Man in Black Review: Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)


Many movie franchises have a single sequel that is so poorly received that they complete reboot the sequel franchise. Usually, such a franchise is so off-base that they produce more than one- it’s fairly rare that one of four sequels (that one not being the only poorly received film) is the only one that does not fit into the continuity of the other movies. It’s almost unheard of that a movie is cut and redubbed to tell a different story, and still be the only one that is ostracized from the rest of the story.

There is no Zeist, there are no aliens, and immortality was not a punishment for Rebels. Yet, this “past” (which functions as an alternate dimension complete with parallel timelines) is treated as a place (such as “if anyone from there comes here”), two characters whose first meeting took place in Highlander is now revealed to have met before one of them was born, and cutting off an immortal’s head doesn’t kill him any more- as long as somebody yells his name years later.

Welcome to Highlander 2: The Renegade Version, a movie that a certain so-called friend of mine demanded I see for the sake of having seen all of the Highlander movies in order before I finish the franchise. For some reason, this and The Source are the only two Highlander movies not available for streaming on Netflix. I know, that means they’re the most popular and most profitable, right? Right?

The year is 2024, and the writers of the not-exactly-perfect Highlander: Endgame were so certain of the need to shit on this movie that they killed Connor MacLeod just so this movie could never exist. Or for other reasons, but that is probably the best one that could be used to explain this. But that’s a review for another day.

The year is 2024, and because the film-makers had to find a way to top the grittyness of the streets of New York, they decided to plunge the Earth into darkness by destroying the ozone layer and placing an energy shield between it and Earth. Just to up the depression level a little bit more, they killed off Brenda, Connor’s second wife in 500 years, and made him into an old man who is just waiting to die. You know, like fans of the original movie who make it past the opening Zeist- I’m sorry, past– sequence. Just waiting to die.

Just when you think a stupid premise has been set up, but nothing too terrible (you know, for a story about immortals who summon lightning simply by fighting one another and blow up half a city block when they die), Connor yells Ramirez’s name.

That’s right. Apparently Christopher Lambert threatened to back out of this film if Sean Connery was not in it. I’m not sure what to say about this- the obvious (yet completely true) joke, the fact that Sean Connery could have been tied into this movie in a thousand ways that would have been better than this one, or the fact that I very much hope that Lambert and Connery had more fun palling around on set than the audience did watching this movie!

A central theme to every Highlander film is the romantic element. The “flashback” sequences of The Quickening are terrible, and lacking in romance, so what about the modern day romance? Well, there’s a terrorist who isn’t quite sure what to make of Connor but yell at him about being a useless old man. Until she finds out he’s an immortal and he gets his youth back. Then she just wants to get down and dirty and stay there. Connor isn’t about to say no; he just got his er- his youth back, and he hasn’t had a date in about twenty five years.

I haven’t mentioned either of the villians, so let’s talk about Katana and Dr. Cox from Scrubs. The best thing about Dr. Cox was always his delivery of great lines. There are no great lines here, and there’s really not much for John McGinley to work with here. How about the General named after the audience’s nostalgia for Ramirez’s Japanese sword? Well, he seems to recognize more in the way of pop culture references than either his minions or Ramirez. Other than that… meh. Generic immortal villain who rules by intimidating Dr. Cox and I really don’t have anything else to say about him.

The mediocrity of this film is the only thing that saves it from its awkwardness. It has its own share of orbital wobble, But most of the scenes look, if not stupendous, at least as good as the first film. Sure, it has annoying minions that serve no purpose, stupid plot points, a lack of any additions to the mythology that anybody would ever acknowledge, a completely nonsensical romance that could be mistaken as demeaning by people who read too much into it, the even more nonsensical resurrection by name yelling of… where was I supposed to be going with this sentence?

Do I recommend this movie? Have you even been listening? Like I said, first paragraph- they re-edited and dubbed this movie to tell a less terrible, alien-less story at some point after VHS release, and still movies like Endgame and The Source are too ashamed to admit it exists. This movie is the Highlander equivalent of the Star Wars Holiday Special. If you haven’t watched that of your own free will, you don’t want to do so with this, either.


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