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Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) Poster

Trivia

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Michael Ironside recalled his experiences on the film: "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 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."
Grossly contradicts Highlander (1986), its prequel. All subsequent Highlander films ignore this entry in the series.
Christopher Lambert was so disgusted with the re-written script that he wanted to drop out of the film; contractual obligations forced him to finish it.
Christopher Lambert refused to use a fake sword for the fight scenes. In his first scene with it he cut his finger to the bone and Michael Ironside dislocated his jaw in the dome fight. After these accidents, Lambert agreed to use a plastic sword.
John C. McGinley made his character's voice as deep as possible in an effort to imitate Orson Welles. He has since admitted that it was a bad idea.
Roger Ebert named "Highlander II: The Quickening" the worst film of 1991.
After "Highlander II" bombed at the box office, it was decided that the following films Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994), Highlander: Endgame (2000) and Highlander: The Source (2007) would be true and faithful to the original film, story, and mythology by ignoring "Highlander II: The Quickening" and disregarding Connor MacLeod and the Immortals' origins as extra-terrestrials. In fact, there is a long-running joke among Highlander fans that the official name of the third movie should have been "Highlander III: The Apology".
Director Russell Mulcahy disliked the theatrical cut so much that he left the premiere after only fifteen minutes.
The failure of the film forced Russell Mulcahy to direct low budget movies for several years until Paul W.S. Anderson chose him to direct Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), which reactivated his career.
Apart from James Bond, Ramirez is the only other character Sean Connery has played in more than one film.
Christopher Lambert has very bad eyesight. During one sword fight, Lambert, who was not wearing his glasses, nearly severed Michael Ironside's right thumb.
Clancy Brown was asked to reprise his role as The Kurgan in a cameo, but declined.
The idea for the film came about because Christopher Lambert enjoyed working with Sean Connery and really got along with him and Lambert wanted to work with Connery again for "Highlander 2", even though Ramirez died in Highlander (1986). A new story was written where Connor MacLeod, Ramirez and the Immortals were aliens from another planet and Ramirez is brought back to life when Connor undergoes The Quickening and calls his name.
This film was released on November 1, 1991, the same month that Freddie Mercury died of complications from AIDS. He and his bandmates in Queen had enthusiastically contributed several original songs to the soundtrack of Highlander (1986).
Christopher Lambert and Michael Ironside did most of their own stunts.
A technician died after a fall from a crane during the filming.
Unused scenes reveal that the Kurgan from the first film was also a resident of Zeist, and General Katana hired him to kill Connor MacLeod. The final battle between MacLeod and the Kurgan from the 1986 film is shown on a large screen to Zeist bettors, and when the Kurgan fails, Katana sends down the two assassins featured in the final cut of the film to take out MacLeod.
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To recover the franchise, producers made the television series Highlander (1992). Christopher Lambert declined to reprise his role as Connor MacLeod, and the producers chose to create a new character. Lambert then accepted, and appeared in the pilot, to introduce the new hero, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul).
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Christopher Lambert and Michael Ironside both suffered injuries while filming their swordfight. Lambert chipped one of Ironside's teeth, while Ironside inadvertently chopped off part of Lambert's finger. Both men recovered from their injuries, but Ironside said precision thrusts and parries were impossible when wielding a 22-pound broadsword.
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Russell Mulcahy was so frustrated at being locked out of production that he tried to have his credit changed to "Alan Smithee". However, a section of his contract forbade him from publicly attacking the film before it was released. The producers said that if he had his credit changed it would be considered an attack and he would be sued.
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Stock footage from the film was used in episodes of Highlander (1992), particularly in the opening credits and "Quickening" sequences.
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Initial budget of the movie was estimated at thirty million dollars. Sean Connery received 3.5 million dollars for nine days of filming. Connery used all the money as donations for charitable causes.
In the Renegade version, a documentary following the film has the filmmakers explain why the original theatrical release contradicted the first film. According to them, inflation in Argentina had gotten so bad during filming that the film's insurance company started to take creative control and made a film they thought would make the most money.
Originally, Ramirez was not supposed to be in the film. However, Christopher Lambert had become such good friends with Sean Connery while filming the original, that he threatened to back out of this film, if Connery's character was not added to it.
