"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Highlander II: The Quickening

“It’s weird how they built a huge franchise off of the first film. I can’t quite understand it. It’s like they say in the film ‘There can only be one. ‘ In a genre film you can create any scenario you like, but once you break your own rules, the audience feels betrayed, which is what happened with HIGHLANDER II.”–Russell Mulcahy to Money Into Light, 2016

“The more cornered we were, the more stupid things we had to come up with.”–Christopher Lambert

From the dawn of 1986 they came…moving stylishly down through the decades. Movies, TV shows, cartoons, struggling to reach the time of The Reviewing, when Vern will look back at the whole franchise

I missed out on being disappointed by HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING with the rest of the world in 1991. Somehow I never watched the HIGHLANDER movies until the 21st century, at which point I’d lived many years knowing part II had been universally rejected and mocked. And when I did watch it it was the re-edited and 19-minutes-longer “Renegade Version” put together for DVD in 1997, and I’ll be honest – I liked it! I’ve always been one for weird, not-taking-the-easy-road sequels like BABE: PIG IN THE CITY, BATMAN RETURNS, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, BRIDE OF CHUCKY, RETURN TO OZ, JASON X, etc. So I was into the idea of Connor MacLeod in a dystopian future city working with rebels to, uh… blow up a shield around the earth, because it’s not necessary anymore. I mean — sure. Why not?

In 2004 the Renegade Version was further altered with (thankfully well-integrated) digital FX, and, like the STAR WARS Special Editions, has become the only cut available on DVD and Blu-Ray. And these special editions all changed the infamous HIGHLANDER II reveal that the Immortals actually come from another planet called Zeist. That seems like important information to understand, so I knew that for this rewatch I had to go to the original theatrical cut on VHS. I needed Zeist.

And on second viewing yeah, okay, I get it, this is a ridiculous sequel. It tells us that oh yeah, this guy Connor McLeod (still Christopher Lambert) who didn’t understand why he was an Immortal, actually he must’ve forgot he got sent there from Planet Zeist as punishment for rebelling against General Katana (Michael Ironside, VISITING HOURS) and the whole immortality/The Gathering thing was part of the sentence but also The Prize is they can either choose mortality on earth or return to Zeist. And this guy Ramirez (still Sean Connery) he actually already knew on Zeist and by the way Ramirez told him to just call his name if he ever needed him, even after death. So it turns out yelling his name once or twice can resurrect him. Seems a little too easy.

The first film was self-contained. It had such a nice, neat ending to his story. And even the title, referring to this one guy coming from the highlands, makes it hard to try to build into a larger universe of Immortals. (For example, how does the villain in this one know to call him “Highlander”? Why is that a relevant description to a guy who just got here from Zeist?) Of course, many clever sequels have made us forgive those sorts of cheats. But the stretch they take here feels kind of insulting.

On the other hand, happy endings aren’t always ever after, and even without immortality you could end up a widower growing old watching the world destroy itself, as McLeod does after his wife Brenda dies from the empowered-by-lack-of-ozone-layer sun. And there’s something pretty cool about putting Lambert in old man makeup by Academy Award winner Greg Cannom (VICE) that goes away after he gets Quickeninged again by decapitating two obnoxious Zeistian thugs that Katana sends after him.

Also, being from Zeist explains why the actors don’t fit the supposed nationalities of their characters! I love that!

But there’s a muddled, aimless feel and those goggled, giggling attackers (Pete Antico [Abraham Lincoln in BLACK DYNAMITE] and Peter Bucossi [STREET HUNTER]) kinda remind me of SUPER MARIO BROTHERS: THE MOVIE. There’s much too much wackiness between Katana coming to earth (scaring people on a subway, terrorizing a cabbie [Phillip Brock, AMERICAN NINJA]) and Ramirez coming back to life (he interrupts a performance of Hamlet, gets confused by an airplane, etc.) There’s also a weird joke that the safety video on the plane scares him because it shows the passengers in terror and a plane crashing and blowing up. I don’t know what that’s supposed to satirize. When one of the best scenes is Sean Connery hitting on a lady on an airplane that might be a problem for your action-sci-fi-fantasy movie. I don’t even understand why we needed to see him travel or what he’s talking about, I just like how genuinely into him she looks.

