Ah, friends. Come sit with me as we experience the Quickening. If we both stick our hands into a puddle of orange, shiny goo, we'll be shocked, and yet, united. Then we can battle the evil Katana and save Zeist from ... from what?
This is the effect of HIGHLANDER II.
HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING is set in the future. Well, at least, I think it is. The film begins on Earth in the year 1999. Then, it heads off to the planet Zeist 500 years before. Following that, we're back to Earth in the year 2024. I'd say the film is pretty much divided between being on Earth in 2024 and Zeist 500 years before, but I think it was meant to be on Earth in 2024.
Now that that's cleared up ...
Imagine, if you will, that most of what they told us in the original HIGHLANDER was crap. Immortals don't come from nowhere, they come from the planet Zeist. The entire original HIGHLANDER movie was lies! Lies! Lies!
And if you believe that, I've got some $200,000 property for you down in sunny North Carolina.
Connor MacLeod, the main character of the original film (played by Christopher Lambert), is old and dying. When, in 1999, the Earth's ozone layer was nearly completely gone, MacLeod created The Shield Corporation, which then created a shield which would protect the Earth from the sun's violent rays. But in 2024, the world is a dark dungheap, and MacLeod's pretty much to blame.
Now let's go back to the planet Zeist. General Katana (Michael Ironside) is pretty pissed. MacLeod's still alive. So he sends his two retarded minions to kill MacLeod. The extremely elderly MacLeod somehow starts dancing around like Dean Martin and beheads both of them. The power of their lifeforce makes him young once again and free to kiss terrorist Louise Marcus (Virginia Madsen) and then try to take down the world's anti-Ozone shield. Oh yeah, the ozone's healed, by the way.
So then Katana comes to Earth to kill MacLeod, who is suddenly super-cool and ready to kill Katana. But for some reason, he needs help. So the producers paid Sean Connery $3.5 million. Behold! Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez is resurrected from the dead and comes back (for nine minutes of screen time) to help MacLeod shut down the shield.
If you haven't figured it out by now, HIGHLANDER II is completely messed-up.
I haven't seen a sequel this bad in who knows how long. It contradicts the entire HIGHLANDER mythos, and thus was ignored in every other sequel and television series that followed.
But there is a good side to the film. I think Ebert said it best in his review of the film: he describes HIGHLANDER II as being "a movie almost awesome in its badness". How awesome do you hear that? But that's exactly what HIGHLANDER II is: almost awesome in its badness.
It may be one of the worst films ever made, and it may be the worst sequel, but it is also a very fun and frequently (unintentionally) funny film. In the words of the Immortal Ramirez, "If you can summon it all up, at one time, in one place, you can accomplish something glorious."
Whatever that means.
NOTE: There are two versions of the film. The theatrical version, called the Quickening, has just been reviewed here. The director's cut has been re-named the "Renegade Version" and changes much of the film's story. The film has also been completely re-edited. The Quickening version runs 89 minutes, while the Renegade version runs 109.
HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING by Russell Mulcahy. * 1/2 out of ****.