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Back to the Future Part II (1989) was released shortly after production on this film began. The design team had to redesign the Zeist assassins' flying sleds to make them look less like Hoverboards.
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An alternate ending - "The Fairytale Ending" - was shown in some European theaters but never shown in any of the American cuts. This ending shows Louise return with Connor magically to Zeist and embracing in front of a field of stars then transform into light streaks and fly off into space.
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No blue screen or special effects were used for the hoverboard fight sequence. Christopher Lambert wore wires and harnesses, set up by the team behind the flying sequences in Superman (1978).
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Virginia Madsen auditioned for Heather in the original Highlander (1986).
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Sean Connery was sued by an Assistant Director for sexual harassment.
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The Argentinian author Diego Curubeto explains in his book Babilonia Gaucha (dedicated completely to big movie productions filmed in the country) the secrets of the filming, like the different love affairs of Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery with some women in Buenos Aires.
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Features heavy product placement from Wendy's, particularly during meals.
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The original screenplay featured several alternate sequences and more detailed exposition. For instance, three assassins confronted MacLeod, not two. They arrived during an elaborate wine-tasting sequence. Also, the Kurgan (the first film's antagonist) was revealed to be a henchman of Katana sent to Earth to prevent MacLeod and Ramirez from winning the Prize. Ramirez and Connor were seen reincarnated as their Earth identities, in Egypt and Scotland, respectively. One Zeist day was equal to one Earth century. When above the Shield, Ramirez's katana is magically returned to Connor.
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The final fight scene between MacLeod and Katana is composed of two separate battles. They are shown correctly in the Renegade Version.
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The movie was promoted as "The Biggest Superproduction filmed in Argentina".
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According to Russell Mulcahy in those days, "Buenos Aires has the futurist and apocalyptic style I want to show".
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Although the film was ultimately taken out of Russell Mulcahy's hands the British distributor allowed the director and producers a chance to re-edit the film. The British version runs ten minutes longer than the studio's cut and is much closer to the original script, including reinserted flashback sequences and an alternate ending.
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Virginia Madsen admitted to doing the film for two reasons: to go to Argentina, and to work with Sean Connery.
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One of the reasons of the big failure of the movie was the confrontation between Russell Mulcahy and the producers. As a result, the rush to finish the movie forced a new script where the origin of the immortals was the planet Zeist. When the movie was released Mulcahy left the premier after fifteen minutes and years later he released his famous "Director's Cut", called "The Renegade Version", in VHS and DVD. In this version, all references about Zeist were deleted and the origin was changed to Connor and Ramirez coming from Earth in the past and the technology from the past allowed them to go forward in time to Earth and new dialogue was written for the judges in the scene in the judge's chamber where Connor and Ramirez were standing trial for their crimes and General Katana and the judges observing Connor in the future through a hologram-like television set that was created for the "Renegade Version". Finally, in 2004 Mulcahy released the "Special Edition", where the shield above planet Earth is blue instead of orange. Also there are three endings, according the version: 1st - original final, with MacLeod smiling to Louise Marcus; 2nd - a new final where MacLeod and Marcus kissing on a lake; 3rd - MacLeod saying goodbye to Marcus, shining and levitating in the air. Marcus asks go with him and MacLeod agrees. Marcus flies towards MacLeod, they kiss and go. In the three endings Ramírez talks as voice over (like the previous film, Highlander (1986)).
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During nine days of filming, Christopher Lambert was a client of the Buenos Aires' discotheques and night clubs, which made him unable to film any scene during the day, due to hangovers when he arrived to the set.
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Completed production exactly four years later to the day of the first Highlander (1986).
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Sharon Stone was considered for the role of Louise Marcus.
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After cutting his hand when filming a stunt sequence, which required twelve stitches, Christopher Lambert wanted to continue filming the sequence so the crew did not lose any time.
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The production team, as well as Christopher Lambert, were reluctant to do the sequel because they had felt they had delivered a wonderful film with the original and did not want to do a sequel because the original film made money and they needed to come up with a good story before going ahead with it.
