From the Archive – Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994)

“This time it’s for eternity.”

Directed by Andrew Morahan.
Starring Christopher Lambert and Mario van Peebles

Brief Synopsis

After four centuries trapped in a cave, the evil immortal Kane (‘Super’ Mario van Peebles) – who apparently makes the Kurgan look like a pussycat – is freed by development construction. Will they never learn?

This awakening reactivates Connor’s full powers, although we learn that he survived a fatal car wreck in the highlands which dispatched the love interest of the original film, and he and Kane kill one of the latter’s hapless hench-immortals apiece, before convening for the ultimate showdown, in which Connor wins the prize again. The twist is that, in addition to his mastery of the sword, Kane also possesses the power of illusion, stolen from Connor’s second mentor, the sorcerer Nakano, along with his head and his Quickening.

Along the way, there’s also a romantic plotline with an archaeologist who uncannily resembles Connor’s French Revolution love, and Kane kidnaps Connor’s adopted son to use as live bait. At one point they fight on holy ground, and Connor’s sword explodes.

What’s wrong with it?

The Sorcerer is essentially a rehash of the original with some extra special effects, only this time it isn’t novel and different. It’s woefully short on swordfights, and ‘Super’ Mario just lacks the camp malevolence of Clancy ‘Kurgan’ Brown. Its attempts to rationalise its own existence in the wake of the events of the original are – if less crazed than II’s – still fairly stretched. Far more of the film is set in daylight, and the colouration is better than in the original, which actually ends up detracting from the overall atmosphere.

What’s right with it?

There’s some nifty SFX, and the love interest is of a slightly higher calibre than in the original (largely because there’s a small child to do the screaming incompetence).

How bad is it really?

Unlike II, this film is at least watchable. That said, it’s still pretty abominable.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Even the swordfights are pretty dull in this one. It says a lot about the overall quality of the film that the best moment is probably ‘Super’ Mario proving that Kane is out of touch by trying to eat a condom. And no, it’s not one of those things you had to be there for; that’s really all there is to it.

What’s up with…?

  • This whole power of illusion thing in the first place? Fair’s fair though; at least this time there actually is a new kind of magic.
  • Hench immortals? Why would anyone do it? You know that you’re going to end up dead.
  • The exploding sword? OK, I buy that it’s supposed to be some sort of resistance to immortals duelling on holy ground, but since Kane attacked, why does his katana remain intact? Moreover, why doesn’t he even try to finish MacLeod off while he’s unarmed?

Ratings:

Production values – Pretty good; in fact, almost too good. The whole thing is so well-shot it actually loses the gritty atmosphere of the original because of it. 6

Dialogue and performances – So-so. The dialogue is fairly uninspired, the acting is vaguely competent. Nothing outstandingly bad, but nothing more than workmanlike really. 10

Plot – At best, the plot is patchy. In places, the film feels more like a series of vignettes than a coherent narrative, and the flashbacks to the French Revolution – indeed the entire romantic subplot – feels tacked on, and rather pointless. 14

Randomness – While it has nothing on II, much in The Sorcerer goes unexplained. The exploding sword, Kane’s hibernation, the henchlings, the reincarnated lover. 10

Waste of Potential – Less shameless than the second film, as this does not abuse the mighty Sean, but even for a Super Mario van Peebles/Christopher Lambert film, this is pretty slack. 12

Overall: 52%

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