Another strange touch, though I’m not really against this one, is that the Queen song “A Kind of Magic” now exists in the world of Highlander, not just on the soundtrack, and MacLeod likes it enough to play it on a diner jukebox. I wonder if he remembers that that’s what he said to Rachel some 80 years ago. The rock soundtrack is one unique HIGHLANDER element that is sadly abandoned in the sequels. At least they got Stewart Copeland to do the score, and he does some weird synthy parts.

Katana follows in the Kurgan tradition: he has a giant sword, he pushes everybody around, he’s not made for these times, he misbehaves for a while, he confronts MacLeod in a church paying respects to a lost wife. The other villain is David Blake (John C. McGinley, POINT BREAK), corrupt CEO of The Shield Corporation, who conspires to keep the shield up forever even though they’ve discovered that it’s no longer necessary. Weirdly, McLeod was the co-creator of the shield, so, like Forrest Taft in ON DEADLY GROUND, he has an old man friend on the inside (Allan Rich, AMISTAD) as a whistleblower. This also has made him famous, and sometimes people recognize him in public and give him shit because the shield causes the sky to be red and for it to be night at all times.

One person that spots him in public is Louise Marcus (Virginia Madsen, CANDYMAN), T.S.C. employee turned leader of the environmental terrorism group Cobalt, trying to blow up the shield. She tries to get his help, then witnesses him turning young from The Quickening. Eventually they become co-conspirators/lovers. He tends to fall for blond mortals with very specific expertise. He still has his vault, so she sees his 1902 football team photo and his 1855 ship log. That’s the Immortal version of a new girlfriend finding your old yearbooks.

Katana is an okay villain I guess. I think Ironside could have pulled off a more complex and interesting evil character than this, but obviously he’s also a strong choice for this type of generic fantasy movie dictator.

After this viewing I decided to watch the Blu-Ray version. Mulcahy had wanted to take his name off the theatrical release, which was re-edited by the bond completion company, and reportedly walked out of the premiere after 15 minutes. The current version may somewhat return to his vision, but I think also alters some widely hated aspects with the benefit of hindsight and technology – most significantly, of course, Planet Zeist. The flashbacks are still in there, but Ramirez calling out “Free men of the Planet Zeist, hear me” becomes “Free men of the planet, hear me.” Now it’s on Earth during a forgotten past that’s both medieval and technological (like MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE). The crashed airplane where the rebels meet is repainted into some old, exotic buildings.

Katana’s men and even MacLeod are still seen holding machine guns, though they don’t fire them. New priest dialogue explains that here, Immortals like MacLeod and Ramirez are feared and exiled to the future to kill each other. I guess The Prize is just a built-in way to reduce the prison population.

Before their sentencing, Ramirez had identified MacLeod as a chosen one to rise up against Katana, and did a magic ritual that bonded them. This mythology seems more sensible than the Zeist version, but it doesn’t match up to part 1 any better. Maybe I missed something about their memories being erased? I don’t see how this can fit with part 1’s depiction of MacLeod meeting Ramirez and learning about immortality and The Game and everything for the first time in 16th century Scotland.

And on second thought it introduces new time travel related problems that make less sense than in the Zeist version. Katana and the priests on Zeist watching a video monitor of MacLeod on earth was standard, but now they’re in the ancient past watching a live feed of the future? They decide go after MacLeod because he hasn’t yet chosen whether he would take the mortality or the trip back to Zeist if he won. Why do they care, and how does this even work? Shouldn’t they check further into the future to see if he makes up his mind, or if he even wins? Could Katana fast forward a little and see himself in the future getting killed by MacLeod?

But it’s still a much better movie just by the way it opens. Replacing MacLeod’s clunky narrated shield backstory with a little bit of text, it goes right to the long, incredible credits shot moving down a giant statue in 2024 New York, landing on a plaque commemorating 25 years of the shield, then moving into the opera house. It’s immediately clear that this was Mulcahy’s intended opening because of the way it mirror’s HIGHLANDER’s in Madison Square Garden. Instead of watching wrestling from the cheap seats now he’s an old man watching an opera from the balcony. Well, sleeping in the balcony, and then waking up. The stylized set and costumes of the opera cause him to flash back to the past – let’s call it the Zeist Age – glorifying MacLeod (I think… or is that Ramirez?) as some kind of sci-fi Lawrence of Arabia.

That the whole sequence is set to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung helps make it feel effectively epic. And in this iteration they remove the laughable “Yes, yes I remember,” voiceover where MacLeod seems to be suddenly remembering his life on another planet that had slipped his mind.

