Reviewed by: Danel Griffin
|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|
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!