There can be only one! Part II

So the Highlander franchise has become a joke. The first sequel was an embarrassment and while the second attempt was better, its still not a very good film.

The franchise decided to stay away from movies for a while after that and a TV spin off was created instead.

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I don’t really want to cover the TV show here as I only want to concentrate on the movies themselves and I really didn’t like it much anyway.
But I bring up the TV show for a good reason as the next film ties the original film series with the TV spin off.
Quick synopsis of the TV show: Duncan MacLeod is a fellow clansman of Connor MacLeod and another immortal, Duncan has lived for around 400 years. Connor comes to Duncan to ask him to help good win over evil by hunting evil immortals.

In 2000, a film was made that tied together both the continuity of the movies and the TV show.

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Highlander: Endgame: As I said, this was an attempt at bridging the film series with the TV show. Christopher Lambert is back as Connor MacLeod as well as Adrian Paul playing Duncan MacLeod from the TV spin off.

In 1555, Connor returns to his former home in Glenfinnan, Scotland where his mother is being terrorised by the village priest Jacob Kell. Kell eventually executes Connor’s mother for witchcraft. This angers Connor who then kills Kell and sets Glenfinnan ablaze.
Jacob Kell is reborn as an immortal and vows vengeance and spends the next four centuries killing people Connor cares about.

Connor departs for ‘The Sanctuary’, a place where Immortals are put under surveillance by a subgroup called ‘Watchers’ to prevent ‘The Prize’ from being won. Kell finds and attacks ‘The Sanctuary’ and Connor along with all the other immortals there are believed to have been beheaded.

Meanwhile, Duncan has a vision of ‘The Sanctuary’ and starts to investigate. He learns that Connor was spared by Kell and is very much still alive. Kell plans on killing Duncan to punish Connor further, yet Connor tells Duncan that Connor must be beheaded by Duncan so he can grow stronger in order to kill Kell.

An ‘interesting’ idea of trying to tie in the film franchise with the TV spin off I admit. But interesting does not mean it was good. This just boils down to being one of those “not as bad as Highlander II” films.

With the fourth film in the franchise all done, what is next?

It would be around here when fans will say: “What about the animated movie?”
Well first, I have not seen it and second, from what I have researched it really has nothing to do with the live action films away. Yeah the main character is a MacLeod…but its an adoptive name so he is no relation to either Connor or Duncan.

Yet many do consider is canon. So I’ll mention it anyway.

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Highlander: The Search for Vengeance: I have never seen this as I previously mentioned, but from what I gather it is supposed to be quite good.
Though I’m not sure how to trust the prase when most of it claims its the best film with the Highlander name since the first one. I mean, that is not high praise as far as I am concerned as every film after the first one has been complete shit to just plain horedous at best.

When a film is ‘praised’ for not being as bad as Highlander II…that’s not really praise in my eyes.
Once bitten and all that.

Still, maybe one day I’ll give it a view.

So onto the final of the canonical Highlander films…at last…

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Highlander: The Source: Many think Highlander II was the worst of the sequels…prepare to be wronged.
Some people do not even know this film exists as it was not a big release, it was not even a direct to DVD release either. It was an exclusive made for the Sci-Fi channel (no, I’m not spelling it that way. Its Sci-Fi okay.)

A low budget, asinine effort. But what about the plot eh?
Well Duncan MacLeod is back this time having to fight his way to ‘The Source’ with his small team of instantly forgettable sidekicks. While they fend off the new bad guy on the block…’The Guardian’.
So what is ‘The Source’? Well its this thing that the story writer included into the film for some reason. Quite honestly, I just explained it better there then they do in the film.

I kind of don’t want to talk about this one too much as I really don’t feel like giving this film any more of my personal effort or time and also, I feel this is something that needs to be seen to be believed.

