From the Archive – Highlander: Endgame (2000)

“It will take two immortals to defeat the ultimate evil. But in the end, there can be only one.”

Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski.
Starring Christopher Lambert, Adrian Paul and Bruce Payne (again, readers may come to think of as all you need to know).

Brief Synopsis

Connor’s adopted daughter gets blown up, so he goes into seclusion and is kept sedated on holy ground, only the whole place gets shot up and the attacker – an immortal – kills a bunch of other immortals on said holy ground, because that doesn’t matter any more.

Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) gets threatened by some guys, then Connor shows up. Flashbacks show us that Connor is being stalked by a now-immortal ex-priest named Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne, the man who understudied for the absent Julian Sands in Warlock III for crying out loud), whom he killed when they burned his mother as a witch, and that the guy’s hench-chick – one of several immortal minions who can’t do the basic maths of ‘there can be only one’ – is Duncan’s ex-wife, whom he stabbed to make her immortal without asking her first.

Connor forces Duncan to kill him so that he can gain the strength to fight Kell, who has killed 666 immortals once he offs his henchlings.

Numerous alternate versions exist, but there is little to suggest that any of them make much more sense than that.

What’s wrong with it?

It sucks. Seriously. It’s incoherent, the baddies wear these ridiculous outfits, yet have no sense of theme to tie them together and justify such an outre fashion statement; it’s just as if they all still think it’s the 80s. Nor is there any explanation as to why they a) work for another immortal in the first place, and b) just sit there and let him kill them. It feels half-formed, and none of the violations of the immortal traditions and rules are addressed in any way.

What’s right with it?

There are a couple of decent swordfights. Oh, and it completely disowns II by stating outright that none of the immortals have ever known where they come from or why they’re immortal.

How bad is it really?

Terrible, although not quite so bad as the Quickening.

Best bit (if such there is)?

The fight between MacLeod and a Chinese hench immortal is nicely choreographed, but alas cut short.

What’s up with…?

  • Even more hench immortals? And these ones seem so enamoured of their boss that they just stand there and let him kill them.
  • The incredible reviving love interest? The hench-chick is plainly decapitated by Kell, but in some versions appears alive at the end.
  • Killing on holy ground? Not fighting one-on-one? Even the bloody Kurgan followed the rules, and he was just so much more evil than Bruce Payne. Surely if the rules could be circumvented, he’d have done it? As an observation, Kell wears crosses on the soles of his shoes. Is this some insulation against holy ground? Who knows? Who cares?
  • The hench-chick working with Kell in the first place. She even seems largely immune to Kell’s allegedly overwhelming charisma. The idea seems to be that they work together through mutual hate, but they don’t really say or show it.

Ratings:

Production values – As with The Sorcerer, Endgame picks up a few undeserved points for its general production values. It’s slickly made and competently directed, with some nicely shot and choreographed action. However, it loses serious points on the editing, whatever cut you watch. 12

Dialogue and performances – Workmanlike. Lambert plods rather morosely through the picture, but Paul is a watchable lead, and shite though he is, Bruce Payne chewing scenery is always reasonable value for your bargain buck. Highlander the Series stalwarts Jim Byrnes and Peter Wingard make a good showing in rather limited cameos, but the love interest is lacklustre. The dialogue is likewise unexceptional, but falls short of risible. 11

Plot – The plot is all over the place, and suffers greatly from its attempt to combine nemeses from the two MacLeods’ histories without sufficient rationale or chemistry. 14

Randomness – Oy! Randomness we got! The film feels overfull in places, with the upshot that many, many elements are simply not explained. Ever. 17

Waste of Potential – Unlike the follow-up films, the TV series actually got to be worth watching. That just makes this abomination even worse by comparison. A chance to save the franchise, pissed down the toilet. 20

Overall: 74%

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