HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING

Highlander II: The Quickening

HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING (1991)

IMDb Rating: 3.8 / 10

Tagline: It’s time for a new kind of magic

 

We’re under no illusions – the original Highlander (1986) is no classic.

Fun? Certainly. Silly? Unutterably. Disposable? Deliciously.

Some of the accents are as wobbly as an aged kitchen stool, but the action is slick and the Queen songs remain hummable.

Highlander II: The Quickening

Who Wants To Watch Forever?

Wonderfully, you’ve got a French dude playing a Scot and a Scot playing an Egyptian in the employ of the Spanish court… all in New York City. But, hey, it was the 80s- everyone was too strung out on coke and nuclear disarmament to care.

In fact, the movie was a perfect embodiment of mainstream cinema at that time – glossily superficial and inventive, with a ridiculous premise, and possessed of a safe and satisfying ending.

By the time the closing credits roll on the original Highlander, our hero has battled through time itself to vanquish his mortal enemy and claim the mystical ‘Prize’. If it had been wrapped up any neater you’d have been looking for a “Good luck in the future, Connor MacLeod” balloon loosely tied to the video box.

So where do go you from there? Well, spectacularly failing to recognize the irony inherent in the oft-quoted mantra ‘There Can Be Only One’, if you’re making Highlander II: The Quickening, you scribble a list of everything that made your original enjoyable, and flush it down the toilet.

Let’s fast forward a moment though- Russell Mulcahy, director of both Highlander II: The Quickening, as well as its predecessor, was forcibly removed from the project shortly after calling “cut” for the final time, and subsequently even campaigned to have his name taken off the film. At the movie’s world premiere, he reportedly walked out after only 15 minutes.

He’s one of the lucky ones.

We watched the whole thing.

Highlander II: The Quickening

"Un...plug...the...toaster..."

We’re immediately reunited with Connor MacLeod in the year 2024, where he’s old and knackered and very mortal. Suddenly, through the timeless and mystical art of the contrived voice over, he remembers that he’s not actually a 16th century Scottish warrior after all. In fact, he’s an alien from the planet Zeist and so is his very good friend Sean Connery (again playing Ramirez – apparently Zeistians are given geographically specific Earth-like names at birth). It’s a plot point that puts the clan in clanger.

On some occasions, the sequel downright contradicts the original… on others, it drags it down a dark alley and gives it a good kicking.

Basically the entire first Highlander movie is passed off as a gladiatorial contest to see who should be permitted to return home – kind of like The X Factor- but with more decapitations and less botox.

All of these bewildering plot contrivances are somehow at the behest of Michael Ironside’s evil General Katana. Apparently that’s what you do if you’re a murderously brutal alien chieftain who we’ve already witnessed slaughtering half his planet’s population, you banish your mortal enemy and provide him with a fighting chance of someday returning to defeat you. That makes about as much sense as…

…as…

…as the hero’s ability to somehow summon his mentor and friend Ramirez back into existence…by simply calling out his name. A technique he’s never thought about trying at any point in the past 500 years.

This is a film that creeps up on logic and swings a broadsword at its unsuspecting face.

Highlander II: The Quickening

General Knowledge

All this makes about as much sense as the villain transporting himself to Earth to finish off MacLeod but then somehow sidestepping his mission in lieu of trying his hand at driving subway trains and climbing the corporate ladder. The General has been revising it seems, as he’s also mysteriously well versed in Earth’s popular culture – citing the NFL’s draft system, high school politics and The Wizard Of Oz at various points in the movie, as well as actually calling MacLeod a “Highlander” (despite the fact that he’s NOT a Highlander and Ironside knows it).

There’s also some barely comprehensible rubbish about a planet-wide shield that may or may not be protecting Earth from a dwindling ozone layer but, really, if that’s what you’re focusing on, you’ve missed the point and need to see me after class.

Supposedly the production of the movie was beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish (the studio looking to milk whatever it could from fans of the original) and the tyranny of evil men (the film’s insurers wrestling control from director Russell Mulcahy during post-production). But that hardly matters. Subsequently reshot, recut versions of the film have shrivelled the hardiest of testicles every bit as effectively.

Unlike most truly bad films (and, rest assured, this is right up there with the worst), most technical aspects of the movie are actually perfectly passable. Like the original Highlander, lighting, camera, production design, stunts, editing, some special effects – are all in place. These are the essential ingredients used to cook up the ideal movie stew. However, if someone secretly shat in the pot before you started, it’s always going to end up tasting more Kevin Smith than Delia Smith.

Between the release of the original Highlander and that of its bastard offspring, Mulcahy did nothing.

Lambert, next to nothing.

Connery went off and turned in the 4 greatest screen performances of his career (the 5th is in Goldfinger, in case you’re wondering). And so it’s perhaps no surprise that only Connery’s career survived a Quickening that was actually as plodding as an arthritic tortoise climbing a hill.

 Highlander… There Should Be Only One.


Highlander II: The Quickening Trailer

 

 

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