Hall of Fame Speech #17: Highlander II: The Quickening

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. This is the film so bad that we had to buy it on VHS in order to see it in its purest form. Like an uncut diamond, this is Highlander II: The Quickening. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Highlander II: The Quickening

Highlander II: The Quickening was a major milestone for BMT. Not only was it our 200th film (we were mere babes in the woods), but it completed a significant BMT journey. We journeyed from exclusively watching easily accessible films to buying a VHS tape and converting it to digital like a couple of crazy people. That was because Highlander II: The Quickening came with a long legacy in bad movie lore. The film was released to incredible critical derision and as a result the original cut was never released to DVD. Instead, the studios allowed for the film to be recut several times into increasingly palatable versions. But we don’t mess with that shit and we needed to drink straight from the clear mountain spring that is Highlander II: The Quickening. Oh how sweet and so cold. Our bad movie thirst was quenched and like lightning our bad movie power was quickened. But not until now did I appreciate the power that this film really holds when I dove deep into that spring. Let’s get into it.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • Much like many films we watch for major BMT milestones I think I remember having way too lofty expectations for the film. Additionally, at that time in BMT we rarely did extra homework so neither of us watched the recut release. As a result I was aware that it was a great BMT film, but not exactly just how Highlander II: The Quickening is not just about the film put to screen, but also the story outside of the film.
  • They were all aliums the whole time but didn’t remember that fact in the first film… that’s real.
  • Sean Connery died in the first film and comes back in this one with no explanation… or more accurately there is an explanation, but, as is fitting, it makes no sense.
  • We also hadn’t watched any more of the Highlander series at the time, but now we know that the story of Highlander is just them remaking Highlander over and over again. 

So which do I think is the most important? Objectively, the fact that they are all aliens defines Highlander II: The Quickening. This is what the world correctly remembers the film for and the removal of the alien storyline was one of two reasons why the film was recut in the first place. The other reason is that they cut out a bunch of expository scenes in the theatrical release that better explain (the still ludicrous) plot of the film. So basically they released an incomprehensible film filled with alien stuff to theaters and then removed the alien stuff in order to put back in a bunch of exposition… which at times relies on understanding that they are all aliens. It’s truly stunning.

How did the rewatch go? Uh, spectacular, duh. I actually think I learned a lot watching the two versions of the film. You can see how two pretty different stories can be constructed from the same set of scenes. It made me kinda sad, too, when I realized that not everyone is as deranged as we are and have no access to the original cut of the film. That’s because the alien storyline is terrible, and yet vital to the full story that the creators clearly wanted to tell. So basically there is no available version of the film that correctly explains the plot: both alien and exposition preserved. Which leads me to the baffling conclusion that I am in fact one of the most knowledgeable Highlander II: The Quickening scholars on either Earth or Zeist. For using my formidable intellect I am one of the few that can now envision the creator’s true intent. I call it… Highlander II: The Quickening – Sklog Rebel Edition. I feels good… the power *lightning crashes from the sky* Aaaarrrrghhhhhhhhh THE QUICKENING!!!!!

And that is my (shocking) conclusion about Highlander II: The Quickening that I need to make abundantly clear: the recut version of the film is NOT a good film. While it is true that the basic storyline is better explained, the why and how of the immortals is totally botched by removing the aliens. We have a film where Christopher Lambert is in laughable old man makeup only to be turned young again and have his friend Sean Connery come back to life (after having his head cut off in the first film) and their explanation in the “Renegade” version that is meant to clarify this is a shrug of the shoulder and a handwave that it all took place on Earth but a long time ago or whatever… just have the balls, man! Say it! Say they were aliens! You clearly wanted to and now you don’t because people made fun of you. You can’t pretend like you never wanted them to be aliens. You did. Just admit it. Release the Sklog Rebel Edition! 

This is 1000% a BMT film and also complete justification of our more recent tendency to search and out and consume available materials related to the film at hand. It really is aging like a fine wine as they continue to tinker with releases (as recently as 2004). After the rewatch, I now think it’s high time for another recut and hopefully this Hall of Fame speech can be considered my official campaign to be put in charge of this new (and final) recut. But they probably won’t give us the reigns for such an important endeavor. And I’m not surprised because they probably don’t have the balls to make such a bold and daring move. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Highlander II: The Quickeneing. *Shrugs shoulder and zooms away on a rad flying skateboard*

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