No matter which version of Highlander II you choose to watch (and why would you choose either?) the film is a mess. It screws the previous film either way you look at it, either by making the immortals a race of alien exiles, or just an ancient forgotten, technically advanced race in the prehistory of the world.
Sure, director Russell Mulcahy returned, as did Christopher Lambert, who argued for the return of Sean Connery, and there are the additions of the stunning Virginia Madsen, and the scene-chewing of Michael Ironside, but the mythology created for the original film isn’t so much expanded on as it is totally torn apart and reworked to incorporate a silly new story.
With a production design heavily influenced by Blade Runner and 1989’s Batman, the film set in the far flung year of 2024, looks like retro future noir, as the world struggles to survive under a protective screen that prevents the ultraviolet light of the sun getting through all the damage we’ve done to the atmosphere.
But now the corporation that runs it, conveniently called The Shield Corporation, is running the entire planet, and some rebels, led by Madsen’s Louise, have been dubbed eco-terrorists for their attempts to take it down.
Connor, who since the events of the first film, has gone back to his lonely brooding existence is revitalized as he recalls memories from the before-time, and the evil Katana (Ironside) who is tired of waiting for Connor MacLeod (Lambet) to choose to die, sends people forward to take care of it for him.
This, obviously, causes The Game to start up again, as MacLeod suddenly has his immortality returned to him, and he summons his old (beheaded) friend Ramirez (Connery) to join him. From there they pair up with Louise to take down the shield, and TSC, which, obviously has sided with Katana who comes forward to deal with MacLeod himself.
While it’s hard to deny the sense of fun, and chemistry that Lambert and Connery have, the script is horrible, the dialogue foul, and its only in small scenes, that were excised from the theatrical cut, that makes it feel like it has any connection with the previous film.
Though One Vision by Queen, and an instrumental version of Who Wants to Life Forever make an appearance, the film lacks the oomph of the first film, though The Police’s Stewart Copeland works with the movie he is given.
An abysmal sequel to a film that really didn’t need one, the next sequel completely retcons it, and denies it every took place, and I’m sure those of us who saw it originally, shoddy swordfights and all, wish we could retcon it as well. Sometimes, it’s better to leave a film at one entry, and move on, sometimes its a kinda magic that can’t be recreated.
There can be only one! (That doesn’t mean I’m not going to check out one more sequel though).