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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Battles > Swords > Quests > Highlander – Director’s Cut (1986) & Highlander 2 (1990/Lionsgate Blu-Rays)

Highlander – Director’s Cut (1986) & Highlander 2 (1990/Lionsgate Blu-Rays)

Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Films: (Highlander: B+ / Highlander 2: C-)

Russell Mulcahy brought an astounding sense of scope to what might have otherwise been a typical 80's action movie when he directed the first film in the Highlander series.  The movie took fantasy swordplay and effectively placed it in a modern day setting.  This served to connect you with its otherwise outlandish concept of immortals battling for supremacy by lopping the heads off one another.  The movie was a success in its time, and despite a deluge of bad sequels and spin-off TV shows, a dedicated fan base remains to this day.

The film is a personal favorite, and it is great to see it released on the Blu-Ray format.  Unfortunately, aside from a commentary track, there is little here to entice you into a purchase other than some deleted scenes.  Considering the multiple editions this film has had on DVD, it is likely that there will be future releases to heap on the extras - so it may be best to hold out on this one unless you are dying to see it in high definition.

Next, we have the films' first sequel, Highlander 2, also directed by Mulcahy.  As utterly ridiculous as this film was upon its initial release, I still prefer the original cut of the film to any of the revisionist versions that have come since.  The first of these new versions was entitled the Renegade Version, which completely altered the sequence and story of the movie in an effort to shape it into a more serious affair.  In this cut, the stars of the film were no longer revealed to be aliens, but rather from Earth's distant past.

The version of Highlander 2 presented here is the same as that on the 2004 Special Edition of the film.  It is much like the Renegade Version, but with new and improved CG effects.  Both of these versions of the film suffer in much the same way as Richard Donner's director's cut of Superman 2.  These films provide hard evidence that there absolutely was something better just under the surface, but ultimately reveals that you cannot reverse time and make them as intended.  The resulting films always end up with an uneven flow and are at times inconsistent with themselves.

There are several extras included for Highlander 2, with deleted scenes, trailer, and several featurettes.  However, there is no commentary track included with this film.  A shame, as I believe it would be a rather entertaining listen to hear Russell Mulcahy's scene specific thoughts on how the film is in its current state.

Both films are in 1080p high definition resolution.  Highlander is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.  The aspect ratio of the sequel is 2.35:1.  The picture is quite good on both films, with nice clean transfers.  The second film, however, looks like it may be a little too dark on this transfer.  The audio on both discs is presented in the DTS-HD format, with a 7.1 mix for Highlander 2, while the first film is only in 5.1 surround sound. They are good mixes, and they exhibit decent use of surround.

Hopefully, we someday get to have all the versions of these films available to own.  As of now, these director's cuts are the only way to enjoy them, and that is a shame for those of us who remember them as they used to be, for better or for worse.

  David Milchick


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