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Highlander II: The Quickening – Screen Savers

Highlander II: The Quickening – Screen Savers


Sequels rarely live up to the hype of the originals. That phrase has never been more true than for the sequel to the cult classic Highlander. I am referring to the hot mess that was Highlander II: The Quickening, released in 1991. I could not find a theatrical copy of the film, and so when I did my re-watch I used my copy of the renegade version.

According to the director, Russell Mulcahy, the renegade version helps to clear up some of the misconceptions the theatrical version raised. In 1991 they called it a sequel, but today we might call it a reboot. The sequel seemed to ignore 95% of the lore we learned in the original film. The biggest change seemed to be that instead of just being Immortals, they were also exiles from the distant past. Already I can sense your confusion and I can tell you, this is exactly what anyone who watched the first Highlander film felt when they saw this sequel.

Who’s In It?

The sequel did bring back our hero, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) the Highlander; and his dead mentor, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Sean Connery). I did not mistype that, Ramirez died in the first film and was brought back in an unexplained and confusing way. Obviously, this was the studio trying to re-kindle the on screen chemistry between Lambert and Connery. Also in this film was up and coming actress Virgina Madsen as Louise Marcus, the leader of a rebel organization and the love interest of our hero. Allan Rich was Dr. Allan Neyman, long time friend to Connor MacLeod and co-inventor of a shield that helped protect the Earth from damaging UV rays. The villain of the film, General Katana was played by Michael Ironside who is no stranger to being the antagonist. Rounding out the cast is John C. McGinley as David Blake, the corporate tycoon trying to make money off the fear of others.

What’s It About?

This is a very convoluted story that has so many plots going on that just don’t seem to work well together. From the rebels who believe that the shield protecting the Earth is no longer needed; to the Immortals fighting it out so there can be only one; to the corporate profiteering; to the life of an Immortal and the relationships they have along the way. The story and plot is almost impossible to write about because it was so bad. I am finding it very difficult to even put into words what was going on in the film, without having to describe every scene in detail. I personally believe the biggest problem with this movie was the writing. Gregory Widen was the main writer on the first film with help from Peter Bellwood and Larry Ferguson. The sequel saw Brian Clemons and William N. Panzer take over the main duties with some help from Bellwood. I think the change in writers was the beginning of the downfall of this movie.

Is It Really That Bad?

Yes… Yes it is. Watching the first Highlander film was so much fun. From the story; to the mid-80’s special effects; to the sword fighting; to the soundtrack by Queen; it was a fantasy spectacular. In comparison, Highlander II: The Quickening felt like the special effects regressed, despite being made almost 5 years after the original. The story was so bad, I already tried explaining it and failed miserably. There was a decent amount of sword fighting, but the fight scenes were not as well choreographed or very dark. The movie became a lot more sci-fi than straight up fantasy. The soundtrack wasn’t even as impressive, though they were able to include a few of the Queen songs from the first film that at least gave some semblance that this was a sequel. Bringing Sean Connery back really seemed like a movie made by the studio and not an advancement of any story point. Spoiler alert: Ramirez comes back from the dead because MacLeod calls out his name while experiencing the Quickening after killing another Immortal. Not only is Ramirez brought back in a very obscure and confusing way, but after about 15 to 20 minutes of screen time, he dies again. Rating this movie today, I would give it a low score of two out of ten.

There Can Be Only One

There Can Be Only One

In deciding to re-watch Highlander II: The Quickening, I also watched the first and third movies in the quadrilogy. While the third film, Highlander III: The Sorcerer is more in line with the original film, the original Highlander movie is the best one. As mentioned, there is also a fourth movie, Highlander: Endgame that is pretty much ignored by most fans as well. In fact, if the fans had it their way, there really would only be movie to watch in this franchise. To quote the movie’s tag line: “There can be only one!”

What To Watch Instead?

I would recommend watching the first Highlander film and enjoy that story for the stand alone gem that it is. Now, if you find yourself hankering for more MacLeod, I can recommend the TV series that was developed from the film. The TV series of The Highlander began in 1992 and ran for six seasons. There is also a reboot in the works, but has been in limbo for a few years.

Have you seen Highlander II: The Quickening? What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.