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Movie Review

Highlander: Endgame

MPAA Rating: R for violence and some strong sexuality

Reviewed by: Danel Griffin
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure
Length:
1 hr. 28 min.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
_____
Scene from “Highlander: Endgame”
Featuring: Adrian Paul, Christopher Lambert, Lisa Barbuscia, Jim Byrnes, Ian Paul Cassidy
Director: Douglas Aarniokoski, Doug Aarniokoski
Producer: William Panzer, Peter S. Davis, William N Panzer
Distributor: Dimension Films

Had the original “Highlander” film had remained untouched by sequels or spin-offs, there is no question that it would still be regarded as one of the most influential films of the sci-fi genre. Telling the story of Immortals battling for supremacy over the centuries, the final one left standing to receive a mystical “prize,” its storytelling and intrigue forever changed the face of the fantasy film, and it deservedly gained the status of one of the godfathers of the modern science-fiction movies, listed right up there with “Star Wars,” “Blade Runner”, and “Alien.”

However, its success merited a franchise which quickly grew to “Star Trek” proportions. It went onto produce two more sequels besides this one, a cartoon show, a few video games, and, most importantly, a long-lived TV show that last for six seasons.

It is difficult to compare this film with the first film. The original “Highlander” was a standalone film, made before the knowledge that its popularity would merit so many spin-offs. This is a film made at the end of the film’s successful franchise, capping a universe that has lasted for over ten years. Therefore, I find it difficult to review the film in standalone fashion. Make no mistake: This is a film FOR “Highlander” fans BY Highlander fans. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; indeed, try to watch a “Star Trek” movie without any understanding of previous film or television entries and you’ll be utterly confused. This film is the same way. It unites the Highlander of the films, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and the Highlander from the TV show, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) for the first film since the first episode of the series (Quentin MacLeod, from the cartoon show, is missing however). They are pitted against an ancient evil named Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne) and his companion, Faith (Lisa Barbuscia). The former is seeking revenge against Connor, while the latter is out to get Duncan. Therefore, since neither one of the Highlanders can defeat them alone, they must tag team against the to evil immortals if they want to keep the evil from destroying the world.

As I said, this is a film strictly for “Highlander” fans. Anyone else trying to watch it will be confused and bored. As a film fan, I will confess that “Highlander” is a brilliant piece of work, and hence, I am a fan of it. Therefore, I found “Highlander: Endgame” enjoyable, though I feel that some of the character development was a little underdone. A few of the villainous henchmen I would have liked to have seen more work done on. I also would have liked to have seen more development between the two MacLeods. In the franchise, it is explained that Connor, about one hundred years older than Duncan, trained him in the ways of the Immortals. From this mentor/student relationship, a deep friendship formed that made the two like brothers. As a fan, I knew this, so a scene towards the end of the film which I won’t give away reaches its peak as very touching and significant. Someone unfamiliar with the series might find it a tad confusing. (Fans will also find welcoming some familiar faces from both the first film and the TV show, but I won’t give away any of their cameos either.)

Despite these shortcomings, however, the film itself is quite good. The well-choreographed action scenes alone are worth the price of admission, and both Lambert and Paul deliver performances that are so powerful… so sincere and moving… that even a non-fan will be touched by their delivery. Truly, these are two of the finest performances of the year. The use of scenery is also Oscar-worthy, with good Scottish/Irish tunes to back them up.

Moral-wise, there is a great deal of violence (the only way to kill an Immortal is to cut off his head). People get shot, helpless Immortals are decapitated, and a few mortals are attacked. There are some very offensive scenes of sex featuring nudity, but points go to the writers for putting it between a husband and wife who are reconciling. There are also one or two swear words.

This is considered without going into the idea of the Occult. The ideas of Immortals battling for each others power, with the last Immortal having the power to rule the world, can be downright non-Christian and almost borderlines Satanic. The fact that Kell has taken 663 heads and later takes three more also hints upon the idea that perhaps he is attempting to become the Antichrist. Personally, though, I don’t mind these references or this fantastical idea of the “prize.” One needs to suspend their belief for a while when watching these types of movies, and there is no more reason to be offended by the undertones in this than there is to be offended by ideas presented in “Star Wars” or “The Matrix”. Besides, “Highlander” gave “Dungeons and Dragons” fans a very good outlet in the eighties in contrast to the frighteningly-Satanic board game. They could enjoy their fantasy without blatant demonic references. This film continues that tradition, and for that, we should be grateful.

