5. Highlander II, The Quickening

HTML Editors Note: This movie sucks, and violates everything Highlander. No real Highlander fan would ever admit it exists. If asked about this movie the proper response is "What second movie?".

5.1. Summary (American Release)

This was a rather disjointed movie that taken by itself was an OK action/adventure film, but, taken as a sequel of the original movie, was a major disappointment to a lot of HIGHLANDER fans. Though some people do like this movie IF it isn't viewed as being part of the Highlander Universe.

We are told that Immortals are actually political exiles sent to Earth from another planet, Zeist, 500 years ago and we are introduced to a rather convoluted redefinition of the Rules of Immortality to fit this scenario. We learn that Connor MacLeod, after winning the Prize, lead the effort to erect a planet-covering Shield to protect the Earth from the Sun's radiation since we've almost totally destroyed the Ozone layer by pollution. And that during their relationship on Zeist Connor and Ramirez had become linked by the magic of the Quickening, enabling Ramirez to come whenever Connor calls.

Twenty-five years pass before we encounter Macleod again, now an old man, rambling along, living out his remaining years, at ease with the fruits of his past glory as a world renown scientist. The Earth now has a universal climate of moderately hot and humid due to the hothouse effect caused by years under the Shield. The corporation that maintains the Shield has grown into an all-powerful tyrant that resists any threat to its continued existence, even though some have started to suspect that the Ozone layer has now repaired itself and the Shield Corporation prefers to continue it's monopoly as the world's energy provider and savior. A terrorist organization called Cobalt, headed up by Louise Marcus, is currently conducting raids on the Shield installations trying to obtain concrete evidence of the Ozone layer's condition.

After Louise acquires the evidence, she seeks out the elderly Macleod, in hope that he can do something about taking down the Shield. Meanwhile back on Zeist, General Katana becomes anxious that, now that Macleod has 'Won' the Prize, that he'll return to his home planet to resume leadership of the rebellion there. So he transports two goons to Earth to kill Macleod once and for all. They attack the elderly Macleod and after a long dramatic, and sometimes airborne, battle, complete with pyrotechnics, Macleod defeats the two goons. During the battle Connor calls out for Ramirez. Just at the end of the battle a semi-tractor trailer hauling a tankload of some sort of highly volatile fuel breaks free and crashes into the victorious Macleod. Especially distinctive is the imagery of the huge pair of lips painted on the end of the trailer as it careens toward him, to give him the 'kiss of death' as it explodes. A rejuvenated Macleod walks out of the flames to greet the dumbfounded Louise Marcus.

Connor's 'call' bounces off the Shield to Glencoe, Scotland and resurrects Ramirez. He suddenly appears on the stage of a production of Hamlet, just as the actor portraying Hamlet starts the soliloquy with the skull of Yoric. Once Ramirez realizes that he is on a stage in the middle of a play he bows and exits gracefully, absconding with the actor's sword. {Curiously he uses this sword, presumably a stage prop, as a real weapon later while dueling with Connor} As he walks backstage to the theater exit, he spies himself in a mirror, flexes his neck, and comments "Rather glad the magic works" as he reassures himself that he is now whole again. After encountering some of the wonders of the twentieth century, Ramirez makes his way to a tailor to get a new suit since his clothes are somewhat worse for wear after his final battle with the Kurgan in a crumbling castle. He is greeted by the proprietor with "We are the oldest gentlemen's tailor in Scotland" to which he replies "Well then, I've come to the right place; since I am, without a doubt, the oldest gentleman in Scotland." This results in one of the funnier sequences in the movie as a whole shop full of tailor hurry about to complete Ramirez' suit in one afternoon for the price of his huge pearl earring (hanging from his _pierced_ ear).

Back on Zeist, General Katana realizes that his henchmen have failed so he transports himself to Earth to take care of things in person.

He proceeds to the Shield Corporation and take over the Board of Directors by a demonstration of his power.