Really, stop reading this and go track down a copy of Highlander: The Source and watch it.
This film is so bad it honestly makes Highlander II look quite good.
There is a Highlander sequel that is worse than Highlander II. Just let that sink in for a while…

Well that is all of the ‘proper’ Highlander films right there. There’s still more to come in Part III where I quickly round up the films, offer my own views and just ask…what the hell happened to this franchise?

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Connor MacLeod:Life brings hope and pain, but revenge never brings redemption.

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There can be only one! Part I

Yeah I know, oxymoron right?

Did you know Highlander is 30 years old this year? Granted, not until August. So a few months away yet, but I was watching Highlander on TV recently and it got me thinking…
What the hell happened to Highlander?

Connor

I was thinking about film franchises that have gone really, really bad. Quite a few came to mind, but one franchise stood out more than any other and that was Highlander.

So here, I’d like to take a brief look at the film series. I know the franchise had other outlets like the various TV series, games and even books/comics. But I only want to concentrate on main films of the franchise here and try to work out how it all went so wrong so quickly.

If you’re have never seen any of the films in the franchise, then be forewarned as this will contain huge spoilers.

Best get stuck in as there is a lot to cover. So lets go back to the film that started it all.

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Highlander: This film was not a huge box office success. However, it became a cult classic when released for the home market and is still considered one of the best films of the 80s.

The plot revolves around a young Scottish warrior named Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) from the 16th century who is wounded on the battlefield by someone known as The Kurgan (Clancy Brown). The wound is a mortal one and Connor declared dead.
Yet the very next day he is up and walking with no ill effects from his battle. He is outcast and ostracised by his village as being in league with the devil and forced to make a new life for himself. This is when he meets Heather who eventually becomes the love of his life.

The two make a life for themselves and are living happily until Connor receives a visit from a stranger called Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Sean Connery), a Spanish (he’s not Spanish, he’s Egyptian) traveller.
Ramírez reveals to Connor that he is an immortal and will never grow old or even die unless his head is removed from his body.
Ramírez is also an immortal and there are many others around the world too. The Kurgan who tried to kill Conner previously is also an immortal. Ramírez goes on to explain that all the immortals have a destiny, that is to fight each other until only one remains (there can be only one).

As the immortals become fewer and fewer over the years, they will feel an unavoidable pull you one place to fight to the death leaving only one final immortal (there can be only one). This is called ‘The Gathering’ and that final immortal can claim ‘The Prize’.
Ramírez tells Connor he can not let The Kurgan claim ‘The Prize’ as he will use it for evil. So Ramírez begins to train Connor in sword combat and prepare for the fight ahead.

Eventually the immortals are killed off over the centuries until only a handful remain. They last few immortals including Connor and The Kurgan are eventually drawn to New York in 1985. The place and time of ‘The Gathering’.

As the last of the immortals are killed, leaving only Connor and The Kurgan left. They fight each other to the death where Connor eventually bests The Kurgan and claims ‘The Prize’ as Connor becomes the only immortal left alive…there can be only one.

Yes I know I have brought up that line a few times already and even titled the article as such too, but there is a very good reason for doing so which I will cover later…

As I said previously, Highlander was not a box office smash, but it has and still does have a strong cult following. It has become one of those quintessential 80s movies.
However, it was also a film that was pretty much self contained and really left no wriggle room for sequels, as…there can be only one!

Yet as the film did do so well after becoming such a cult classic and favourite. A sequel was commissioned and released in 1991.
Oh dear…

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Highlander II: The Quickening: Often regarded as one of the worst film sequels ever made. The original film was far from perfect and had several problems. What this sequel seems to have done is taken everything that was great about the first film and throw it out. Then just taken the remains of the crap and make an entire film from it all.

