- Awesome Music: While not on the same levels as Queen's "Princes of the Universe", Lou Gramm's "One Dream" is still a pretty good song for the end credits. Some even consider it to be one of the better things to come out of this movie.
- Author's Saving Throw: The Renegade Cut and later Special Edition, which re-edited the film to be closer to how the director wanted it before Executive Meddling kicked in. They completely undo the "aliens from Zeist" backstory, split the final duel with Katana into two parts, and include various other changes. While it still isn't very good, it's universally agreed that it's far superior to the original cut.
- Complete Monster: On an Earth gone to seed, these miscreants who eventually ally are two of the worst villains in this branch of the canon:
- General Katana is a ruthless tyrant responsible for those rebelling against him being banished as Immortals to kill each other in the first film. Incensed by Connor MacLeod winning the Prize and going on to live peacefully, Katana ventures to hunt down and kill his adversary, murdering hundreds of subway passengers for his own sick amusement. Allying himself with Shield Corporation CEO David Blake, who is holding the Earth under a dome falsely claimed to save the planet from the damaged ozone, Katana uses his collaborator's resources to hunt for Connor before killing him and facing Connor, while trying to stop him from deactivating the shield.
- David Blake is the wheedling, corrupt head of the Shield Corporation who cares only for profit. Despite knowing of the Shield's danger and the safety of switching it off, Blake keeps it up, knowing countless people will sicken and die as a result so he can continue to enrich himself through his monopoly. For those who defy his rule, Blake is eager to send them to a horrific prison where they face mistreatment, torture, and painful death, later allying with General Katana before trying to kill the heroes by crushing them with a giant fan.
- Fan-Disliked Explanation: One of the biggest complaints about the film was that it established a mythology that the immortals are aliens from a planet known as Zeist, which only serves to raise more questions. The re-edits establish them as wizards from Earth's distant past. Either way, the film is no longer considered canon with the rest of the series.
- Ham and Cheese:
- Sean Connery realized how much the film was sinking into Sequelitis, and made his performance one big raised middle finger to the producers who brought his character Back from the Dead so he could appear in the sequel.
- Michael Ironside's portrayal of Big Bad General Katana. Say what you will about the film, but goddamn, Michael Ironside was just so awesome as the over the top evil Katana, you can tell that even with what he had to work with, he was having a ball. This statement from him is also quite possibly the most explicit admission of engaging in this trope in cinema history:Michael Ironside: Yeah, listen, I hated that script. We all did. Me, Sean, Chris... we all were in it for the money on this one. I mean, it (the script) read as if it had been written by a thirteen year old boy. But I'd never played a barbarian swordsman before, and this was my first big evil mastermind type. I figured if I was going to do this stupid movie, I might as well have fun and go as far over the top as I possibly could. All that eye-rolling and foaming at the mouth was me deciding that if I was going to be in a piece of shit like that movie, I was going to be the most memorable fucking thing in it. And I think I succeeded.
- John C. McGinley (who, by his own admittance, was channeling Orson Welles) as The Dragon.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- The John C. McGinley character gets his testicles crushed by Michael Ironside near the climax. Cue the Dr. Cox jokes!
- In Ramirez's final scene, Connor asks if they'll ever meet again, to which Ramirez winks and says "Who knows, Highlander?" — while Ramirez (and by extension, Sean Connery) would never appear in another live-action Highlander movie, the character did pop up again on Highlander: The Animated Series.
- Idiot Plot: The entire movie only happens because Katana is an idiot. Connor had resigned himself to a mortal life on Earth, was old and dying, and had no intent (or ability) to return to Zeist. Then Katana sent his goons to attack Connor, he decapitates them, absorbs their power, and his immortality and youth are restored. The movie even lampshades this twice! One of the two goons Katana sends questions why he's doing this before they go, and Katana just smacks him and repeats his order. When Katana meets Connor and Connor spells it out for him, Katana just goes silent with an Oh, Crap! face as he now realizes how stupid he was.
- Memetic Mutation: Appending "The Quickening" or some variant of it onto parody sequel titles, typically in the format X 2: The X-ening.
- Mis-blamed: In a 2004 DVD documentary, producers Peter Davis and William Panzer took some credit for revealing that the Immortals came from another planet, contrary to allegations that this element was forced upon the creators by the completion bond company when they took over production.
- Narm: When it comes to unintentional comedy in this movie, there can't be only one:
- The voice Christopher Lambert uses for an aging Connor resembles a little kid imitating their grandpa.
- Katana's two cackling mooks are dispatched in the goofiest ways possible: the first is accidentally decapitated by a rolling trolley wheel while the second is beheaded by Connor using a makeshift Razor Floss (actually a somewhat thick conduit wire) and then flies straight into an electrical panel, like a moth going into a bug zapper.
- "Ya gotta light?" *ZAP!* "EEEHAHAHA!!"
- Katana himself getting run over by Connor's transport. He shakes it off quickly enough, but the seeming anti-climax of it is bound to inspire a laugh or two.
- John C. McGinley getting his nuts squashed, complete with the expected reaction, and then transforming into a floppy-limbed dummy right as Katana throws him out a plate-glass window.
- Never Live It Down: The one thing everyone knows and remembers this movie for is the retcon that the immortals are actually aliens from the planet Zeist.
- Nightmare Fuel: Brenda's death from the increase in solar radiation is pretty horrific, then the camera pulls back to reveal she's just one of thousands.
- Retroactive Recognition:
- Sequelitis: Held as one of the worst sequels of all time.
- So Bad, It's Good: The film is just mind-numbingly awful, and really must be seen to be appreciated for exactly how horrible it is. And there are still some gems to be found, mostly Michael Ironside's incredibly hammy General Katana and Connor and Ramirez bickering about how many bullets they both took.
- Sophomore Slump: Highlander III: The Sorcerer and Highlander: Endgame aren't exactly well regarded either, they still got a better reaction than this film did. That said, many would argue that Highlander: The Source is the bottom of the barrel for the series as a whole.
- Special Effect Failure:
- In the original versions, thanks to the bonding company seizing control and finishing the movie cheaply as possible, the Shield is red and the foreground does not blend in with the sky. This was corrected in recent versions, where the Shield is deep blue, matching the DP's blue lighting.
- The explosions in the original cut are okay, but for some reason they were turned into white screen-filling flashes in The Renegade Version.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: A Suspiciously Similar Song to of Queen's "Who Wants To Live Forever?" shows up.
- What an Idiot!: General Katana of Zeist sends his two goons to kill Connor MacLeod on planet Earth. However, Dumbass Has a Point by saying that MacLeod is now mortal and unlikely to return.
You'd Expect: General Katana to agree with him and let MacLeod die of old age.
Instead Katana slaps the guy and sends them to Earth and, of course, they die 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.
YMMV / Highlander II: The Quickening