‘Immortals Connor and Duncan Macleod must join forces against Kell, an evil immortal who has become too strong for anyone to face alone.’
Being the fourth movie in a franchise, you would think that Highlander Endgame would have a lot to live up to. But given the disasters of the previous two movies, one could only hope that it came close to the fun of the original.
When it was released in 1986, the original Highlander film quickly became a cult hit, spawning a TV series, an animated series, and several sequels. All of these tie-in’s seem to have missed the fact that at the end of the original Highlander, Connor McLeod (Christopher Lambert) had won the game and acquired the prize (Apart from Highlander 2, which tried to work it into a bizarre new mythology). This would mean no more immortals, end of story. But since when has continuity mattered when cashing in on cult films?
There is a lot that I enjoyed about this movie, but there’s a lot more that I found really irritating. For one, the movie can’t seem to make up it’s mind as to whether or not it was made for Highlander fans. On the one hand, every character that any Highlander fan would already know is introduced through a tedious set of flashbacks (obviously to cater to the new viewer). On the other hand there are numerous references to various groups and obscure backstory elements out of the TV and animated series that are never explained. e.g. The Watchers play a significant part in the story. If you don’t know who they are, you’re illustrating my point perfectly.
Another glaring fault is another in a long series of outrageously over-acted villains. I love a hammy performance as much as the next guy, but Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne) is just plain silly in this movie. He didn’t even seem all that much of a threat in the end. All of the magical powers that the trailer delighted in showing us are completely absent from the film, leaving us with an actor who has obviously never held a sword before. The back story behind the character is quite interesting – and doesn’t feel out of place with the mythology – but I’m really sick of the psychotic/personal grudge against the hero/I kill for laughs bad guy. Given that the description could apply to any of the other Highlander films’ antagonists, you would think that they would try something new with the fourth movie.
The editing and pacing of the movie are all over the place, unsurprising given that there were six editors brought in on the film to try and make it work. Given the amount of stuff in the trailer that didn’t make it in to the film, I would imagine that there were quite significant problems in getting the film finished and out to theaters.
One aspect of the movie that is a significant improvement over the previous entries is the fight choreography. The fights involving Duncan McLeod (Adrian Paul) and Jin Ke (Donnie Yen) are particularly good. Since they’re both martial arts experts, this isn’t really surprising. The movie also dwelt a lot more on the pain involved with being immortal, something that often gets left by the wayside in these stories. Connor’s painful description of all the people he has buried over the centuries of his life is a particularly poignant moment.
I’ve always been a big fan of the concept behind these movies, and as such I am probably much more forgiving than other viewers. If you like the other movies, it’s probably worth checking this one out for a bit of closure (I know there are other movies out there now, but they don’t involve Connor McLeod anymore). Otherwise, I would advise you to not waste your time.
What I Liked – Great fight scenes between Adrian Paul and Jin Ke. Deals well with the issue of immortality. Provides some closure for Highlander fans who are sick and tired of crappy sequels.
What I Didn’t Like – Poor editing. Switches between being a film for the fans and a standalone while doing neither successfully. A terrible antagonist. Far too many tedious flashbacks.
Rating – 2 out of 5 (Disappointing)