Tag Archives: Bruce Payne

The Summer of Lovecraft: Necronomicon (1993)

e_cover

Directed by Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans and Shusuke Kaneko
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Payne, Maria Ford and David Warner

The Story

The Necronomicon itself is one of Lovecraft’s most famous creations, a tome that serves sometimes as a grimoire, sometimes as a secret history of the universe. Lovecraft wrote a cod history of it. The short stories that appear in this anthology are based on “The Rats in the Walls,” “Cool Air” and “The Whisperer in Darkness.”

The Film

We start with a brief framing segment (‘The Library’) in which Lovecraft (Jeffrey Combs) steals the Necronomicon from a bunch of monks. He opens it up and begins to read the stories; we return to this narrative between segments.

summerattemp2

Continue reading The Summer of Lovecraft: Necronomicon (1993)

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Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God

Apparently aka 'The Elemental Might'
Apparently aka ‘The Elemental Might’

“From the ultimate curse comes the ultimate quest”

Directed by Gerry Lively
Starring Bruce Payne, Mark Dymond and Clemency Burton-Hill

When the late minion of the evil Profion recovers an item of appalling power and plots his revenge on the Kingdmo of Ismir, only a band of brave adventurers can stop him, by undertaking the ultimate quest to discover a hidden vault at least, oh, two days travel from the capital.

Continue reading Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God

From the Archive – The Howling VI: The Freaks (1991)

Howling

 

Directed by Hope Perello
Starring Bruce Payne, Brendan Hughes, Michele Matheson

An English drifter, Ian, wanders into a little town in America on the trail of a travelling freakshow. He helps the local Preacher repair his fence while romancing the man’s daughter, checks out the exhibits of the freakshow, then goes all hairy at the full moon.

It turns out that the man who runs the circus – Harker (Payne) – killed our nice drifter’s family and left him with a nasty case of lycanthropy. Before he can get his revenge however, it turns out that Harker can trigger the change with a chant, and young Ian is outcast from the town and locked in a cage at the freakshow. He escapes, has sex with the girl, kills most of the freaks and then takes out Harker with the aid of fellow abused freak, the Amazing Alligator Boy (who is pissed because Harker killed his pet cat, which doesn’t quite rival whole family killed).

Oh; and Harker is some kind of blue-faced vampire thing, and explodes in sunlight.

Ian and Alligator Boy stagger off into the sunrise. The End.

What’s wrong with it?

Oh, where to begin? Well, the characters are unengaging, the actors – so-called – can’t act and the special effects aren’t special. The werewolf looks less like a ravening wolfman than a pissed off guy in a monkey suit, and the vampire is strangely blue. The rest of the freaks just aren’t very scary – a dwarf, a geek and a hermaphrodite; gosh, how terrifying.

What’s right with it?

While certain whys and wherefores are ill-explained, the basic plot is sound and if the script isn’t gold, it at least steers clear of any major howlers, if you’ll excuse the pun.

How bad is it really?

Well, for the sixth movie in the Howling series, it’s really not that bad; it’s just no damn good either.

Best bit

Okay, so there’s this scene where Harker forces Ian to turn into the wolf and gives him a cat to dismember for the enjoyment of the audience, but he just pets it and lets it go. Call me a big sap, but I was moved.

What’s up with…?

  • Ian tracking the circus for years to avenge the murders of his family? He can’t have been trying too hard; it’s not like the carnival is exactly shifting it or anything.
  • The werewolf being much lamer than the one in the first movie? Well; I guess it’s a budget thing.
  • The blue vampire who kills discriminately but for no reason? I mean, we know he’s a vampire, but for all the folks he kills no-one ever seems to turn up drained. The blueness is never explained, and despite his penchant for random slaughter he just KOs the preacher.

Ratings

Production values: Low. As noted, the special effects are all naff makeup, and the werewolf transformation is one of the less spectacular exponents of the breed. 14

Dialogue and performances: Well, Brucey is the definite acting highpoint here. I’ll let you deal with that in your own ways; I recommend a soothing cuppa. 15

Plot and execution: The plot is straightforward enough, but the execution is cack-handed at best. The film isn’t hard to sit through, but it is hard to keep your attention on it. 16

Randomness: Impressively little, once you get past the freakshow concept and its attached baggage of mutant carnies. 8

Waste of Potential: Well, it’s not as good as The Howling, but it’s better than the other four. 9

Overall 62%

From the Archive – Sweepers (1999)

sweepers

 

“He walks where other men fear.”