I like the odd detail that the roof is leaking in the opera house and many seats are covered with tarps. Though I wonder if that was to save money on extras.

Going from VHS to Blu-Ray is a huge visual leap. The widescreen, the high resolution and the improved FX (though I miss the blazing red skies) make for another great looking Mulcahy movie. The cinematographer this time is Phil Meheux (THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, Max Headroom, GHOST IN THE MACHINE, GOLDENEYE, MASK OF ZORRO, CASINO ROYALE). Suddenly the battle with those giggling, porcupine-haired assholes from the past seems way cooler. This time I loved the part where they’re fighting on an automated train with wagon-like wheels, and the guy falls off and gets his neck run right over, severing his head. There’s this beautiful shot following the sparks of Quickening electricity from his neck stump to a random can on the street to another piece of metal to a car to another car until it reaches MacLeod. (I learned from the extras that they were animating it to look like a creature and that they were very happy with it and didn’t change it for the new version.)

Since that Quickening makes him younger and more agile he’s able to steal the dead guy’s hoverboard to chase the guy with the winged jetpack, which is an exciting RETURN-OF-THE-JEDI-speeder-bike type high speed FX chase scene.

Not dumping out all the backstory at the beginning makes for a better tale. People are asking him “Are you MacLeod?” before we find out that they know him because he was involved with creating the shield, so it’s more of a compelling reveal than when he just blurts it out in narration. (Some street toughs run away when they realize he’s MacLeod, so maybe his reputation is more than scientific.) And there’s an added scene where Brenda (Karin Drexler) on her death bed from radiation sickness makes Connor promise to do something about the sun killing everyone. The camera slowly pulls back showing that she’s surrounded by other beds, like a military hospital. But then it keeps going further and further and no, this is like a giant hangar filled with row after row after row of people dying from the sun. The RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK warehouse of people dying from the sun.

And finally it ends on a sign that says “AREA F.6 SOUTH SOLAR RADIATION WARD.” So, you know, this is one of many.

(For the theatrical cut the producers plopped the epic part of the shot, minus the setup that makes it great, into the prologue.)

But don’t worry, MacLeod finds love again. There’s an added scene after killing the two flying guys. Louise watches the fight, sees how young he now looks and asks “Who are you?”

“I’m Connor MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, and I cannot die.”

And then they kiss and he spins her around and they fuck up against the wall to an orchestrated version of Queen’s “Who Wants To Live Forever” from part 1.

In the post-coital scene at his place she tries to goofily summarize how his immortality and de-aging works, kind of the same way they make fun of the mogwai/gremlin rules in GREMLINS 2, except in this case they’re including new additions to the rules that were made up for this installment.

For me I think bringing Ramirez back from the dead is the most ill-judged part of the movie. I know I’m absolutely alone on this, but just like with INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE and THE ROCK I really don’t find Connery’s “I’m being funny now” scenes to be half as charming as the rest of the world seems to. I mean, there’s a trying on suits montage set to the William Tell Overture. He pays for it with an earring. Can you believe it? What a rascal! They certainly aren’t entertaining enough comic interludes to justify the flimsiest ever excuse for bringing a dead character back to life. The guy has been dead for 500 years and all MacLeod had to do to bring him back was say his name? But only this one time so now he wasted it?

On the positive side, I do enjoy the way they break into the prison together (they get themselves shot by the guards at a checkpoint, play dead and get brought into a morgue inside). And I like that Ramirez Obi Wans himself by using his lightning powers to save them from a giant futuristic fan that’s lowering down onto them. I don’t know about “Amazing Grace” playing on bagpipes as he does his magic – that’s a little corny.

But I just love that it’s a giant fan because

1) as my friend Wil pointed out, the giant fan is the natural enemy of people who can only die by having their heads cut off, and

2) I noticed in Mulcahy’s music videos and I think in RAZORBACK that he sure does love the image of a big spinning fan with a light behind it. In fact, the CEO of The Shield Corporation’s office is in front of a window with a giant fan behind it.

I guess now I can understand why these guys are such bastards, having to spend their days (which look like nights) in depressing office setups like that.

Now I think we need to address the big question: why the hell does the story of the Highlander end up being about the ozone layer? Did Mulcahy, screenwriter Peter Bellwood (returning after rewriting part 1) and story-by-ers Brian Clemons (CAPTAIN KRONOS – VAMPIRE HUNTER) and William M. Panzer (one of the producers), just feel strongly about the environment? Or I guess about methods used to save humanity from environmental catastrophe eventually becoming unnecessary but being continued in the name of greed? It all seems a little random. The part I like is the idea that if you can live forever but everybody else dies from radiation burns then the world is gonna become a huge bummer. That’s a legitimate extrapolation from the Immortal concept.