Meanwhile, Ramirez travels to New York and rejoins Connor. Together with Louise they go to MAX, a maximum security prison controlled by the Shield Corp, to rescue Alan Newman, Connor's friend who helped design and build the Shield.

While there, they are trapped in a room with a large deadly fan bearing down on them, ready to slice them to pieces. Ramirez gives his life by using the concentrated 'magic' of his Quickening to hold the fan above their heads for a few moments while Connor and Louise make their escape.

Connor and Louise fight their way to the main Beam room where Connor battles General Katana to the death. Victorious, he steps into the Shield Beam and destroys the Shield, restoring the world to normal sky and a normal Ozone layer.

5.2. The Revised Rules of Immortality

In Connor's house Louise restates the rules that Connor has told her to see if she has them correct:

Louise: "OK. Now let me just see if I cant get this straight. You come from another planet. And you're mortal there. But you're immortal here, until you kill all the guys from there who have come here -- and then you're mortal here. Unless, you go back there -- or some more guys from there come here. In which case you become Immortal here -- again.

Connor: "Something like that."

Louise:[sardonically] "Of course, it would be 'something like that,' wouldn't it."

5.3. Miscellaneous tidbits

Ramirez says that he is 'the chief metallurgist of King Philip of Spain' rather than King Charles V as in the first movie.

Connor drives an off-white Porsche convertible, though it is a different model (Porsche 911) from the one (Porsche 365) used in HIGHLANDER I.

When General Katana first arrives on our planet, he is the first Immortal to exhibit the snapping and popping of re-aligning and healing bones after a 'fatal' fall when he crashes to Earth, or rather through it, into the subway car.

Katana reminds Connor of one of the Rules "Remember the Golden Rule, Highlander. We must never fight on Holy Ground."

In contrast to the first movie, Immortals actually seem to die from 'fatal' wounds, but recover quickly.

After they recover from being shot to pieces entering MAX, Connor proudly counts 108 bullet holes and then is outdone when Ramirez announces that he got a total of 112.

When they proceed to the lower levels of MAX, Ramirez has his sword from the first movie (presumably Connor returned it to its former owner after their duel at his apartment) and Connor carries the sword he acquired from one of the Zeistian goons. Ramirez' sword is with him when Louise and Connor leave him to his death in the giant fan room, standing stuck in the floor. But later as Louise and Connor flee through MAX, Connor sometimes has the Zeistian sword and sometimes has Ramirez' sword (this is due to a re-edit of two battle sequences into one in the American version). During the final battle with Katana, Connor fights with Ramirez' katana.

5.4. Actors Biographies

5.4.1. Christopher Lambert (Connor MacLeod)

See Section 1.20.1

5.4.2. Sean Connery (Ramirez)

See Section 1.20.2

5.4.3. Virginia Madsen (Louise Marcus)

"I play Louise Marcus, an environmental activist along the same lines as someone who would work for Greenpeace," Virginia says of her role in "Highlander II." She is a very strong woman with a very positive female image and she can fight physically and emotionally for what she believes in. That's what I like about this character - she's not just the girl thrown into the story."

She had auditioned for the part of the Highlander's first wife in "Highlander" and was terribly disappointed not to get it. "Now of course I am delighted because I wouldn't have been able to be in this movie! When I met Russell I liked him immediately and the same with Christopher. Even when I did the audition it was so much fun and refreshing compared to the parts I had just done. In 'Hotspot,' I play a real bitch who destroys everyone's lives," she explains.

From a very young age Virginia wanted to be an actress. Her mother is a writer, her brother an actor, and her sister, before having three children, was also an actress. She feels however, that it was her father who gave her the acting bug. "He was a fireman and he's the all-time great storyteller!"