Directed by Keoni Waxman
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Payne and Claire Stansfield

I don’t think I can really say it better than the back of the DVD box, which I copy here verbatim:

“Torn from today’s headlines “SWEEPERS” is a non-stop, high-octane explosive thriller set in war-ravaged Angolia (they do in fact mean Angola). Christian Erickson (DOLPH LUNDGREN) eke’s out a living by taking on all-comers in bloody and vicious, no holds barred barefist fights but is also one of the world’s leading land-mine experts and is called in by the Pentagon when a super advanced A-6 land mineis utilised in a terrorist attack on a United States Senator.

“The rebellious Erickson has no respect for authority and refuses to help, until Bomb Squad expert Michelle Flynn uncovers a sinister and far-reaching plot to ship a bulk load of the world’s most deadly mines back to the USA, and begs Erickson for help in preventing a potential disaster in the USA.

“In the interests of national security she entrusts Erickson with only the bare outlines of the plot (as does the film, it seems), sufficient enough to grab his attention, and together they battle against overwhelming odds (three really crap South African mercenaries) as each sinister element of the conspiracy unfolds and they move ever closer to uncovering the real and totally unexpected villain behind the deadly scheme.”

Imagine my disappointment when the ‘totally unexpected villain’ turned out to be Bruce Payne, and not Pope John-Paul II after all.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, aside from everything the synopsis implies – although it is in fact wildly inaccurate in places, as well as grammatically pretty poor – the film is really dull. It’s kind of a non-start, unleaded snoozer really. It also treats its audience as if they were abject dolts, feeling it necessary to remind us every three seconds that Erickson is fucked- up because his kid got blowed away by a landmine. The weird Angolan soundtrack is frankly scary, Bruce Payne couldn’t be the unexpected villain unless you could afford to have Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken as red herrings, and the characters are all boring.

The mine also makes no damn sense – it requires power, and can be deactivated either by a concealed lever underneath or the big-ass off switch on top, and has an immensely variable effect.

What’s right with it?

Nothing.

How bad is it really?

It was so dull, I’d be pressed to remember how bad it was; which can’t be good.

Best bit?

Once more, this has no real contenders in this field.

What’s up with…?

  • The battery-powered funky mine of suckness, with its plethora of moving parts?
  • Erickson’s former outfit, the Humanitarian Knights of Chivalry?
  • Erickson bringing his son to Angola in the first place? Okay, he doesn’t mean to bring him to the minefield, but if he’s a minesweeper in Angola, for him to get custody his ex-wife must be a Nazi crack-whore or something.
  • Erickson’s personal citation from Lady Di?

Ratings

Production values: Low, low prices mean low, low quality. A few explosions, but nothing to really write home about, and shoddy editing to boot. 15

Dialogue and performances: Not tooth-grindingly bad, just utterly unmemorable. 13

Plot and execution: Zero tension, zero surprises, and every crass emotional short-cut in the book. 16

Randomness: Yeah, there’s some, but mostly the film is too dull to be random. The worst is the framing text, which tries to make out this is a serious political thriller about landmines. 13

Waste of potential: Any action film this dull could have been better. 15

Overall 72%

From the Archive – Full Eclipse (1993)

Eclipse

 

Directed by Anthony Hickox
Starring ‘Super’ Mario van Peebles, Bruce ‘Oh the’ Payne and Patsy Kensit

Tough LA cop, Max Dire (Peebles) loses his partner in a hail of bullets, only to get him back the next day, right as rain. Then the partner starts chasing cars full of gangbangers on foot, and shoots himself with a bullet cast form his lucky silver dollar.

Enter trauma councillor, tough cop and biochemist Adam Garou (Payne), who recruits Max to his team of issue-wracked cops – including the sluty Casey (Kensit) – who sleep communally, have an acute siege mentality, worship the ground Garou treads and – oh yeah – shoot up on weird shit, sprout claws and tear into drug dealers and their mistresses while shrugging off high-calibre bullet wounds.

