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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look: 5.95%
Average: 7.14%
Pretty Bad: 25%
Total Crap54.76%

6 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Highlander: Endgame
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by Erik Childress

"Deconstructing Highlander"
1 stars

The day is coming. The day when movie studios, writers, producers and directors will have realized that there are no more stories for the Highlander. The realization that every last ounce of juice was squeezed from the series (movie and television) and the only money left to be made is from a special edition box set of all four Highlander movies on sale at a local Comicon. What a glorious day that will be. For then, we’ll never have to worry about another horrendous sequel, which is exactly what Highlander: Endgame is. But to truly understand just how ridiculous the latest film is, we have to go back into the past to discover the secrets and incompetence that is the Highlander series.

Someday, an editor with a lot of patience and a responsibility only to timelines and not to plot coherence, will re-edit all the Highlander films in chronological order reminiscent of what Coppola did with The Godfather saga. And why not? Each Highlander chapter has more flashbacks than Dennis Hopper during the making of Apocalypse Now. And each film was met with a later director’s cut released on video, either to correct the director’s butchered vision or to add more sex. The attempt could be made in words to organize the story year by year, but its substantially easier to take the series in baby steps, movie by movie. The following contains severe spoilers, so if you are planning on seeing the fourth installment of Highlander, well – you have my sympathies.

The original Highlander took place in 1986. We are told that immortals have been living amongst us for years and that this is the time of the Gathering, when only a few are left standing and “feel an irresistible pull to a faraway land.” In this case, Manhattan. Through a series of flashbacks, beginning in the year 1536, we are drawn into the life of Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), a Scotsman of the Clan MacLeod. An ancient warrior known as The Kurgen (Clancy Brown) mortally wounds him in battle. Like a rite of passage for the undead, Connor is “reborn” into his immortal nature, stops aging and is cast out of society for fear that he is a product of the devil. Flash forward five years to 1541. Connor has made a home with a beautiful young woman named Heather when he is found by another immortal, Ramirez (Sean Connery), who can’t explain why they are immortal, but he knows the rulebook by heart. The Immortals must challenge each other mano-a-mano. No double or triple teaming. No battle royales to take out one of their own kind. They must never fight on holy ground and they can never bear children. They fall ill when other immortals are near like some death-defying menstrual cycle. And the granddaddy catch phrase rule of them all – “there can be only one.” And every time an immortal kills another, they incite the Quickening, where all the knowledge and power possessed by the finally dead is absorbed into the victor, with lightning shooting into them and everything destroyed within a one block radius. The number of Immortals we actually meet in the original Highlander you could count on a single hand, so we’re never quite given an idea of how many actually exist. What we do know is that we don’t want the Kurgen to win for not only does he kill our favorite James Bond in the film, but by winning “the Prize”, he would “launch mankind into an eternity of darkness.” Yet we need not worry, for MacLeod is our hero and wouldn’t let us down. Connor wins the prize, gaining all the knowledge of all the immortals, not to mention his own mortality, thus never having to go through the pain of watching everyone around him die. Thus ends the first chapter of Highlander on a happy note. A cool idea with a so-so execution, spiced up with a terrific rockin’ and sometimes-poetic soundtrack by Queen.

1991. Highlander 2: The Quickening is released. The major problems begin. The theatrical version, universally panned by both critics and Highlander fans, ran a meager 88 minutes. The new story begins in the year 2024, where a now aging Connor MacLeod is facing the protests of an Earth shield he helped create back in 1999, to substitute for a decrepit Ozone layer. That’s where the simplicity ends. For you see, in the theatrical version we discover that the Immortals were all aliens, banished to the planet Earth to duke it out, but not all of them. Some, like General Kitana, were left behind to monitor the battles like some space age Vince McMahon. So when Kitana sends some more men to Earth to kill MacLeod, he dispatches of them and becomes immortal again. If that’s not stupid enough, Connor can also call Ramirez’s name whenever he needs help and resurrects him like a poor man’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fine. Whatever. But how about this? The “Renegade Version” of Highlander 2 is released on video. It includes 16 minutes of additional footage and drops some of the old material. In Russell Mulcahy’s “original vision”, the immortals are no longer aliens, but simply warriors from “a very long time ago”. So long ago apparently that the writers couldn’t even come up with an actual date. Now, MacLeod and Ramirez (“linked to each other”) are sent into the future to do battle with the rest of the banished immortals, while General Kitana looks on from a holographic screen in the past. Can you hear the alien from Plan 9 from Outer Space yet? Think about it. How does MacLeod then not know Ramirez when he is found in 1541? At that time we know Ramirez was “born” 2,437 years ago, had three wives, and was given a sword by the father of his Japanese Princess wife in 593 BC. Plus he told Connor that he has no idea where they came from or why they are immortal. Is this the Highlander version of Obi-Wan telling Luke that his father was “dead?” Plus now, MacLeod’s “prize” has a fine print. He became mortal at the end of the original and now grows old, but he has up to the time of his death to make the choice of not dying. Excuse me? And MacLeod was fully prepared to die, if only Kitana wasn’t so damn impatient, which is the best reason the screenwriters could come up with.

