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Film / Highlander II: The Quickening

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The past is now space. Or the other way around.
It depends on the version you are watching.

"Nicely played, MacLeod, but the game's not over yet."
General Katana

Continuing from Highlander, Connor MacLeod is now mortal... in the future! (2024, to be precise.) Now an old man on the verge of death, memories deep within him surface and remind him of his past in the planet Zeist, where a vengeful enemy, General Katana, plots to destroy him once and for all. One of Katana's plots fails big time, and MacLeod reverts back to his immortal state.

On top of that, the world has become a neofascistic nightmare controlled by the all-powerful Shield Corporation, whose primary asset is a powerful shield MacLeod built 25 years earlier when the ozone layer was depleting. When MacLeod learns of a Government Conspiracy to keep the shield functional despite the ozone layer having repaired itself, he allies with ecoterrorist Louise Marcus to destroy the shield. Katana uses the situation to his advantage and sides with the Shield Corporation and its corrupt cronies.

Also, his long-dead mentor Ramirez is resurrected.

This film has the examples of:

  • Alien Sky: The sky has this reddish cloudy color, thanks to MacLeod's barrier machine.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: While not exactly stated, General Katana has knowledge of The Wizard of Oz, sports drafts, and high school reunions, implying he watches Earth TV.
  • Always Night: Connor built a vast planetary force field to repair the ozone layer; the downside is that the entire planet is now permanently dark. Except for Ramirez's scenes in Scotland where it's perfectly bright and sunny.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: The film has a bagpipe version of "Amazing Grace" during Ramirez's final moments. Considering he IS played by Sean Connery...
  • An Arm and a Leg: Katana gets his hand cut off in a sword fight right before MacLeod chops off his head.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • The shield is somehow designed to require more energy to take down than to operate, as a "safety feature." Simply turning it off doesn't seem to be an option.
    • Completely blocking out the sun just makes the climate really hot and humid... when in actuality it would freeze over the planet- thus eradicating all plant life and ushering in a mass extinction of all life as the world's sustainable food sources all die. The movie seems to be trying to imply that the shield somehow lets through the heat from the sun while blocking out all visible light along with the UV rays — which would also result in a mass-extinction, as plants need that light to carry out photosynthesis and thereby survive.
  • Artistic License – Space: Zeist apparently orbits very close to its sun, enough that it covers a quarter of the planet's sky, yet has an orbital period at least the same as that of Earth, in complete defiance of Kepler's third law. For that matter, how is Zeist still habitable if it's orbiting so close to the star?
  • At the Opera Tonight: Connor attends a performance of Götterdämmerung, during which he has a flashback to his past. Amusingly, he sees the opera in a building simply labeled "Opera"
  • Big Bad: General Katana.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The beheadings are far more graphic this time around, and other examples include Katana's crash of a subway car and the results on its victims, and Connor and Ramirez being shredded by More Dakka.
  • Call on Me: Connor MacLeod calls Ramirez to his side, despite him being dead since the first film.
  • Canon Discontinuity: This sequel is ignored by the following ones. None of the concepts introduced, such as Planet Zeist, are so much as mentioned in any following entries, or even spin-offs.
  • City Noir: This is how the year 2024 looks in the film. "No sun, no stars, only heat and humidity." Scotland, however is unaffected.
  • Counting Bullets: Connor and Ramirez count the number of bullets that the guards shot into their car.
  • Cyberpunk: The film goes for a Cyber Punk motif. Complete with damp, oppressive weather.
  • Descending Ceiling: There's one of these with a rotating blade attachment, it shreds Ramirez.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: After MacLeod regenerates back into his younger self, he visits an old scientist friend of his who notices something different. "Have you had a facelift?"
  • Doing In the Wizard: The film reveals that Immortals are aliens from the planet Zeist. The director's cut has them as time-traveling precursors from the prehistoric past. Both explanations met with Canon Discontinuity due to unpopularity.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The Corrupt Corporate Executive forms an alliance against Connor McLeod with General Katana, the alien warlord Big Bad. He eventually ends up on the bad end of Katana's sword after getting too snarky with him.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: General Katana's two minions are the first to point out the foolishness of the general's plan.
  • Fainting The doctor (Jeff Altman) executes a Girly Man Faint when he sees Connor and Ramirez come back to life.
  • Flipping the Bird: A random bar patron flips Connor off right before bashing him over the head with a bottle.
  • General Failure:
    • Connor is appointed leader of the rebel army with some fanfare... and is promptly defeated in a Curb-Stomp Battle by General Katana's forces, with Connor, Ramirez, and implicitly a few other ringleaders being captured, and most of the other rebels getting slaughtered.
