A comparison between the US cinematic release on VHS by HBO Video and the Director's Cut by Anchor Bay (Both R-rated)
I guess, there's no need to say anything more about one of the greatest cult movies of the 80s. But something has to be said about the two different versions:
While the movie was released uncut just about anywhere else in the world - only the German versions on VHS are cut - only a 5 minutes shorter version made it to the big screen in the US. The missing scenes, however, (almost) don't contain violence, but some essential plot points and smaller cuts, that may be due to a bad master tape.
This cut version was also released in France, but contained the scene with WWII. Years later, the European cinematic version was released there as it was in the US, but it was renamed as the Director's Cut.
Interestingly, the US VHS contains two scenes that aren't featured in the uncut version.
Plus, in some scenes, there's a different dubbing. For example, when MacLeod falls out of the boat and reaches the bottom of the sea, the line in the DC is: "I'm alive!". In the cinematic version he then says: "I can breathe!" And shortly thereafter: "I'll split you in half!". According to IMDB, the latter is uttered in the European cinematic version and thus in the DC. At least on my US DVD, both lines aren't anywhere to be found, but they are on the US VHS, which represents the US cinematic release.
Additionally, there's supposed to be an even more heavily cut PG 13 version that ran in US cinemas. But I haven't seen that one yet.
Cinematic version = 110:47 min.
DC = 116:18 min.
00:00 Both versions begin with different logos. On the VHS it's the 20th Century Fox logo, on the DVD that of Studio Canal Plus.
DVD = 16.5 sec.
VHS = 21.2 sec.
03:47 During the wrestling tournament, a scene is missing in the cinematic version, where Connor MacLeod closes his eyes and has a flashback. You see various battle scenes from the past, mixed with shots of MacLeod, the audience and the wrestlers.
The cinematic version instead features some scenes of the wrestlers fighting, which can't be found in the Director's Cut.
+ 3 sec.
07:07 The scene, where Fazil is doing flic-flacs, is missing.
07:15 MacLeod watches Fazil, who's still doing flic-flacs through the underground carpark.
11:42 Some scenes of MacLeod and his men going into battle are missing in the cinematic version. MacLeod's girlfriend runs towards him and gives him flowers and wishes him luck.
32:39 When Connor is chased out of the village, he takes more punches in the DC.
33:04 A villager hits MacLeod three times in the head.
54:50 When the tower collapses, two shots are missing.
55:44 A longer shot of Ramirez after Kurgan grabbed him. Then, a shot of another part of the tower staircase collapsing, followed by a long shot of the events.
58:45 The part of the story, that tells you, why MacLeod knows Rachel, is completely missing in the cinematic version. You see MacLeod standing at the window of his apartment thoughtfully. Rachel comes by and ties his tie while they're talking. The screen rips apart and we find ourselves on a battle ground in WWII. MacLeod flees into a burnt out building. Behind a wooden structure, he discovers a frightened girl. It turns out that it's Rachel. He takes the girl in his arms and walks a bit. Suddenly he gets shot from behind by an officer from the Wehrmacht. He falls down with Rachel. But nothing happens to her (and to him, of course). Connor gets up, disarms the surprised officer and shoots him while uttering a one-liner. Then he takes the girl back in his arms and disappears with her.
59:41 After Connor says goodbye to Rachel, only the cinematic version features a shot of detective Bedsoe, who's sitting in his car in front of Brenda's appartment drinking coffee. This shot isn't in the DC.
+ 6.6 sec.
72:22 After the (unsuccessful) duel between MacLeod and Basset there's a shot missing of the enraged Bassett shooting his servant, who handed him the two pistols, in the back.
75:54 A shot of the guy, whom Kurgan impaled on his sword and the beginning of the next shot of Kurgan's face, are missing.
88:07 The shot of Kurgan licking the priest's hand in the church is missing in the cinematic version.
92:04 After the bed scene with MacLeod and Brenda, a scene taking place in the zoo is missing in the cinematic version. Brenda and Connor are standing in front of a lion's cage. MacLeod tells Brenda, that since his first wife died, he doesn't want to have another relationship, to which Brenda responds by calling him crazy. Most people are afraid to die. But he's afraid to live. She tells him to be careful and kisses him before she walks away. The most important thing of this scene, however, is that you can see Kurgan in the background watching them. When Connor turns around, he's gone.
96:51 After Connor enters the elevator, the shot of Rachel is longer in the DC. She says: "Goodbye Russell Nash.". At the same time, the screen and the elevator are going down.
99:54 A part of the showdown between MacLeod and Kurgan is missing in the cinematic release. After Kurgan was able to push Connor away from himself, he disappears. Kurgan looks around and dives into the water with a turning motion. Cut to Brenda, who's hanging down from the neon sign tied up. After that, MacLeod appears from out of the water and immediately gets attacked by Kurgan, who appears behind him.
103:47 The shot of Kurgan's head folding backwards, his throat ripping open and bright light flowing from the wound is longer in the DC.