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Released Highlander II - European Theatrical Cut - Preservation
#1
I posted this over at the Star Wars Trilogy forum and someone suggested posting here too. 

Did you know there are five different versions of Highlander II? Yep, five. It's crazy.
  • USA Theatrical Cut
  • First European Theatrical Cut
  • Second European Theatrical Cut
  • Renegade Version
  • Special Edition
Sadly the European versions have been largely forgotten about, most likely because there has only ever been a single home release that contained the original English language audio track. Due to poor feedback the film was altered towards the end of it's run, which is why there are two European Theatrical versions.

The European versions are something like a half way house between the USA Theatrical and the Renegade; a lot of the additional content from Renegade is here but the ordering of the footage is very different and it loses a few scenes. And yes, Zeist remains intact! Much of the music throughout this version is strikingly different too. This is also the only version to contain the infamous "fairytale ending."

Back in 2008 a faneditor called Phineasbg created a preservation of the First European Cut, and I spent years trying to track it down. Once I finally got my hands on a copy I was disappointed to find that the picture quality was murky and the audio featured drop outs, glitches, missing segments and was also of overall poor quality.

Phineasbg did the an amazing job with what material was available at the time, but since then better quality visual sources have become available so I thought I'd have a go at putting together an updated preservation.

(Left: Phineasbg's Preservation, Right: This preservation)

[Image: jhoOhg3.png][Image: s7pTK53.jpg]
[Image: JqR376g.png][Image: DwNj0Ea.jpg]

As you can see, despite being a bit cropped, the visuals are much improved. However there is little I can do with the audio side. The original audio has only ever been released on a Hong Kong laserdisc, which is so rare that I have only ever spoken to one person who actually owns it. I had hoped to get a new audio rip for this preservation but sadly I've been unable to contact the laserdisc owner again. Instead I've done what I can to patch and smooth over some of the rougher parts of Phineasbg's audio. This preservation would not be possible at all without all the hard work done previously by Phineasbg.

The project ended up being a lot more complex than I expected, in the end all of the following sources went into it!
[Image: UiIhJ6p.jpg]


Many of the picture sources are in native PAL. This preservation is presented at the correct 24fps, but 576p 24 isn't a widely accepted standard, so to preserve all the detail and the correct speed I've rendered the file at 720p 24. This is still a standard definition restoration though, so don't expect HD levels of detail.

I've also thrown together a handful of video extras (detailed in the image below), I've included these as a separate download.

There are some possibilities for a 2.0 release if anyone is interested:
  • Italian and German audio tracks
  • One scene had to be reconstructed using the letterboxed Renegade DVD. I'd like to replace this with the Blu Ray cut to preserve detail, but currently I don't have a Blu Ray drive to rip my disc.
  • I'm still looking into ways to improve the audio quality 
As I have so many sources for every cut of the film, (including an excellent quality EU cut German surround track, and around 80% of the dialog and fx isolated from the Renegade cut) I'm attempting to reconstruct the audio from scratch. I've got about a quarter of the film done so far and it's sounding far better than I expected, so we'll see how it goes. I'll update if it all comes together. 

I would still love to get hold of a fresh audio rip of the laserdisc though, so if anyone can help at all then please get in touch. 

Anyway, I'll stop talking. PM for links and please let me know if you have any feedback. 

[Image: ESr9jFc.jpg]
[Image: BeDRUw4.png]

I've uploaded an older version of the UK Trailer reconstruction to YouTube if anyone wants a preview.

Program material is recorded on the other side of this disc...
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Thanks given by: TomArrow , The Aluminum Falcon
#2
Interesting. Really too bad about the laserdisc. Wish we had a Digitalizer robot in human skin that we could send back in time to track down this laserdisc and digitalize it. Wink
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#3
(2019-10-01, 03:49 PM)TomArrow Wrote: Interesting. Really too bad about the laserdisc. Wish we had a Digitalizer robot in human skin that we could send back in time to track down this laserdisc and digitalize it. Wink
I'd certainly have a few requests for the Digitalizer robot! I've got a fairly large laserdisc collection, including a few interesting rarities, but despite searching for years ths H2 Hong Kong release has eluded me.
Program material is recorded on the other side of this disc...
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#4
Are you sure that the german soundtrack is the complete european cut?
It is quite possible that Germany got additional cuts in the movie for theatrical release.
"Never cut a deal with a dragon..."
- Old Shadowrun wisdom
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#5
(2019-10-01, 04:06 PM)MrBrown Wrote: Are you sure that the german soundtrack is the complete european cut?
It is quite possible that Germany got additional cuts in the movie for theatrical release.

The German version is highly censored. As far as I know there has never been a fully uncut release of European Cut on home video. Videos detailing the cuts to the German and Italian versions are included as part of the extras of this release. Between the two (as well as the HK LD audio) it's easy to piece together the full European Version.

Despite being cut the German release provides the highest quality video and audio (despite being dubbed into German) for the European Cut.

My release has patched all the censored scenes using other sources, and features a fixed version of Phineasbg's audio. 

Phineasbg's audio quality is generally quite low so I'm currently using the best elements of all the other sources to try and closely reconstruct the original audio in English. I'm about a quarter of the way through at the moment and it's working a lot better than I expected. This approach will never be seamless but it should provide an overall better quality soundtrack for a future release.
Program material is recorded on the other side of this disc...
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#6
For your reconstruction efforts: You probably already thought of it, but you can try EQ matching to make the difference in sound less jarring. For example using iZotope.
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Thanks given by: HippieDalek
#7
(2019-10-01, 04:34 PM)TomArrow Wrote: For your reconstruction efforts: You probably already thought of it, but you can try EQ matching to make the difference in sound less jarring. For example using iZotope.
Thanks for the tip. I've not tried iZotope but I'll check it out. I've already been doing a bit of EQ matching. I carried out a test on what I estimated would be the most difficult and problematic scene and managed to get something pretty good. I'm now going through the whole film and putting together a rough edit and working out the best sound elements for each scene, then I'll take a second pass to do all the EQ stuff to smooth out the remaining jarring transitions. 

I'll do my best but I expect there will still be some noticeable transitions as I have to rely on the low quality LD rip for about 10% of the dialogue.
Program material is recorded on the other side of this disc...
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#8
Look what just arrived in the mail! After almost a decade of hunting the Hong Kong laserdisc of Highlander 2 is in my hands! 

[Image: iW48BqW.jpg]

This is the only known home release of the First European Cut to include the original English language audio for the film. It contains the English audio on both the analogue and digital PCM tracks, so I'll be looking into the best ways to preserve each and use them both to improve the audio for this preservation. 

I don't have much time at the moment but I've quickly skipped through the film, checking a few problem points from the poor quality audio track I'd been working from, and this sounds perfect! Crystal clear and no stuttering or other audio glitches. 

The picture quality is a lot better than I was expecting too.
Program material is recorded on the other side of this disc...
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