documentary on the film. Olive Films didn’t even make a good menu system where the 2004 SE has a great
menu system with video and music.
FINAL ANALYSIS: HIGHLANDER 2 has the best picture quality than any previous DVD or Blu-ray version, but the previous 2004
Special Edition on DVD and Blu-ray has a superior audio track. If you want all
the extras from the film, track down the two releases from Lionsgate - the 2000 DVD has a good audio commentary with director
Russell Mulchay and producers Peter Davis and William Panzer in addition to a making-of documentary) while the 2004 Special
Edition (on DVD but the Blu-ray is missing the B roll footage on disc 1 of the DVD) has around two hours of making-of extras,
deleted scenes, a Cannes promo reel, and theatrical trailer.
This review is (c)2-26-2013 David Blackwell
and contains excerpts from a Highlander 2 DVD review written in December 2004. This
review cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org