The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

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--Matt

Friday, November 13, 2009

Highlander 2: The Quickening aka Highlander 2: Renegade Version (1991)

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In this edition of the box office bomb, we're going with one that was more of a critical bomb than a financial one, though it didn't make back its budget at the gate. It's also a fascinating case, because I'm not reviewing just the original, but the new "renegade" edition, which is supposed to have cured the ills of its predecessor.

Highlander 2 takes place a lot of years after the first one, and Connor is an old dude. The ozone layer had become depleted to such a degree that MacLeod has created a shield to protect us from the UV rays. We also find out that immortals are people from the distant past who are sent to the future for their crimes and forced to fight it out. Connor was sent because he staged a rebellion against Michael Ironside, and on some technicality, Connor could come back to the past and kill him, so Ironside comes to the future. Then Connor calls Connery's name, and he comes back to life. Now they're converging on the shield to take it down, and Ironside and the shield's CEO, John C. McGinley, are there to oppose them.

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Let's be frank, the only way to redeem the previous film would be to Lucas Reno Raines and Bobby Sixkiller into it and make it a real Renegade version. I know a lot of Highlander fanboys and girls out there would think Lamas has no chance against Connor MacLeod, but I beg to differ. He doesn't have to kill him, just incapacitate him and take him to jail for the money. Does this all sound ridiculous, a Highlander movie that's essentially a long Renegade episode? Well, let's delve into the actual film and see what we think.

The original Highlander 2 told us the immortals came from a planet called Zeist. That was ridiculous, yes? That means the new version must be somehow less ridiculous, otherwise why make the film, right? So instead of being from a distant planet, they're from a past that's really more like a future, where humans have great bomb making technology, but no guns. This is my improvement? Sean Connery has no concept of modern technology, but Michael Ironside, also from the distant past, is fully familiar with how the subway system works, down to its specific lingo. To be quite frank, the original actually worked better.

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The biggest issue was the first Highlander painted the series into a box with its finality. They had to get crazy with it to include Connery, and it only got worse from there. I really felt, as I was watching this, that there was no way they were serious. Think of the scene where Connery, Lambert, and Virginia Madsen are in that room where the fan is coming down on them. When Connery tells them to leave, and then the bagpipes start in-- how can that be serious? So I watched that part with the commentary, hoping Russell Mulcahy would tell us how silly it was, and all I got were crickets. Nothing. They not only made that scene on purpose, they were serious about it!

I just love the idea that had Mulcahy had his way, this is what he would've done, considering he didn't want to have his name associated with the original. Why would he have his name associated with this either? The truth is, the TV series had some two-part story arcs that were much more entertaining. I agree that everyone had every right to trash the original version of this movie, but if you're the director and trashing it, that means you need to have something better that you would've done, and you definitely didn't.

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This wasn't all bad, of course. There was plenty to make fun of from start to finish, just because of the basic premise. Then, there were the amazing hairdos. Michael Ironsides sports such an amazing set of lettuce that it makes every misstep Mulcahy made worth it. Not only that, but his scenes with McGinley were nothing short of cinematic gold. And you can never discount what it means to have Connery in another bad film. Just because this was a bad movie, doesn't mean it's not a fun one too.

And here we are, paragraph 8, and I forgot to mention the film's one DTVC Hall of Famer, Christoher Lambert. What is there to say, really? He was as funny as everyone else trying to make sense of this thing. And that's what makes it great for us the viewer too: the fun we have trying and failing to make sense of it all. I'll never forget the review Siskel and Ebert did when this was in the theater, because it was the first time they killed a movie that I really agreed with them on. At 12, I was becoming better aware of what was around me, and as such, less willing to accept as good something that was in actuality utter crap.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102034/

4 comments:

  1. Im a huge fan of the first Highlander film, huge fan! The premise, and the whole idea had such possibilities! Yet, they let it all die out into a drivel of films...my god, I have never seen a series simply sink into oblivion as fast as this one.

    The thing about these movies is, people like the concept of the immortals, so thats why they keep renting these films, problem is they always get dissapointed after they pay. Once you actually get to watch the films...

    As for this second one, this renegade version...I honestly enjoyed the original version better then this one. This one made an even bigger mess out of things if you ask me.

    Its so ridiculous, that scene with the fan, why the fuck did Connery have to die there? After all he went through? And why do Highlanders have powers to stop giant fans? Where did they dig that crap out of?

    And why does Ramirez keep dying and coming back? I thought it you chopped a Highlanders head off that was it for them, why are they so afraid of dying if all they have to do is call each others names to come back to life?

    Michael Ironsides character was the goofiest thing about this movie, as you said, his dialog, how did he know so much about the modern world? How did he know exactly how to drive a modern train??

    Why exactly cant highlanders fight while inside of a Christian Church? Are they all christians or something? Do they all respect the christian God? What the fuck?

    This series is badly in need of a reboot!

    STill, I love those scenes on Highlander 2 when he fights those flying creatures, and when he kills them and gets all their powers! Love that stuff! They just need to work a cohesive storyline around that!

    I feel a reboot coming...

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  2. One thing I said in the review that I was kind of serious about was that there were better story arcs in the TV series. The Kalas and Methos one for example was great. I think the hard part is the basic one-on-one fastest gunslinger in the West nature of it. The series allowed them to do some more things, once they got out of that mold. Of course, they ran out of ideas too. Season 6 with the red smoke is one example, and the last film, The Source, which I felt was even worse than this.

    The Holy Ground thing actually applies to all religions. Remember in the third movie, when they're on a Buddhist holy ground, but they don't know until they fight, and then the walls explode around them, showing the holy stuff.

    I agree that the series is due for an overhaul. When part 2 came out, the TV show wasn't far behind, and when it went away from the movies, that's when it's best work happened.

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  3. I havent seen the third since 1994! When I saw it in theaters, but Ive been wanting to re-watch it cause I remember it being one of the last barely watchable ones in the series.

    From part four onward...they went to the point of no return.

    The Source was freaking awful!

    Ive never seen the show, so I dont know how good or bad it is, I do know it has a following.

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  4. The show really hit its stride around the middle of season 3 when they introduced Methos. The two part finale to that season was better than any of the movies except for the first, and maybe Endgame.

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