Also it forces me to wonder if/how Immortals could survive a nuclear war since it likely wouldn’t decapitate them.

I think the hardest thing for me to swallow at first was that MacLeod helped design the shield. It seems so out of character from anything we know about his past or that we see him doing even in this movie. They don’t really make this clear, but I’m guessing it connects to his explanation of The Prize at the end of the first film. He told Brenda, “It’s like a whirlwind in my head. But if I concentrate I know what people are thinking all over the world. Presidents, diplomats, scientists. I can help them understand each other.” And maybe this ability helped him to… design a giant pyramid that will last a thousand years that creates a laser grid around the planet that absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. As you do.

(This power is never specifically addressed, though, and there are times when mind reading could probly help him out.)

Also in the first film there are a few voiceovers by Ramirez, which might be memories, but at the end when he tells Connor about his “power beyond imagination,” it really seems like a visitation. So that sort of sets the stage for him coming back in this one. I guess.

I think overall if I have to choose one or the other, my feelings toward HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING are still mostly positive. It’s a clunky mess full of dumb “what were they thinking?” shit, but I enjoy its misjudged ambition, its moments of DUNE-like sci-fi craziness…

the various examples of Mulcahy visual goodness…

Zeist really does look like an opera!

Not to stereotype, but Immortals really do like to swordfight inside a flooded place lit through a big wall of windows

…and the filmatism of the best sequences like the opera house and the street battle. If you want to call it a fiasco I’m not gonna argue with you, but I give it points for strangeness, ambition and partial slickness.

1991 was the year of one of my favorite sequels ever – in fact, a sequel to a movie that seemed to be an inspiration for the original HIGHLANDER – TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY. And THE QUICKENING is definitely no T2! But most of the sequels that year were not as earthshaking. You had THE NEVERENDING STORY 2: THE NEXT CHAPTER, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE, F/X2, THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2: THE SMELL OF FEAR, PROBLEM CHILD 2, RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON, CHILD’S PLAY 3 (the worst of the series in my opinion), AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST and FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (I kinda like it, but I’m weird). Besides T2, about the only 1991 sequels now held in high regard are BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY and I think STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY. HIGHLANDER II is definitely not the best of this group of films, but it’s one of the oddest and most interesting.

In honor of the artistic boldness/recklessness of HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING, I have introduced the new PLANET ZEIST 500 YEARS AGO t-shirt/button design to my line of customizable lifestyle products available at Vern’s Fleamarket. That’s right, HIGHLANDERLAND is a multi-platform event!

p.s. Since I wasn’t following this series as it was released I really didn’t realize that THE QUICKENING came out the same year as Mulcahy’s RICOCHET. Now there’s a movie that puts his energetic filmatism and silly, over-the-top tendencies into an effective package.

CONTEXT:

Other action films released in 1991:

LIONHEART, FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER, AMERICAN NINJA 4: THE ANNIHILATION, THE HARD WAY, IF LOOKS COULD KILL, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE, OUT FOR JUSTICE, TOY SOLDIERS, F/X 2, HUDSON HAWK, ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, THE ROCKETEER, POINT BREAK, V.I. WARSHAWSKI, DOUBLE IMPACT, HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN, COMPANY MAN, THE HITMAN, THE LAST BOY SCOUT

Other sci-fi films released in 1991:

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY

Other fantasy films released in 1991:

THE NEVERENDING STORY II: THE NEXT CHAPTER, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, HOOK

I think this list proves that alot of weird, crazy, arguably misjudged movies came out in ’91. THE QUICKENING wasn’t alone.

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 at 10:26 am and is filed under Action, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

58 Responses to “Highlander II: The Quickening”

  1. Ah here we go. This is maybe *the* classic case of accidentally blowing up your franchise by overcomplicating it. The Zeist stuff is just so unnecessary and so out-of-left-field that it’s just mind blowing. Like imagine BLADE 2 reveals that oh actually they aren’t vampires, they’re just aliens that ACT like vampires and are trying to gather enough blood to power a rocket back to their homeland. Just…why? Why can’t they just be vampires? Why can’t they just be secret swordfighting immortals?