    • Actually downplayed by Katana himself, who does seem to be a competent enough military commander judging by his forces easily routing Connor's, and him seemingly holding control of Zeist unchallenged for 500 years. His eventual downfall ends up being the result of him not making use of his army, instead sending two incompetent mooks, and then just himself to dispatch Connor.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Connor and Louise have more or less just met when a giant fight scene crashes down upon them with multiple beheadings, explosions, and the recovery of his youthful appearance. They immediately celebrate by sex up against the nearest grimy alley wall.
  • Groin Attack: Katana dispatches the sleazy corporate guy he was working with by grabbing and crushing his nuts and sending him falling to his death.
  • Hollywood Fire: Connor MacLeod is hit by a fuel truck that promptly explodes. Even given the fact that he is immortal and heals quickly, he should have been vaporized given the heat created by the fire, But no... he strides out of the fireball completely unharmed, accompanied by dramatic music and a wind that causes his Badass Longcoat to blow behind him.
  • Here We Go Again!: Muttered by an elderly MacLeod after seeing a cut on his hand heal, indicating that someone from Zeist has arrived on Earth.
  • Human Aliens: The immortals from Zeist.
  • Idiot Ball: Katana picks up a massive idiot ball. Connor is old and probably going to die in the next 10 years from natural causes. General Katana, despite waiting for the last 500 years for the exiles to do whatever it was they were doing and finally claim the prize, decides that killing Connor is paramount and sends his mooks to try and kill him. Instead of waiting a few extra years for the guy who is nearing death, has no means of interstellar travel and no interest in returning, to die, he sends his insane and incompetent mooks to try and kill him. They instead get killed, which turns Connor young and immortal again. So the villain then heads to Earth to face off in person, instead of sending less incompetent mooks to kill him. Even the dumb mooks he does send point out how stupid and pointless this plan is:
    General Katana: You leave for the planet Earth immediately. Find MacLeod and kill him.
    Mook: But I thought you said MacLeod was mortal, and can never return.
    General Katana: [Slaps mook] Find him for me. Kill him.
  • It's All About Me: Katana is convinced that Connor is just biding his time before launching his revenge attack, even though he's been mortal for decades and would more likely have returned immediately if he was going to. Even his own minions point this out. When they finally meet face to face and it turns out Connor had long stopped caring about him and is only angry now because he screwed up his retirement, he looks completely baffled.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Stunningly averted; As crazy as it may sound, the use of a Douglas DC-3 propeller plane to transport Ramirez is not misplaced (though it may qualify as Schizo Tech). Not only was the DC-3 in use when the film was made, it is still in use today as a passenger plane over 30 years later, to the point they will almost certainly still be flying in 2024 of the real world.
  • Large Ham: Michael Ironside as Katana glowers, mugs, and makes wisecracks 95% of the time he's on-screen
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Katana manages to make a train go over 700 miles per hour and crash through a wall, killing everyone aboard, he steps out, opening the door and seeming to look at the audience, he says "Last stop" and laughs.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: The film has this exchange that almost seems like a lampshading on just how convoluted the basic premise has become:
    Louise: Okay, now let me just see if I can 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.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: Ramirez uses up his life force to hold up a giant spinning wind turbine.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: General Katana.
  • Never My Fault: Thanks to the butchering of the storyline in the editing room, the scene where the alliance between Katana and Blake breaks down is moved to right after the fan trap scene. The end result of this is that Blake inexplicably blames the failure of his own trap on Katana, who in turn seems to overreact somewhat by immediately killing Blake.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Connor brings Ramirez Back from the Dead simply by screaming his name. He also regains his Immortality (de-aging 40 years in the process) after beheading one of General Katana's mooks. But the kicker would have to be Ramirez rewinding time to allow Connor and Louise to escape Blake's spinning fan Death Trap.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Connor has no way of taking out the shield, until General Katana sends his mooks to try and kill Connor decades after he becomes mortal, because he's worried Connor would return to try and kill him. During the altercation with the mooks, Connor beheads one of them and as a result, regains his immortality, and becomes young again.
  • Nonindicative Name: General Katana doesn't carry a sword even remotely similar to a Katana, nor does he ever show off his army even though he's suppose to be a general.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: John C. McGinley made his David Blake's voice as deep as possible in an effort to sound like Orson Welles. He has since admitted that this was a bad idea
  • Off with His Head!:
    • Connor beheads one mook with a strand of wire. Since it was not a sword, apparently it doesn't count for the purposes of releasing a Quickening (although he did receive a Quickening from the first mook, who also wasn't beheaded with Connor's sword).
    • Gen. Katana is defeated by a beheading.
  • Out of the Inferno: Connor MacLeod gets hit by a fuel truck. Fortunately, he's just regained both his youth and immortality, allowing him to stride out of the resulting fireball unharmed, dramatic music blaring, long coat blowing, sword clenched in his hand, Christopher Lambert doing his best "badass face" (okay, vacant stare, but it is Christopher Lambert).