Summing it all up, this is the perfect ending to a nearly thirteen-year franchise, and all “Highlander” fans should drop what they’re doing and flock to go see it. I applaud the writers and the director for their effort here, but most of all, I applaud Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul for their masterful performances. Having been tackling their roles for years, they’ve got the part nailed, and their presentations here pay the ultimate tribute to a fantasy franchise that has reached epic proportions. If there can be only one, this film is the right one!


Viewer Comments
…Conner and Duncan are kinsman, not rivals. Any fan of the series would know that it’s about spirituality, not violence. The fighting is just what they are forced to live with. Highlander has always been a wonderful tale of good vs. evil, and Endgame is the best of all. To a first time Highlander viewer, this film may seem confusing, but I thought they explained things pretty well. This film is a must for any fan of the tv series and/or the first movie! My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Kevin Erickson, age 22
I have never enjoyed the Highlander series, so my review may be judgmental based on that alone, but I have to say that I hated the movie. The storyline was very weak, usual fare. Basically more souls to gain, sword fighting, sex scenes, etc. There is nudity and sex in this movie, so that alone isn’t good (as far as morality is concerned) and lots of violence. Now, I don’t have much of a problem with violence in movies, but this movie has extremely pointless fighting. it seemed like they took the same sword fighting scene and spliced it in every couple of minutes! I was bored to tears through this whole movie, and only went because my dad bought me goodies. But goodies was all that interested me through this horrible waste of money and time… Don’t blow your money on “Highlander: Endgame”…I’m sure Scottish people hate Highlander anyway… My Ratings: [2/1]
—Kevin S. Waid, age 19
“Highlander: Endgame” from a strictly movie making point of view was very enjoyable and something I could watch in one sitting and not be the least bit bored, indeed I was able to do this three times in a week knowing it was well worth my money. Still the editing is awful in a TRULY awesome way, and it’s really just a collection of enjoyable scenes with very little to string them along. I got the impression though that Highlander was continuing, however its Christian subtext from the series (Duncan Macleod is a devout Catholic if lacking understanding of judge not lest ye be judged and so is Connor). Unfortunately, I got the impression most of the spiritual elements died on the cutting room floor in order to avoid offense… however you can still see them. Jacob Kell the Inquisitor from the number of heads he’s taken (and thus souls) 666 is quite clearly meant to stand for the Beast born of hatred against God and all that is pure and holy. The fact he’s a former Catholic priest and believes what he’s doing is God’s will is a great testament that the wicked often count themselves among the righteous. The fact his female servant is named Faith and is need of forgiveness is also curious. Take a note by the way that Connie Macleod on the burning stake was a Jesus figure. She pointed out the God Kel worshipped was not the God of the Book of God, but a God of his own devising; a hateful, intolerant, and vengeful one. She by her statement did an act that the superstitious of Glenfinian could not. It also handles suicide well if you look under the text. Also note the strong sex scene is not exactly for family nor is the violence-hey they are married :-) (and reconciling).
—Charles Phipps, age 19
There were some good lessons in the movie. Forgiveness was a big theme. It was also emphasized that “revenge will never bring redemption.” However, for the negative elements, I would not recommend this film. The violence and the graphic sex scene were the lesser of the evils, in my view. The worst was the complete mockery of Christ displayed in the film. The bad guy in the film, a very evil, revenge-bent man, wears three crosses—with the center cross being a crucifix—on the heal of his shoe. This is shown several times. Also, in a flashback scene, Colin’s mother is about to be burned at the stake by priests and is told to renounce Colin as her son to save her life. Her response is that if this is what their God is like then she will have to find another. My heart was stricken. If a good action flick is what is important to you, then you will enjoy the film. In that regard, it was very well done. However, if you don’t enjoy violence and nudity in a film, or if the zeal of God is important to you, then you will not find pleasure in this film. My Ratings: [3½/4]
—Deanna Marquart, age 29
…looks like it was stitched together from three different movies whose cans got mixed up in the editing suite…
—Derek Elley, Variety
…borderline incoherent…
—Gemma Files, Film