    I do like other elements of this one though. Seeing the older MacLeod after winning the Prize is an interesting idea, and I like how he’s sort of an unpopular figure due to the sun shield stuff. Honestly the whole movie feels like two or three different scripts that were mashed together and none of them started as a Highlander sequel. This is very much a movie I put on when I have a cold and am deep in a DayQuil haze- it’s basically perfect for that.

    I remember hearing somewhere (though I can’t seem to confirm it now) that Connery straight up walked off with that prop suit they measure him for onscreen in this, which seems like an extremely Connery move.

  2. I remember when the trailer for this came out and me and all my friends all had the same question: There was a HIGHLANDER 1? That’s how much impact the original film had here in the States. Not a single one of us, who’d grown up devouring every 80s sci-fi-fantasy movie we could get our hands on, had never even heard of it. I thought the trailer looked really cool, though, so I went back and rented the first HIGHLANDER, which I declared an unheralded masterpiece. So imagine my befuddlement when I finally got to see the second one and it contradicted every single thing about the first one right out of the gate. I didn’t really care that it essentially blew up the internal logic set down by the first one, though, since it had swordfights on hoverboards and more squibs placed on the human body than I had ever seen before in my life. It’s essentially the NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 of the series: Fine for incidental thrills as long as you don’t what it does to the first one.

    I love the commentary track for this one, where the producers spend the whole time gushing over how their fancy new cut has solved all of the film’s problems and Mulcahy is just sitting there like, “Uh…yeah. Sure, guys. Whatever you say.”

  3. Is Lambert’s Beowulf a sidequel to this? You mentioned Super Mario, I still think Rocky Morton & Annabel Jankel should have put their overcast worldbuilding design skills towards Robocop 2, Judge Dredd, or maybe even Highlander 2 instead.

  4. Yeah even after renting the Renegade Cut (probably the last disc I ever rented from Netflix), I realized Highlander 2 just can’t be saved – it’s a failure in almost every respect, even disregarding what it does to the first one. I absolutely love all 4 of the leads in other movies, which makes my total lack of interest and involvement in this one that much worse.

    Then again, the only good thing to come out of this movie is the Labatt Ice beer commercial Michael Ironside possibly does in character as Katana.

  5. I still don’t understand why they didn’t just go with the simplest way to justify a HIGHLANDER sequel: make possession of the Prize transient. MacLeod states at the end of the original that in addition to feeling connected to all life, he is freed from his immortality and can now father children. Well, then still set the sequel in the future, but have Connor be Methuselah-levels of old and on his deathbed at the start of the sequel. When he dies, the Prize is released back into the world, and the Game begins anew. It doesn’t seem like rocket surgery.

  6. If for nothing else, I adore this film for gracing us with Roger Ebert’s best review of all time. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/highlander-2-the-quickening-1991

    This movie has to be seen to be believed. On the other hand, maybe that’s too high a price to pay.

  7. I did care what this did to the first one, and so I’d argue this is up there as one of the most disappointing – not necessarily worst – sequels ever.

    They had double the budget, the stars of the original, plus one of the great pulp villain actors of our time coming to it fresh from TOTAL RECALL, and they gave us Planet Zeist. WTactualF!

    Sorry Vern, I wish you every success with the T-shirt, but if I stumbled across HIGHLANDER II on TV, I’d change the channel.

  8. Even though this is the sequel that makes the least sense in a series that never manages to make sense, I find it the most watchable. Maybe it’s a combination of the Connery schtick which works for me and my fetish for the ’90s idea of what the future would be like. But yeah, if you get a flying sequence like that who cares what sense it makes?

    I saw this in theaters because my friend wanted to. I had seen the poster for Highlander but not the movie. He watched the movie in preparation so when the Zeist flashback came on I asked him, “Was this from the first movie?” Befuddled, he answered, “No, I’ve never seen this before either.”

    I’m generally not a fan of retconning mythology like saying the immortals are suddenly from another planet, but maybe because Zeist is the underdog now I kinda miss it. Anyway, we’ll always have Zeist.

  9. Yeah, this movie is awful, but it was an awful movie of its time. With a sizable budget, lots of cool imagery, and enough exuberantly bizarre occurrences to at least keep things interesting (the worst thing a movie can be is boring, Highlander II ain’t that at least). Messy, berserk, crappy movies with this sort of production value just don’t get made anymore.

