Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)
“It’s time for a new kind of magic.”
Directed by Russell Mulcahy.
Starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Virginia Madsen and Michael Ironside
In the sequel to 1984’s cult favourite, Highlander, the mysterious immortals from the first film turn out to be aliens exiled by the evil dictator, General Katana (Ironside), forced to fight for the right to either return to their home planet of Zeist or to become mortal and live out their days on Earth, as Connor McLeod (Lambert) has done.
In the future, an aging Connor recovers his powers and his youth when Katana – for no apparent reason – sends two giggling incompetents to kill him. Regenerated by their Quickening and motivated by bad movie sex, he then teams up with a resurrected Ramirez (Connery), and an ecoterrorist (Madsen) to bring down the ozone shield he helped to create and save the world.
The ‘Renegade’ Director’s Cut apparently makes more sense, but may be just a myth. I certainly know no one who has seen it.
What’s wrong with it?
This film is bad on so many levels. For starters, it bears little or no relation to the first film, in which the immortals were weird and mystical, with an unknown source. The degree to which the ‘sequel’ is not trying is indicated by the fact that the aliens were exiled over a thousand years after Ramirez was supposed to have been born in Egypt.
The playing is lacklustre – even Sean Connery and Michael Ironside seem to be phoning it in; the plot is incomprehensible in parts, and drivel in others. Even the sword fighting is minimal, to say the least, with only really two scenes which can even approximate to decent duels.
Yeah, and the continuity is poor.
Also, I don’t know what the female lead’s name is. I could probably look it up on IMDb, but seriously, I ought to know from watching the film.
What’s right with it?
How bad is it really?
Truly appalling. As a sequel it doesn’t work, and it lacks the justification of being a watchable movie in its own right.
Best bit (if such there is)?
What’s up with…?
- In the bit when Ramirez uses his big burst of telekinesis, why does Amazing Grace play on the bagpipes? He’s an Egyptian, and an alien. And how come his katana is stuck in the floor beside him after Connor and the woman leave, yet later on Connor is carrying it instead of his naff little Zeistian sword?
- How come Katana isn’t dead? He’s supposed to be a mortal on Zeist. And why can’t he get better help if he rules the whole planet with an iron hand? And why does he send them when Connor is about to kark it from old age anyway?
- Why, God? Why?
Production values – Poor. The lighting is not just muted, in places it’s hardly there at all. The fight scenes are clunky and awkward, and the SFX is pretty rubbish (a few cheap-looking Quickening rushes and an ozone shield that looks like a Los Angeles sunrise). 14
Dialogue and performances – The dialogue is unbelievably bad, even by action-adventure standards, with the standout piece being the explanation of how the whole Zeist-Earth/Mortal-Immortal gig works between Connor and the ecoterrorist chick, which plays like a badly gaffed version of Who’s On First? 17
Plot – There is no plot; only Zool. Slay evil; destroy bad machine. Fire bad; tree pretty. 16
Randomness – For starters, there’s the issue of why it’s called Highlander II, given that with the alien timewarp and so forth it has next to no continuity with the first film. Move past that, and the question of why Katana bothers to go after Connor trips you up. Also, how come none of the stuff they do in this one comes up in the first? It’s pretty out there, and that’s where it needs to stay. 18
Waste of Potential – Maybe Highlander wasn’t Citizen Kane, but this isn’t even Jeffrey Archer’s Kane and Abel. 18