Sunday, July 27, 2014

DVD / Blu-Ray Review: Highlander Endgame

"Highlander Endgame, is an entertaining sword and sorcery  flick that lends credit as a great installment in the Highlander franchise."
Highlander Endgame, the 4th installment in the movie franchise brings together Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) as they must join forces to defeat an evil immortal and former priest from Connor’s home in Glenfinnan, Scotland. The film was released in 2000 but was largely a failure at the box office. Chinese Martial Arts star Donnie Yen also is in the film. Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne), a former priest in 1555 A.D. Glenfinnan, Scotland, home of the Highlander Clan MacLeod vows revenge against Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert). Connor is responsible for killing Father Rainey who raised Kell as a son.
Kell is reborn as an evil immortal after Connor kills him for executing his mother on charges of Witchcraft. In present day, a disenchanted Connor MacLeod goes into exile after Jacob Kell kills his friend, Rachel (Sheila Gish). Kell won’t let him remain at peace in the “Sanctuary”, a holy place where immortals are safe from the game (don’t have to fight other immortals) and the “Prize” is safe from evil.

A while later, Jacob Kell gathers other immortals, including Jin Ke (Donnie Yen) and raids the Watcher protected Sanctuary. Kell and his evil Acolytes kill off every immortal but Connor. Duncan MacLeod, Connor’s cousin and best friend senses something is wrong. Duncan learns from Methos (Peter Winfield) and Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) that Connor MacLeod survived the attack. Duncan heads to the remains of the Sanctuary and encounter’s a former lover of his named Kate (Lisa Barbuscia), who now vows revenge against him for turning her into an immortal. Duncan is nearly killed in the ensuing fight with Jacob Kell and his evil immortals. Duncan MacLeod is saved by the Watchers.

He learns from Joe and Methos how severe the threat of Jacob Kell is. They tell him Kell has taken the heads of 661 immortals throughout the centuries to become the most powerful immortal of them all! Now that he knows what he is up against, Duncan joins forces with Connor. Later on, Duncan reconciles with Kate during a steamy sex scene. Elsewhere, Jacob Kell gains even more power by killing his Acolytes, sans Kate. Connor MacLeod realizes he has nothing left and decides to pass on the torch to Duncan. During their tragic rooftop fight, Connor gives him the power to defeat Jacob Kell. Heeding the Call, Duncan MacLeod heads towards his destiny.

Being a fan of all the other Highlander films and the TV Series, I saw Highlander Endgame in the theaters. I had mixed feelings upon exiting the theater. Some things were missing that could have made the film better. I wasn’t disappointed by Connor MacLeod’s death and lending his spirit/power to Duncan. I felt that was one of the great things about Highlander Endgame.

Highlander Endgame was mostly depressing because of Connor’s appearance and his whining throughout ,however Christopher Lambert did a great job playing this version of Connor MacLeod. He was very convincing with his sickly look, grey hair, and brooding. It almost looked like Christopher Lambert was suffering from some sort of disease.

Connor MacLeod lacked spirit, not enough of his signature laugh, and he just went down easily. The flashback scenes between him and Duncan were fun. I did enjoy the backstory of how they became friends featuring some humor and the charm of both actors. Adrian Paul, Donnie Yen and the action scenes with improved special effects were the best things about Highlander Endgame. The quickening scenes after Connor and Jacob Kell’s death were spectacular; flashbacks on Connor’s life, dark clouds, and the sky tearing open with lightning coming down. The back story on Jacob Kell was well done and you could understand why he was filled with hate, although he was wrong for it because he did kill Connor’s mother first. In terms of reality, Jacob Kell would still be more powerful than Duncan even with him absorbing Connor’s power.

The scene right before Duncan kills Connor was very touching and brought me to tears. Adrian Paul say’s to him, “I love you Connor” with great conviction. Donnie Yen as Jin Ke was only in it briefly but he made quite an impact. The sword and Kung-Fu fight he had with Duncan MacLeod was awesome. You get to see Donnie Yen show off his double bladed sword staff skills. Leading up to the fight, Donnie Yen did an amazing jumping kick from the sports bike he was riding. Donnie Yen should have been in it for more than 3 scenes. He would have made Highlander Endgame better. The other Acolytes were played by some no name actors and were unimpressive. Donne Yen has a very cool line during his battle with Duncan, “Honor is not in the weapon… it is in the man.” The final battle between Duncan MacLeod and Jacob Kell was choreographed well and they added a nice touch with the voice of Connor MacLeod’s spirit being heard.

Bruce Payne was menacing in his role and did a good job displaying the hatred he has for the MacLeod’s throughout the film. Jacob Kell was a memorable Highlander villain. The inclusion of Kate was boring other than the sex scene she has with Duncan. Kate MacLeod shows off her breasts and ass. They should have picked a better looking actress than Lisa Barbuscia. She was too skinny and had fish lips. Highlander Endgame also had some cheesy lines that I felt should have not been included such as; call you from Bruce Payne and Adrian Paul. Former WWE wrestler Edge also has a cameo appearance in one of the flashback sequences. It’s unfortunate that they killed Richie Ryan off in the Highlander TV series. Richie was one of the most likable characters from the franchise. It would have been nice to see Richie/Stan Kirsch in some form in Highlander Endgame.

Like the entire franchise, Highlander Endgame has a great soundtrack including, Bonny Portmore by Jennifer McNeil. I prefer the Loreena McKennitt version. Unfortunately, “Princes of the Universe” and “Who wants to live Forever” by Queen aren’t in the film. The strange thing about these Highlander films is none of them have any continuity. The “Prize” is never permanently claimed. Connor MacLeod supposedly claimed it by defeating the Kurgan but more Immortals appeared. Just like the Star Wars Universe with new Jedi and Sith being born.

The second and third films were in a timeline of their own. Only Highlander Endgame has the closest connection with the original 1986 Highlander film. Highlander Endgame closes with a beautiful scene in the Highlands of Scotland with Duncan paying his respects at Connor’s grave next to his first wife Heather. Overall I think this is the second best Highlander movie in the franchise despite some negative aspects.