N.B. This page assumes a familiarity with the original Highlander film.
"It's time for a new kind of magic."
Directed by Russell Mulcahy.
Starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Virginia Madsen and Michael Ironside
BMM Keywords: So bad it hurts, Incomprehensible, Senseless waste of potential, Gratuitous sex.
The immortals from the first film turn out to be aliens exiled by the evil dictator, General Katana (Ironside), forced to fight for the right to either return to their home planet of Zeist or to become mortal and live out their days on Earth, as Connor McLeod (Lambert) has done. In the future, an aging Connor recovers his powers and his youth when Katana - for no apparent reason - sends two giggling incompetents to kill him. He then teams up with a resurrected Ramirez (Connery), and an ecoterrorist (Madsen) to bring down the ozone shield he helped to create and save the world.
The 'Renegade' Director's Cut apparently makes more sense, but may be just a myth. I certainly know no one who has seen it.
This film is bad on so many levels. For starters, it bears little or no relation to the first film, in which the immortals were weird and mystical, with an unknown source. The degree to which the 'sequel' is not trying is indicated by the fact that the aliens were supposedly exiled over a thousand years after Ramirez was supposed to have been born in Egypt. The playing is lacklustre - even Sean Connery and Michael Ironside seem to be phoning it in; the plot is incomprehensible in parts, and drivel in others. Even the sword fighting is minimal, to say the least, with only really two scenes which can even approximate to decent duels. Yeah, and the continuity is poor.
Truly appalling. As a sequel it doesn't work, and it lacks the justification of being a watchable movie in its own right.
Production values - Poor. The lighting is not just muted, in places it's hardly there at all. The fight scenes are clunky and awkward, and the SFX is pretty rubbish (a few cheap-looking Quickening rushes and an ozone shield that looks like a Los Angeles sunrise). 14
Dialogue and performances - The dialogue is unbelievably bad, even by action-adventure standards, with the standout piece being the explanation of how the whole Zeist-Earth/Mortal-Immortal gig works between Connor and the ecoterrorist chick, which plays like a badly gaffed version of Who's On First? 17
Plot - There is no plot; only Zool. Slay evil; destroy bad machine. Fire bad; tree pretty. 16
Randomness - For starters, there's the issue of why it's called Highlander II, the alien timewarp and so forth. The question of why Katana bothers to go after him is another issue. Also, how come none of the stuff they do in this one comes up in the first? It's pretty out there, and that's where it needs to stay. 18
Waste of Potential - Maybe Highlander wasn't Citizen Kane, but this isn't even Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel. 18
"This time it's for eternity."
Directed by Andrew Morahan.
Starring Christopher Lambert and Mario van Peebles
BMM Keywords: Dull, Gratuitous sex.
After four centuries trapped in a cave, the evil immortal Kane
('Super' Mario van Peebles) - who apparently makes the Kurgan look like a pussycat - is
freed by development construction. Will they never learn?
This awakening reactivates Connor's full powers, although we learn that he survived a fatal car wreck in the highlands which dispatched the love interest of the original film, and he and Kane kill one of the latter's hapless hench-immortals apiece, before convening for the ultimate showdown, in which Connor wins the prize again. In addition to his mastery of the sword, Kane also possesses the power of illusion, stolen from Connor's second mentor, the sorcerer Nakano, along with his head and his Quickening.
Along the way, there's also a romantic plotline with an archaeologist who uncannily resembles Connor's French Revolution love, and Kane kidnaps Connor's adopted son to use as live bait. At one point they fight on holy ground, and Connor's sword explodes.
The Sorcerer is essentially a rehash of the original with some extra special effects, only this time it isn't novel and different. It's woefully short on swordfights, and 'Super' Mario just lacks the camp malevolence of Clancy 'Kurgan' Brown. Its attempts to rationalise the events of the original are - if less crazed than II's - still fairly stretched. Far more of the film is set in daylight, and the colouration is better than in the original, which actually ends up detracting from the overall atmosphere.
