17 November 2007

Highlander 2: The Renegade Version

Go Renegade with Highlander 2
By Kristin Battestella

Several years after his cult success with Highlander, director Russell Mulcahy tried for lightning twice. Usually, a film has high hopes if the original’s director returns for a sequel, but 1991’s Highlander II: The Quickening was a disaster in every sense of the word. Political unrest and upheaval in Argentina turned the film’s production on its ear. Mulcahy was passed his due date and out of money, so the Republic Studios took what he had filmed and released a woefully mish mashed movie.

According to Highlander II: The Quickening, Immortals like Connor McCloud (Christopher Lambert) and Ramirez (Sean Connery) are ancient aliens, and all this after the audience’s already huge leap of faith considering the supposedly penne ultimate Gathering already happened in the first movie. Returning immortals from another planet have come to earth, reopened the Gathering, and made Connor young again. Oh boy! Nine times out of ten, I will watch anything with Christopher Lambert, but here the actors are given incredibly bad, terrible dialogue. Total Recall and V: The Final Battle alum Michael Ironside plays the worst villain ever, and paired with Mario Van Peebles from Highlander III: The Sorcerer, all would agree these Highlander sequels are not worth anyone’s time.

However in 1995 Mulcahy retained the rights to his film and reissued the work as Highlander 2: The Renegade Version. Even for non-Highlander fans, this film is a must see. Despite both movies being Highlander 2, movie buffs will dig the completely different storyline, additional footage, realistic dialogue, and true characters presented in The Renegade Version.

Of the new footage, two scenes stand out. Although a new actress fills in for Brenda, the death scene between Connor and his second wife is just right. Once again McCloud must question his immortality when a loved one dies. This scene is an important bridge to the original and reiterates the imperfections of immortality.

Genre favorite Ironside gets his just with 17 minutes of extra action, including an extensive chase sequence. Unlike The Quickening, the action and struggles actually happen onscreen, and in The Renegade Version, all the effects are complete. Although the second death of Ramirez is a bit much, Connery repeats with an on form tongue in cheek performance. Quick fans will catch some naughty restored dialogue from the original Bond. With the more realistic story and dialogue, the actors can remain true to the characters established in the first film.

Highlander 2 - Renegade Version (The Director's Cut)Purists, however, still often dismiss any form of Highlander 2 for its debauchery of Highlander canon. Even future Highlander incarnations ignore the release. Highlander II: The Quickening is most definitely a sequel to skip. While it won’t win any Oscars and is still outside acceptable canon, Highlander 2: The Renegade Version is a must for film collectors and Highlander fans.

A complete list of scene sequences and comparative breakdowns between both Highlander 2s is readily available online. Start with imdb and explore from there. Look for the original Highlander 2: The Renegade Version release on VHS or check out the Special Edition DVD for more treats and enhanced special effects. This peculiar sequel circumstance has to be seen to be believed.

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