  • A Planet Named Zok: Planet Zeist - which is a real street name in Germany, as well as the name of a town in the Netherlands.
  • Plot Hole: At one point, the radio mentions that the Shield Corporation is charging customers ridiculous rates. While it's meant to show what greedy assholes they are, a moment's thought should make one realize the whole thing makes no sense, as how would they make the shield not affect people who refuse to pay? Other than just turning the whole shield off, which would kill them as well.
  • Razor Floss: Connor beheads General Katana's second mook with a cable.
  • Re-Cut: When the film ran over time and budget, the suits just couldn't wait to screw this pooch. The main difference between the Theatrical Cut and the Renegade Cut is that the immortals are NOT from freakin' space, but from the ancient past and predate humanity. The planet Zeist plotline was so clumsily added that it created one massive logic hole concerning MacLeod's reactivation of his immortal nature. This was handled in the Theatrical Cut with what had to be the worst explanation scene ever. Both have since been released on DVD.
    • The British theatrical version is 10 minutes longer and includes a good chunk of footage used in the subsequent Renegade cut while retaining references to Zeist. The film at least makes more sense here than in the original version.
  • Remember the New Guy?: General Katana, and for that matter Zeist as a whole, is just sort of dropped into MacLeod's backstory. The explanation given is that MacLeod had selective amnesia and watching an opera suddenly brought all the memories back. This did little to alleviate the Voodoo Shark, since it's shown that Ramirez did NOT have this amnesia and remembers Zeist and Katana normally, but never thought to bring it up before now.
  • Revised Ending: A once lost alternate ending, commonly known as "The Fairytale Ending", was shown only in some European theaters and has never been shown in any of the American cuts. The ending shows Connor magically returning to planet Zeist, taking Louise along with him, while Ramírez’ voice is heard in the background. An early version of this ending is shown on the Special Edition. However, it also includes footage of Louise Marcus speaking to Connor. She is on location while he is suspended by wires in front of a blue screen. After a brief exchange where Connor asks Louise to come with him, the theatrical ending is shown where the two embrace in front of a field of stars, then transform into light streaks and fly off into space.
  • San Dimas Time: The edited version replaced "The Planet Zeist" with "The Distant Past" and walked right into this trope.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: At one point Connor and Louise have to Climb up a freaking ladder to reach the Ozone Layer. As the Ozone layer is about 9-25 miles up (i.e., higher than the top of Mount Everest at the shortest), how they could climb for that long without getting muscle fatigue and falling to their doom is a mystery. The whole idea of a ladder that big not collapsing (even if it's attached to a wall) is hard to swallow as well.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Or an acceptable money substitute, anyway. Ramirez gets a new suit of clothes very quickly after showing the owner of the tailor's that he is in a (now antique) gold pearl earring - cue Time Passes Montage of Ramirez being measured and fitted with his new clothing
  • Shaped Like Itself: MacLeod goes to see the Opera in a building marked Opera.
  • Space Is Magic: In an inversion, aliens coming to Earth gain immortality (though they seem hugely long-lived already) for as long as there's more than one of them.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't mess with the ozone layer or a space alien will create an anti-ozone shield that may prevent us from burning into a crisp but will consequentially lead to a Blade Runner-esque Crapsack World.
  • The Titling: Used for the subtitle.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Really, General Katana should be a prime example of what not to do as the Big Bad. It makes you wonder how he managed to live as long as he did or conquer the planet Zeist in the first place, with his hands-on approach to dispatching his enemies.
  • Unflinching Walk: An example of this would be Connor MacLeod's regeneration, which is followed by him walking out of an explosion.
  • Villain Ball: General Katana of Zeist sends his two goons to kill Connor MacLeod on planet Earth. When one of them points out that MacLeod is now mortal and unlikely to return, Katana slaps the guy and sends them to Earth and, of course, they die, thus making MacLeod immortal again, thus remaking the Gathering, thus obliging Katana to go himself and, of course getting himself killed. MacLeod spells this out to him when they meet, but he continues his course instead of just going home.
  • Voodoo Shark: This installment decided that the Immortals were actually a race of alien political exiles, which begs the question: when Connor asked Ramirez why certain people are immortal, what was all that "why does the sun rise in the east" crap? And this even goes back to the holy ground thing. Why would aliens care about human religions? Or better yet, why would you give political exiles the chance to obtain the "Prize," i.e., the chance to become a GOD? The alien explanation was quickly retconned.
    • The Renegade Version adds time travel to the mix, creating a Voodoo Shark within a Voodoo Shark by bringing up the simple question of "how in the hell does that work?"
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Used by Connor and Ramirez to sneak into the shield facility. When they wake up, they snarkily compare how many bullets they took getting "killed"note .
  • Waxing Lyrical: In the "Fairytale Ending", Connor tells Louise, "It's a kind of magic". Remember who did the soundtrack for the first film.