    Its bad, but its a more lovable bad than later Highlander films will be. I’ll watch it again well before some of its more traditionally competent sequels.

  10. That’s real talk on Sean Connery vs. humor. I realized that he’s one of those guys that I never liked, and don’t find charming, but that culture around me assumed admiration for.

    What a great series to review.

  11. That Ironside beer commercial has to be set in the same universe as this.

  12. Is this review series going to include the HIGHLANDER anime movie? Because that one is a similar idea of MacLeod in a dystopian future city.

  13. My crush on Virginia Madsen began with this movie.

  14. I was lucky (?) enough to see a version of this which had all the footage of this in the original order when I was in Sri Lanka (due to some weird loophole in the law, or at least non-enforcement people could dub videos and rent them out including the previously unknown cousin of my father who I rented it from – the husband of another cousin worked for Arthur C. Clarke as it happens).

    Anyway, it made watching it again in Australia an interesting experience because they’d chopped and changed the edit around a lot and it was quite jarring in a number of places (the original version I saw at least was relatively cohesive).

  15. I’ll always have a soft spot for this silly movie. I think it’s the only, non-anime, watchable/interesting sequel. Plus when the movie has this much style, who cares?

    I gotta admit though… I prefer the US theatrical version. If you’re gonna watch this movie, may as well full-crazy (though the Renegade/Special Edition is much closer to being a legit movie).

  16. I remember seeing this when it was new on video. I didn’t know what to make of it, but kind of figured I had misremembered the first one (even though I had just watched that only a few days before). I liked the two weird bird guys on hoverboards and really liked that it took place in a weird dystopian future.

    I rewatched it a couple years ago. First time I had seen the Renegade Cut. I kind of got what was hated but still enjoyed it. Doesn’t hold a candle to the original but is a fucked up crackpipe of a movie for sure.

  17. i had just touhed down in HK, huge fan of Highlander and found out Highlander 2: The Quickening was opening that day, dropped off bags at hotel and raced into a huge cinema to watch it, epic surroundings and 90 minutes later i figured, i must have jet lag, thats why it makes no sense and just seemed so meh…a couple of days i revisited it and was just as confused….always found myself going back to it, hoping it would get better and loving Ironside’s turn, the flying chase and Connery in fine form….the Renegade was one of the first DVDs i ever picked up and the entire backstory and commentary was an eye opener…the ZEIST edition does make it even better and there are still some great moments even if its a slighty missed opportunity to say the least…..

    But far superior to Highlander 5: we Were sourced!

  18. You’re so right. I love flawed-but-swinging-for-the-fences sequels more than competent-but-safe sequels.

  19. “Why can’t they just be secret swordfighting immortals?”

    The Argentine financiers basically said, “Hey, the kids like outer space shit, so put in some outer space shit.”

    When I met Michael Ironside, I had him sign my Highlander II laserdisc. He said he had a blast filming it, loved his time in Argentina, and his luxurious hair.

  20. I predict this review series will become another pivotal moment in the sights history. Vern usually shies away from reviewing TV but I always wanted to see his take on HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES cause I felt it would have a lot of stuff he’d actually appreciate as an action genre afficionado. Thank you 2019! cause it seems like it’s finally gonna happen.

  21. Oh and I will always have a soft spot for THE RENEGADE VERSION since it’s the one I owned. I do remember seeing THE QUICKENING when it first hit VHS but I barely remember it except for Lambert ans the girl disappearing “into the stars” at the end there. So all the alien shit never really traumatized me cause I only revisited the movie again once the RENEGADE cut popped off in stores.

  22. Oh and THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2 held up extremely well and is just as good as the first. Matter of face its one of the few movies at the time I actually PPV’ed cause it was always rented out. That one and HOT SHOTS! That zoo animal running joke to me is one of the goats and the sight of George Kennedy reving up the “chainsaw” at the sex shop is still one of the greatest displays of the “this dopey guy used to play badasses and straight up villains in his prime” comedy movie juxtapositions.

  23. I seem to remember that when this came out – in the dark ages before internet – there were magazine articles about how Mulcahy was fired and somebody else finishing the movie. But there are no reports of this online, as I can see.

  24. This all could have made perfect sense if they just added a bit that explained that the trip to earth gave them all amnesia. That would have been cool – they have no idea why they exist, but fate brings them all together.