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Christopher Lambert was cheated by false Argentinian business men to invest the money he got from the movie in some financial managements. Lambert lost all the money.
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Zeist is also a city in the central Netherlands.
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When the filming was starting, a sea storm isolated all the sets created in the Buenos Aires' seaport.
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During the visit of the producers of the movie to Buenos Aires, Victor Bo, actor and director of low budget movies, tried to interest to the producers to make an American version of one of his worst movies: Los superagentes no se rompen (1979).
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A one million dollar television advertising campaign was run for the release of the film.
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It is never explained why MacLeod and Ramirez became immortal upon their exile to Earth. An early script explained that one day on Zeist is the equivalent of one year on Earth, but this was never explained in the final film.
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Sean Connery was almost cheated when he was offered to buy a mansion at an exhorbitant price.
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Almost immediately at the beginning of the production many lawsuits were filed by Argentinian staff for default of labor laws.
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One of the producers was Alejandro Sessa, who was the key years earlier in some low budget movies directed by Roger Corman in Argentina.
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In Spain, Christopher Lambert's character is known as "Conner MacLeod" after that in the Spanish dubbed voice of Highlander (1986) Connor was turned in "Conner", and all later sequels were adapted in the dubbed voice according with it.
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Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown, who portrayed The Kurgan in the first film, later collaborated together on Justice League Unlimited (2004) as Darkseid and Lex Luthor, respectively.
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The fight scene between MacLeod and Katana on top of a moving truck was intended to be filmed during production, but when the film's completion bond company took over, the scene was scrapped. Four years later, Russell Mulcahy recruited Christopher Lambert, Virginia Madsen, and Michael Ironside to film the scene as originally intended. The fight appears in both the 1995 "Renegade" cut and the 2004 "Special Edition."
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Some local artists worked behind the camera: Awafi, a company specialized in computer animations and some director's works, specialist in prosthetics Alex Mathews and specialist in visual effects Tom Cundom, who would later arm the grenade which blew up Argentinian actor Cesar Pierry.
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Producer William N. Panzer and the production team constructed a story that took place in the future that dealt with important issues such as the depletion of the ozone layer and the destruction of the planet from ultraviolet radiation.
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From the beginning, the filming was planned in Argentina, in accordance with an incredibly corrupt government in those years.
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During the filming celebrities of Argentinian cinema told the local press that the movie received big subsidies from Argentina's government on the pretext that the movie was a co-production with Argentina. In the movie only local people were extras, which doesn't explain the inversion.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Initial plans for a third film titled Highlander III: The Reckoning, would have detached the story even further from the original film. It would have taken place entirely on Zeist, and would have involved Connor training a rebel army to overthrow the rulers of the planet. However, the post-production editing of Highlander II, which changed that films ending, plus the poor box-office performance nixed the idea.
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In the LaserDisc Edition, there is a documentary where director and producers blame the failure on bad Argentinian ethical labor and they remove the concept of planet Zeist, although this concept appears in the first screenplay.
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The filming in Buenos Aires attracted all kinds of corrupt politicians and celebrities wanting to get close to Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert. The two met, and did some photos with the Argentina's President at this time, Carlos Saúl Menem, who makes a brief cameo in the movie.
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The place where the Ramirez holds the last meeting with the rebels in the Zeist flashback, is a derelict Zeist spacecraft.
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Acording to the documentary 'Highlander 2': Seduced by Argentina (2004), the failure of the movie was partially a result of the interference of the company Interstar, in the job of the director and the producers, and also by Argentina's economic troubles.
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An enormous set was built to resemble a futuristic street, using the E line of the subway and the old market place Abasto (before plans to turn it into shops and after using it as market). Russell Mulcahy too filmed in the Valley of the Moon and The Andes' mountain range.
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The rental of the filming studio in Buenos Aires had a cost of 300,000 dollars, a price marked previously with an organization of the Argentinian state but in a dirty and turbulent movement (the producers were told that they exceeded the budget; it's unknown if they were implied on purpose) the final amount was ten million dollars. The Argentina Central Bank did a loan of the money in exchange to recover it with the benefits of the movie. As the movie was a failure the money wasn't recovered.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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