If you thought the plot of the first film was stupid (it kind of was), you ain’t seen nothing yet…

Set in the future of 2024…yeah, you’ve lost interest already haven’t you?
Connor is now an old man after claiming ‘The Prize’ from the previous film has allowed him to age. He has used his amazing powers from ‘The Prize’ to help develop a shield around the earth to replace the damaged ozone layer. Hey, I did warn you about the plot and it’s only going to get much, much, oh so much worse from here…

Anyway, where as the original film left a lot of ambiguity to who/what the immortals were. Here everything is cough “explained”.
Apparently the immortals are aliens from a planet called Zeist. Yes I did just type that, they are aliens from a planet called Zeist. However they are not immortal on Zeist, I’ll cover this next.

Planet Zeist is a horrendous place rife with poverty and war.
While on Zeist centuries ago, Connor MacLeod was part of a rebellion lead by Ramírez who plan to try and overthrow the big bad of this film General Katana (Michael Ironside) and his oppressive regime. However, Katana’s men attack and capture both Ramírez and Connor MacLeod and kill the rest of the rebels. Ramírez and Connor are put on trial by Zeist’s priests, who sentence them to be exiled and reborn on Earth as immortals in pursuit of ‘The Prize’ (the first film).

So the events of the first film happened, leading into the events of this film with Connor now an old man almost ready to die from old age…until for some reason General Katana back on Zeist (who hasn’t aged a day over the centuries) decides to send two more Zeist aliens to Earth to kill Connor. The two ‘assassins’ fail in their mission and get decapitated and this, for some reason, makes Connor young and immortal once more.

Hey, I did warn you about the plot remember?

Here is a conversation taken straight from the film itself to “explain”.

Louise Marcus:Okay, now let me just see if I can get this straight. You come from another planet, and you’re mortal there, but you’re immortal here until you kill all the guys from there who have come here… and then you’re mortal here… unless you go back there, or some more guys from there came here, in which case you become immortal here… again.

Conner MacLeod:Something like that.

Remember, that is the film trying to explain all of this.

Anyway, as General Katana’s minions failed, he decides to come to Earth himself to kill Connor.
Ramírez who was most definitely killed in the first film is back because…the script says so. Connor and Ramírez team up to kill Katana, and that’s about it really.

Highlander II: The Quickening is so full of problems (of which I’ll cover later) its just plain embarrassing. It really is one of the worst most lazily written films ever. There is a reason why this is considered one of the worst sequels ever, because it really, really is.

The film bombed and has gone on to become one of the most hated films ever made. So much so there have been several different cuts released over the years, one that even attempts to remove the whole aliens/Zeist thing completely, so if you have seen Highlander II and don’t remember any aliens, this is most probably why.
Yet it really does not matter which version you watch, its a bad film.

Even though this film killed the Highlander franchise before it began…another sequel was made.

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Highlander III: The Sorcerer: Now this film is nowhere nearly as bad as the last one…though its still not very good.
This film flat out ignores Highlander II and pretends it never existed and many fans claim that this one is the true and proper sequel to the original film.

Onto the plot (ignoring the events of Highlander II).
The film tells to story of Connor who after the death of his wife Heather from the first film, travels to Japan to request training from the Immortal Japanese sorcerer Nakano. Another Immortal named Kane also wants to ‘learn’ from Nakano and finds the sorcerer in a cave, then decapitates him. The force of ‘The Quickening’ from Nakano causes the cave to collapse trapping Kane inside…and this is why he could not take part in ‘The Gathering’ from the first film.

Then in 1994, in Japan, two archaeologists start excavating the cave in an attempt to discover whether the legend of the sorcerer Nakano was based on fact. The excavations free Kane, who immediately sets out in pursuit of Connor.
This all leads to a final showdown between Connor and Kane which Connor eventually wins.

Highlander III: The Sorcerer is not a great film, but its a damn sight better then that other sequel.

I’ll end Part I here, but there is more Highlander silliness coming in Part II of this “There can be only one” look at the Highlander franchise as the sequels get worse, maybe even worse than Highlander II?

Kurgan

The Kurgan:I’m in disguise!

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