There's some nifty SFX, and the love interest is of a slightly higher calibre than in the original (largely because there's a small child to do the screaming incompetence).
Unlike II, this film is at least watchable. That said, it's still pretty abominable.
Even the swordfights are pretty dull in this one. It says a lot about the overall quality of the film that the best moment is probably 'Super' Mario proving that Kane is out of touch by trying to eat a condom. And no, it's not one of those things you had to be there for; that's really all there is to it.
Production values - Pretty good; in fact, almost too good. The whole thing is so well-shot it actually loses the gritty atmosphere of the original because of it. 6
Dialogue and performances - So-so. The dialogue is fairly uninspired, the acting is vaguely competent. Nothing outstandingly bad, but nothing more than workmanlike really. 10
Plot - At best, the plot is patchy. In places, the film feels more like a series of vignettes than a coherent narrative, and the flashbacks to the French Revolution - indeed the entire romantic subplot - feels tacked on, and rather pointless. 14
Randomness - While it has nothing on II, much in The Sorcerer goes unexplained. The exploding sword, Kane's hibernation, the henchlings, the reincarnated lover. 10
Waste of Potential - Less shameless than the second film, as this does not abuse the mighty Sean, but even for a Super Mario van Peebles/Christopher Lambert film, this is pretty slack. 12
"It will take two immortals to defeat the ultimate evil. But in the end, there can be only one."
Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski.
Starring Christopher Lambert, Adrian Paul and Bruce Payne (which readers may come to think of as all you need to know).
BMM Keywords: So bad it hurts, Incomprehensible, Dull, Gratuitous sex, Bruce Payne.
Connor's adopted daughter gets blown up, so he goes into seclusion and is kept sedated on holy ground, only the whole place gets shot up and the bomber kills a bunch of other immortals on said holy ground. Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) gets threatened by some guys, then Connor shows up. Flashbacks show us that Connor is being stalked by a now-immortal ex-priest named Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne, the man who understudied for the absent Julian Sands in Warlock III for crying out loud), whom he killed when they burned his mother as a witch, and that the guy's hench-chick is Duncan's ex-wife, whom he stabbed to make her immortal without asking her first. Connor forces Duncan to kill him so that he can gain the strength to fight Kell, who has killed 666 immortals, including his henchlings.
Numerous alternate versions exist, but there is little to suggest that any of them make much more sense than that.
It sucks. Seriously. It's incoherent, the baddies wear these deeply naff outfits and have no sense of theme. Nor is there any explanation as to why they a) work for another immortal in the first place, and b) just sit there and let him kill them. It feels half-formed, and none of the violations of the immortal traditions and rules are addressed in any way.
There are a couple of decent swordfights. Oh, and it completely disowns II by stating outright that none of the immortals have ever known where they come from or why they're immortal.
Terrible, although not quite so bad as the Quickening.
The fight between MacLeod and a Chinese hench immortal is nicely choreographed, but alas cut short.
Production values - As with The Sorcerer, Endgame picks up a few undeserved points for its general production values. It's slickly made and competently directed, with some nicely shot and choreographed action. However, it loses serious points on the editing, whatever cut you watch. 12
Dialogue and performances - Workmanlike. Lambert plods rather morosely through the picture, but Paul is a watchable lead, and shite though he is, Bruce Payne chewing scenery is always reasonable value for your bargain buck. Highlander the Series stalwarts Jim Byrnes and Peter Wingard make a good showing in rather limited cameos, but the love interest is lacklustre. The dialogue is likewise unexceptional, but falls short of risible. 11
Plot - The plot is all over the place, and suffers greatly from its attempt to combine nemeses from the two MacLeods' histories without sufficient rationale or chemistry. 14
Randomness - Oy! Randomness we got! The film feels overfull in places, with the upshot that many, many elements are simply not explained. Ever. 17
Waste of Potential - Unlike the follow-up films, the TV series actually got to be worth watching. That just makes this abomination even worse by comparison. A chance to save the franchise, pissed down the toilet. 20