director Russell Mulcahy
Ranked among worst films of all time, Highlander II: The Quickening has been long calling me for a re-watch. I saw it circa the time it first hit video and recalled it being bad, but epic-bad?
More aptly it might rank as one of the weirdest sequels of all time, taking such liberty with its original concept. Because Highlander II is downright Baroque in its expanding Highlander universe, something that apparently sent its fan culture into paroxysms, and general audiences wondering what the fuck was going on.
One parallel between the films is the opening sequence in a major public arena, packed with people, watching a dramatic event. In the first film, it’s a wrestling match at Madison Square Garden, and here, it’s an opera house, viewing Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. And maybe here is the clue: wrestling suggested mano-y-mano fighting, and Wagner’s opera suggests heightened epic.
Of course, this heightened epic is a kitchen sink of ideas and story tropes, including this shield that protects the Earth from the depleted ozone layer, the immortals are aliens from another dimension? and time?
Interestingly, Highlander II is rather trailblazing in 90’s design and aesthetics. In many ways, the film’s design looks like much science fiction/superhero films that would follow it.
It’s a red hot mess for sure. It takes Highlander‘s innate silliness to operatic levels. But it’s still pretty fun.
It’s funny to me that despite this film, the franchise begat two more films with Christopher Lambert, cartoon shows, the TV show, and an eventual canon well beyond me. This was as far as I ever got with the franchise. I’ll probably keep it that way.