On to Highlander III: The Sorcerer, changed to The Final Dimension and rated “PG-13” instead of “R” in 1994. This story begins sometime after Connor had left Scotland (after the deaths of Ramirez and his love, Heather) for Japan to seek out the immortal sorcerer, Nakano (Mako). Also seeking out the magic man is yet another eternal enemy by the name of Kane (Mario Van Peebles). Connor is warned, yet again, that if Kane wins “the prize”, the world will suffer “eternal damnation.” I leave it to you to decide which is worse – the “eternal damnation” of Kane’s reign or the “eternity of darkness” served up by the Kurgen, whom Connor seems to forget even though he just killed his best friend not long ago. Regardless, Kane takes the head of Nakano and is trapped with some of his followers in the sorcerer’s cave for 400 years. Now it’s 1994, eight years after the original story. Eight years after Connor won “the prize.” But, wait a minute. What about Kane? He’s been trapped all this time and is now finally reemerging. How can Connor have won “the prize” if there are still immortals running around? I guess Kane was considered on the inactive roster and therefore did not count. Connor also now has an adopted son after relocating to Marakesh. So what happened to his new love, Brenda (Roxanne Hart), from the first story. She is nowhere to be found or talked about in this film and we know from the timeline of part 2 that she dies in the year 1995 as a result of the damaged Ozone layer. She is even the one who crusades Connor into coming up with a solution for the damaged atmosphere on her deathbed where he is obviously saddened. He doesn’t seem to care very much for her in Part 3 as he hops into bed with Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), who is the spitting image of a woman he knew during the American Revolution. Come to think about it - Connor talks a great game each film about the pain of being immortal and watching everyone around him die - yet he hops from new woman to new woman with, what Dan Aykroyd used to call, "the frequency of a cheap ham radio."

Now in the year 2000 comes Highlander: Endgame which is the Star Trek: Generations for Highlander fans. This time the flashbacks reveal to us that Connor had a mother whom was burned at the stake for not renouncing her “demon” son. Responsible for the Joan of Arc-ing is the father (and priest) of one of Connor’s good friends, Kell (Bruce Payne). Connor subsequently kills Kell’s father (goose & gander-style) and also runs through his friend discovering his immortality and turning him into yet another archenemy for all eternity. Blah Blah Blah. And in the present where the quest for “the prize” is apparently still going on is Duncan MacLeod, two generations younger than Connor, and known primarily by fans of the television show, where the true loyal followers of Highlander actually lie. The television show actually is within its limits to stretch and bend the premise for all its worth, using a sort of Fugitive/Incredible Hulk new adventure storyline every week. They could just invent new villains and create new relationships down through the years, but the films don’t have that luxury, although they act like they do. The filmmakers of Highlander: Endgame never bother to tell us what year the film takes place in the present. Is it 2000? Is it past 2024, after Connor shut the red Ozone shield down in Part 2? We’re never sure and it doesn’t stop them from creating a sin that should never be forgiven by the Highlander fans and turns everything you knew or thought you knew about the original story in the first place.

But how is the film? Well, aside from the blaring inconsistencies, it’s a pretty lackluster production. Lambert may literally be sleepwalking through his role as Connor. Every scene Bruce Payne appears in left bite marks alongside the sprocket holes. Adrian Paul is decent, if only because it’s a breath of fresh air to see someone who can pull off the fight sequences, which aren’t all that spectacular in the first place. An interesting subplot is developed in Endgame as Duncan must choose to either leave his wife (in the 1600s) who doesn’t know she is immortal, or to run her through (keeping her young and with him forever) and sacrifice her right to bear children. That’s a potentially fascinating idea, but like common sense and continuity in the Highlander films, it goes rather quickly.

To discuss four Highlander films in length like this gives them much more respect and attention than they deserve. You know a sequel serves no other purpose than to make money when it has no respect for the rules and history it has set up for itself, so why should we respect them any further. I actually get frightened when a Highlander fan tries to intellectualize why the storyline of each and every film makes sense. A popular theory is that the second film was so bad, that it doesn’t count as if it were the Bobby dream season of Dallas. Nice try, but it still doesn’t explain The Final Dimension or Endgame. The third film was billed as the final installment. They broke that promise. Maybe it’s all over now, but what pitiful fond memories we’ll have. We’ll remember the flashback structure that would have made Atom Egoyan cringe. The popular catch phrase – “there can be only one” –, which should have been used as a mission statement after the original came out. Maybe the director’s cut of Endgame will include the added footage of an apology, once and for all. Fortunately you can be told how bad the Highlander series is. One does not have to see it with their own eyes. That aforementioned day is coming alright. Just not soon enough.

