The video screens at Planet Hollywood flare and blare with madness and mayhem. Bruce Willis wastes a bad guy. Sly Stallone slaughters another. That's entertainment.

Then the theme restaurant pauses for a ceremony: Guest of honor Patrick Macnee receives a black leather jacket and an umbrella, the latter signifying his role as dapper spy John Steed on television's "The Avengers."The veteran British actor makes a statement - and he wishes more filmmakers would do the same.

"Violence is a terrible thing," Macnee says. "I took pride in `The Avengers' in not carrying a gun. Of course, my umbrella concealed a blade, but violence wasn't the point."

Nor is it the point of the big-screen "The Avengers," due in theaters next Friday - at least as far as Macnee can tell. Macnee has a cameo in the movie, and he spent a week on the set with Ralph Fiennes, who plays his old role.

That cameo is supposed to be a surprise, so Macnee didn't want to talk about it. But he was eager to discuss the original "The Avengers," both as a pop-cultural artifact and as a new element on video's vista.

And A&E Home Video has released 12 digitally remastered episodes of "The Avengers" in two boxed sets costing $29.95 each. (Individual tapes cost $12.95.)

Each set will have three tapes, with two episodes per tape. They'll be in sequence from the start of the fifth season in 1967, when "The Avengers" crossed the pond to debut on ABC.

At the time, Macnee was working alongside Diana Rigg, the most popular of his four female co-stars.

Her character of Emma Peel continues in the film, played by Uma Thurman. And it's Rigg, not Macnee, who's most prominent on the new videos' box art.

Wearing smashing mod clothes and crashing into villains with a martial-arts kick, Rigg starred in 51 episodes during two seasons.

Besides those 12 episodes coming to video, a one-hour retrospective is set for cable's A&E. Hosted by Macnee, "The Avengers: The Jour-ney Back" will air Saturday, Aug. 15.

Also, Macnee and Dave Rogers have co-written "The Avengers and Me," just released by Harper-Collins ($22). It's Macnee's memoir of the show's long history.

In short, what A&E wrongly bills as a "cult" show is a widely loved and ongoing phenomenon.

The convergence of all these elements is "really more of a coincidence" than evidence of a master plan, Macnee said. "Two years ago, I had no idea a movie was even being made."

But he was aware that illegal copies of "The Avengers" videos were being peddled in the United States, and he helped fight a battle to stop such sales.

"These video pirates had the nerve to say our show was in the public domain," Macnee said. "So we had to go to court to assert the original copyright."

He's eager "for people who weren't even born when it aired to see our show the way we did it, with enhanced quality and no minutes cut out."

"The Avengers" hasn't been shown in this country since A&E ran the one-hour programs in 1990. But it was a TV staple here in the '60s and '70s. "The Avengers" debuted in Britain in 1961.

"We were before the James Bond craze," said Macnee, 76. "A lot of people think we were post-Bond. Well, we were pre-Bond."

Although he appeared in the 1985 Bond film "A View to a Kill" - and co-stars Rigg and Honor Blackman also starred in Bond movies - Macnee said he loathes 007.

"That phrase `license to kill' puts me off completely," he said. "Those three words are repulsive. I played it the opposite. I also thought, `If you have women about, why not let them do the fighting?"'

Fighting females were a big part of "The Avengers," which championed the '60s women's-liberation movement.