  25. I’m no big fan of Connery either, and he really is the Jar Jar of this movie. And when you read that he was accused of sexual harassment during the production, well…

  26. Connery’s got the first HIGHLANDER, UNTOUCHABLES, LAST CRUSADE, THE PRESIDIO, and his cameo in TIME BANDITS to his credit. Everything else about him is massively overrated. He strikes a cool pose but god, what a fucking vain prick. Like John Wayne, he’s an exemplar of an outdated ideal of masculinity that seems pretty toxic in retrospect, and that has affected how I feel about his screen persona. I didn’t miss him when he retired.

  27. I’ve always had a soft spot for this, yes doubtless helped by seeing it in the early 2000s when it had a reputation as one of the worst mainstream films of all time. Zeist or no Zeist, I find it very entertaining in a FLASH GORDAN way, and the big budget shows. It’s certainly more memorable than the third (actually the first HIGHLANDER I saw).

  28. Still hoping for a Vern review of SIR BILLI. I mean…he reviewed FOOD FIGHT!

  29. Also every time I see that SIR BILLI trailer, I wanna listen to Etienne de Crecy.

  30. Mr M- What about his Bond flicks? My mom was always a big Bond fan, so I’ve seen them all a million times over the years and I’ll go to the mat for FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE as an absolute all-timer. I think it’s easily the best Old Bond movie and it’s the sweet spot where Connery has a grasp on the character and isn’t phoning it in yet. I don’t think he’s my *favorite* Bond, necessarily, but it’s my favorite role of his for sure (plus that train fight with Quint, come on, that would have my vote for best action scene in *any* Bond movie if it wasn’t for the opening of Casino Royale).

    Though if you wanna laugh at him, I highly recommend revisiting revisiting RISING SUN, where he’s the most (unintentionally) hilarious he’s ever been as an extreme megaprick Japan “expert” who just gets on Wesley Snipes’ nerves all day.

  31. Connery is ok in my book. I actually miss his presence in movies. I don’t know how much of that presence is informed by the supposed jerkbag he is off camera but it was a strong one. I still watch OUTLAND, ROBIN & MARIAN and that crazy muthafucka ZARDOZ regularly. At least compared to works by his contemporaries. Plus say what you will but I think we can all agree that THE ROCK is Michael Bay’s true masterpiece and a big part of that is due to Connery’s work in it.

  32. His little cameo at the end of PRINCE OF THIEVES always makes me smile too, since it seems like a rare time when he’s having fun onscreen. Should I like that movie? I’m honestly not sure. But I do.

  33. Broddie: Yeah, Naked Gun 2 definitely holds up. I’m surprised to see it slammed, especially in an appreciation of Highlander 2. Maybe Vern is just subtracting a lot of points for it starring OJ Simpson??

  34. I remember Vern dropping hints from time to time that he might not be a fan of the ZAZ style of humor, but maybe he was just talking about their later, subpar movies in the vein of the SCARY MOVIE sequels and shit.

    Fun fact: While watching NAKED GUN 1 when I was 13 or 14, I laughed so hard that I cried for the first time ever. Before that, I thought it was just an expression, because it never happened to me and I couldn’t wrap my head about the concept of it, but for some reason the baseball bloopers did it for me.

  35. Yes, NAKED GUN 2 1/2 is amazing

  36. I didn’t mean it as a slam. I just didn’t think it was particularly well-regarded anymore, but I guess I was wrong about that.

  37. Kurgan: I don’t particularly like Bond or Bond movies in general. I agree that FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is his best one but I have never been particularly enamored of his performance. He’s great in the roles he’s great in, but otherwise his self-impressed “coolest guy in the world” schtick (feels smug and unearned to me a lot of the time. He often feels like he thinks he’s doing you a favor just by showing up.

  38. Connery’s at his best when he has a director who can make him play less than the likeable man’s man he clearly sees himself as. John Huston had the world discover that Connery was not a god in THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, Hitchcock made him very creepy in MARNIE, as did Sidney Lumet in THE OFFENCE. I think that’s why he plays so well in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, we see him as the calculating killer Bond actually is.

    I’d probably want to make a case for THE NAME OF THE ROSE as part of that late-career run Mr. M alludes to, but the irrascible charmer schtick is clearly there.

    But who here doesn’t like OUTLAND? Hell, I probably prefer it to HIGH NOON.

  39. CJ I’m not one of those laugh out loud types even when I find something funny. However there is one scene that absolutely slays me and makes me cry everytime going back to the 80s. Drebin’s one main raid at the villain’s office. Especially once the fire starts. Nielsen’s expressions and slapstick prowess are an absolute marvel to watch. More so impressive since slapstick bits were never really thing outside of the stooges. That movie is damn near the perfect storm of comedy overall. Definitely in my comedy all time top 10.