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originally posted: 09/07/00 12:34:52
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User Comments

10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 1 stars
5/29/06 Troy M. Grzych Love Highlander but not this film. Next one should be better. 2 stars
7/24/05 C Vega please shoot me! 1 stars
12/03/04 Tom Benton A huge waste of potential that turns out to be moody and foolish, yet watchable. 3 stars
8/06/04 Andy Williams Just to Start there are so many Mistake is Endgames they are too numerous to count . 3 stars
6/07/04 tim great movie 5 stars
4/20/04 X I nearly died from brain hemorraging after watching the movie 1 stars
4/18/04 American Slasher Goddess Slighty better then 3, but still pretty bad. 2 stars
1/04/04 Kenny MacLeod It's Highlander! Who cares if it has continuity or an amateur feel! It's Highlander!!! 5 stars
12/25/03 StinkFoot Lambert has the WEIRDEST voice I ever heard, "Dere khan bee ohnlee whann" - MEGADORK! 1 stars
9/08/03 Kreg Penny Endgame was every bit as bad as Highlander 2; bad acting, and a worse story. 1 stars
1/21/03 Andy Bronson shit movie but Donnie Yen did great things with the action sequences 1 stars
9/15/02 Sugarfoot Slightly better then 2 and 3, yet still bad. 2 stars
7/25/02 CVJ Its like the first one never existed and Connor DIES in it what the fuck happened there?! 1 stars
2/15/02 Zargo the scenes between Christophe and Adrian alone make this movie worth watching 4 stars
1/24/02 Andrew Carden This Makes 1,2, and 3 Look Like The Star Wars Trilogy. 1 stars
11/01/01 Former HL fan Even the die hard fans know this movie is shit, and openly admit it on 1 stars
11/01/01 Gracy Lionheart Shudder...such a bad movie. I cannot begin to describe how bad it is. YUCK!!! 1 stars
8/09/01 DRS You can´t get rid of me,no one can 5 stars
7/20/01 keith langman best of a horrible series 4 stars
6/14/01 Andrew James Barnes Bile leaves a sweeter taste in your mouth than this film. 1 stars
4/03/01 Io The worst movie I have ever seen. 1 stars
3/05/01 Timothy Great Movie and Soundtrack awesome love story 5 stars
12/10/00 brad carter this movie fucking sucked faggot ass! 2 stars
11/30/00 William Bell Worst movie of the year 1 stars
11/17/00 brad carter This movie sucks fat ass. The main character can never die and her i see connor die. 1 stars
10/28/00 Beryl MacCool the scenery was quite interesting, and the movie did have a storyline. I enjoyed it. 5 stars
10/06/00 wong impossible to understand 2 stars
10/05/00 Chantal Whittington I thought Highlander 4 was a pretty good movie--but then, I like swordplay! 4 stars
10/02/00 Image i never watched Highlander before...but i have to say...i rather enjoyed the movie.. 4 stars
9/30/00 terry 2'nd worse modern vampires is the fuckin worse 1 stars
9/29/00 Ron A great movie, but only for a very specialized fanbase. I loved it. Most won't. 5 stars
9/24/00 Will There can be only one. namely, the first movie. Everything else doesn't exist in my world 1 stars
9/14/00 P.S.O.K it's not as bad as most make it out to be. the fight scenes were cool, but that dialoge.... 3 stars
9/14/00 Dipshit Dirk I never saw the 1st 3 or the show, so maybe that's why I absolutely hated it. Absolutely 1 stars
9/13/00 Lugubrious Lou An attempt to brige the movies and series since CL is showing his age. Not too shabby. 3 stars
9/10/00 LdyArdRhi There should have been only one! 1 stars
9/08/00 Spendocrat FYI: Connor is in the pilot episode for the TV series. 2 stars
9/08/00 Lucid and dreamy. Not bad fight scenes. No oscars, but it didn't suck as bad as ppl say. 4 stars
9/07/00 KC Conundrum Screwed up an opportunity to pass the cinematic torch (Lambert to Paul) via a quality film. 2 stars
9/07/00 Xalt I expected better from Adrian Paul and the scriptwriters. Repetitive of the TV series plot. 3 stars
9/06/00 MC Cheese Better than 2 or 3. If you liked the series, see a bargain show. 3 stars
9/06/00 Hollywood Hangover Not even direct-to-video caliber. Someone will surely lose their head for this dog. 1 stars
9/05/00 DarkRomancer I saw it because my date wanted to. Don't make my mistake. 2 stars
9/04/00 Greyjack Go see The Art of War instead. Highlander: Endgame is *that* bad. 1 stars
9/03/00 Thor-Leo Yet another embarrassment for all concerned. 1 stars
9/03/00 Erik C. Thauvin There can be only one, that wasn't it. 2 stars
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  01-Sep-2000 (R)


  15-Feb-2001 (M)

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