She studied acting in Chicago where her sister had studied before her and became the youngest student (at 17) Ted Liss ever had. "I had wanted to join his class since I was 12. It was well worth the wait because I don't think I could have got that sort of training anywhere else especially in the United States. There are so many people who take a course for 8 weeks and at the end you are supposed to be a trained actress and I think it's terrible. I always wanted to make a real career out of acting. To me it is the same as studying to be a doctor and I gave it that kind of time and that kind of focus. I knew that fame and fortune might come with it but I wanted to work for the rest of my life." Virginia's extensive film and TV credits attest to her hard work. She has been featured in a dozen TV movies, and her film credits include: "Dune," "The Hotspot," "Becoming Collette," and "Candyman."

5.4.4. Michael Ironside (General Katana)

"Katana is the epitome of an obsessive compulsive personality who believes that 'more' will fix it. More power, more authority, more real estate, more money, and the one threat to his so-called dream of running everything is MacLeod, the so-called people's choice," says Michael of his character, General Katana. "I was attracted to the script because you have two classic personas. Someone like Katana who thinks that things on the outside will fix his inside whether it's power or money or prestige, and then you have MacLeod who is saying that no man is an island and that we are all just part of the flow. He represents the every day man with spiritual concepts and Katana is working to screw the every day man. I want it all!"

Michael Ironside tends to always play the baddie, probably due to his ability to make his characters show extreme charm and attractiveness which can change with a look into a menacing, maniacal psychopath: "It's not very often that you get a character that is a heavy or bad guy that is that full!" he says. "When he finally dies there is a slight educational process we are trying to give whereby Chris tries to get over to Katana that everything he has ever touched has gotten worse rather than better, and that his way of doing things does not work and if we can accomplish that it would be great."

"I would never play a villain where someone in the audience could identify with that character and that the bad guy, in this case Katana, is making some progress. I find that scary. This character is - if you live by the sword, you die by the sword."

"When I first met Chris and we started working together, I felt that I had known him for a long time. I had seen his work, and he had seen mine, but that wasn't it. We had this personal connection. Our first scene together was the scene in the graveyard when I am mocking him for talking to his dead wife. When I saw the rushes there was something there that you can't act. They call it chemistry, I think."

For one of the more spectacular sword fights, Michael fights Christopher Lambert with a broadsword. "It weighs 22 pounds and what kills me is that I have to make it look light! Part of me wants the audience to know what a bitch it is, and how heavy it is to swing. I have an ego problem there! I did some fencing when I was younger but this is a whole different thing, and you work with it differently I had a chance to talk to a stuntman on "Total Recall," and he suggested that I exercise the joints of my arms every day before starting the film

"We were able to practice a bit before the movie started, getting the basic moves. We started with five basic positions and learning how to block the other's swing. We did have a few accidents however. On one occasion I moved the wrong way and the edge of Chris' sword hit my front teeth knocking a tiny piece off one of them. I also hurt Chris quite badly when he moved wrongly and the sword came down between his knuckles and it went straight through his two pairs of gloves. The problem with a sword that size is, that when you have committed yourself to a swing, that's it."

There were stuntmen, standing by, but Michael was able to do most of his own work with the help of Frank Orsatti, the stunt coordinator. "We had fun in the board room with the bullet hits and my total destruction of Blake's bodyguard. It is all body language and not as dangerous as it looks but I grab him, smash his head twice on the table, I flip him over, and put both my hands in his mouth ripping his jaw off, then break his neck and watch him slide off the table as I calmly sit down in his chair!" Michael explains smiling. "All in a day's work actually. We took the ripping of the jaw from the original "King Kong" when King Kong fights with a tyrannosaurus rex. There are only so many ways that you can cut an apple, but we looked back to try and remember what had impressed us as children. I'm sure it will make people cringe a bit when they see both my hands go into his mouth and with a nice bone crack laid over on the soundtrack..."

He has also thrown Blake through a glass window, mauled the cabbie and hung him from the roof of his lair by the throat, and given a few people in the tube train a rough ride when he first came to Earth. "He's the sort of character that you don't want to invite to a party because if he has too good a time he is definitely going to hurt someone! A real social misfit."

Since his role in "Highlander II," Michael has gone on to star in such films as "Free Willy," "Fatherhood," "The New Karate Kid," and "Major Payne."