  40. *really my thing

  41. Hitchcock’s MARINE and Norman’s ZARDOZ are both great!

  42. Boorman’s…damn autocorrect

  43. Yeah, OUTLAND is Connery at his best! And he’s good in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.

  44. CJ, when the dude jumps to catch the ball and decapitates himself made me cry from laughing.

  45. This might have been my breaking point too. Hard to remember at which point the tears came after all these years.

  46. Tigger, doesn’t he take advantage of Tippi Hedren in MARNIE?

  47. david j. moore

    May 24th, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    I recall Highlander: The Gathering (the pilot episode of the series with Christoph Lambert in an extended cameo) was issued as a VHS tape once upon a time as a stand-alone feature. I think they tacked on another episode to it to pad the time, but that is legit cannon Highlander material. Whenever I marathon these movies, I always squeeze that episode in. It’s the perfect lead-in to Endgame.

  48. Props for the marketing acumen. Linking the release of a long-awaited series retrospective with the release of a new t-shirt design and a Patreon-only side article is very clever. Even more clever with the added context of last week’s themed reviews that both tied into a highly-anticipated new release *and* ended with a teaser for this series.

    I’m 100% down with supporting your endeavors financially and appreciate the light meta-narrative of the interlocking build up. I donno if you designed this yourself or had help, but it’s unique and adds to the experience for me. I definitely would have signed up for your Patreon today except… uh… I randomly signed up last week instead. But still! Might buy the new t-shirt with some of my entertainment budget next month.

  49. Felix: I don’t remember if Connery takes advantage of Tippi in Marnie. All I remember is it is very good. But it’s been awhile.

    I took a class on Hitchcock in college and Marnie was covered. The teacher was very much a lesbian…but really, really liked Sean Connery because he “oozed manliness.”

    Same teacher also taught a general film history class where THE SEARCHERS was covered. She went on and on how much she loved John Wayne. His walk, his voice, etc. She said his manhood transcended film itself, in a way many have tried since but no one has equaled.

  50. Hitchcock is on record for being very disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to film how Sean Connery actually rapes Tippi Hedren in MARNIE, although that’s what happens in the novel, because everybody who had something to say feared it would actually make his character irredeemable. So there is this.

  51. CJ: Yup! And I remember that class going pretty deep into symbolism, etc. used to imply it.

  52. Dreadguacamole

    May 25th, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    A lot of this film was filmed in Buenos Aires while I was living there.
    They made a huge fuss about it at the time (the first Highlander was huge in Argentina), and teenage me dragged a friend to an open call for casting extras. This being Argentina, of course I was charged a ridiculous amount of money by whichever local company was supplying the actors to undergo a “screen test” which consisted of being filmed for all of a couple of minutes – no other questions asked, just filling out a form with our phone on it in case they wanted to contact us.
    And that’s my Highlander story. I was so bummed out by the end product I passed on the Renegade version, should check it out one of these days.

  53. I loved the NAKED GUN films as a kid, like so young I probably never saw any of the movies it spoofed. My mind was blown later on seeing DIRTY HARRY for the first time and watching the scene where he talks about shooting a naked pervert holding a knife and connecting it with this

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFEK0Sbq4o8

    I’ve not seen the original, let alone the sequels in a very long time and this is making me curious to see them again.

    I think Connery is great, not really having bothered with his Bond movies. I love a lot of the movies mentioned here already, but I must be one of the few that actually has great regard for FINDING FORRESTER.

  54. “…but I must be one of the few that actually has great regard for FINDING FORRESTER.”

    Well then… you must be the man now… dawg…

    I… I’m so sorry…

  55. Darn you Dashlane!! Can my real name be removed? This way those close to me can be protected and not used against me by my enemies!

  56. A shame there’s no proper widescreen release of the theatrical cut. Zeist only exists in a pan and scan vhs. What I’m saying is RELEASE THE ZEIST CUT!

  57. This has absolutely nothing to do with HIGHLANDER, but the band is called THE IMMORTALS, the song’s space vibe is kinda…fitting…planet Zeist…I guess…or whatever and I just discovered this song a few hours ago, can’t stop listening to it and keep sharing it wherever I go, because I think we all need more musical awesomness in our lifes.

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