Turns out that Garou is a werewolf – shock, horror…Oh wait, that’s his name – and is dosing ‘the pack’ with his cranial fluids to make them his little werewolfettes. Then on the night of the lunar eclipse, he plans to off them all and move on to another city. Casey goes cold turkey and dies jumping out of a high window, and come the night itself, Max faces off against Garou, who turns into a bear – I swear to God, it’s supposed to be a super-werewolf form, but it looks like a teddy bear – shrugs off Max’s silver bullets, and finally succumbs to a syringe full of silver nitrate as the moon reappears.

Then Max absorbs his power, and starts the cycle all over again.

What’s wrong with it?

In a word, it’s bollocks. The direction is stilted, the script is crappy, the cast are planks and the sound is all mumbly. The regular werewolf SFX are cheap – dodgy claws that spring from their knuckles and some facial prosthetics – and the big finale is a let down – Garou turns into a Howling-style wolf-man, but looks more like a teddy bear.

The guy is called Garou. The sign on his fucking door says ‘A Garou’ (Garou being French for ‘werewolf, if you didn’t know’).  Of course, Max’s surname is Dire, as in dire wolf.

Bruce Payne. Super Mario. Patsy Kensit.

What’s right with it?

Not much. The concept of the dodgy werewolf cop unit is okay, as is the alpha wolf offing his pack at the full eclipse. It’s just when the film moves beyond concept that it falls down.

How bad is it really?

An absolute stinker of a film. Seriously. It really isn’t even funny.

Best bit

Max sees Garou syringing his cranial fluid out, but the werewolf hears him. He drags Garou over to the mirror, and does a little routine, with ‘this is you on my brain’ in place of ‘this is your brain on drugs’. It mostly scores because you can see how they thought it would be cool, and at the same time see how it doesn’t work, and would have been cut if they weren’t so in love with it.

What’s up with…?

  • Max taking over Garou’s schtick? Garou was trusted to run these wacky units because he had a hard-won rep and like, five PhDs. Max has a badge and an attitude.
  • No one noticing that Garou leaves this trail of dead officers in his wake?
  • No one noticing – or at least no one commenting on – the rise in savage animal maulings when Garou is around?
  • No one noticing that when his silver police medal is placed in his hands, Max emits bright purple smoke?

Ratings

Production values – Shitty. The lighting is dark where is should be moody, and the sound mumbled where it should be moody. The SFX blow, and we get a real faceful of how much; none of your tease the audience mentality here. 16

Dialogue and Performances – Here’s the pitch: Peebles! Kensit! Payne! Together at last! As an opportunity for a spree killing, sure; as a movie concept, no. On the other hand, the dialogue deserves so very little more. 17

Plot and execution – A good concept frittered away on a few naff action scenes, a gratuitous shag and some needless posing in fangs and make-up. 17

Randomness – Fairly true to itself, aside from Max suddenly deciding to take Garou’s place. 8

Waste of potential – Another intriguing concept made dull. Still; at least it wasn’t the start of a long-running ‘Werewolf Cop’ franchise. 14

Overall 72%

Warlock III: The End of Innocence (1999)

WarlockIII

Directed by Eric Freiser
Starring Bruce Payne and Ashley Laurence

Nice art student Kris (Laurence) discovers that she has inherited a big old house that is due to be demolished. Ignoring the warnings of a strange old woman, she and her college friends go up to the house, where they are stalked by creepy warlock Philip Covington (Payne), possibly because one of them lets the evil out of the frozen pipes.

See, it turns out that Kris was actually born in 1643 and sent through time by her mother – a good witch – to escape from the Warlock’s attempt to sacrifice her. Now Covington needs her friends to surrender her to him, so he afflicts them with a series of nasty spells designed to make them bow to his will. Eventually, all of them give her up, and Kris is tied to the altar to be offered up, then reborn as the Bride of Lucifer to come back and rule the Earth from beyond the grave.

Not jamming on the whole deal, Kris breaks free, and kills Covington with a sacred knife her mother hid in a doll. And why not.

What’s wrong with it?

What isn’t.

The acting is crappy, the special effects not so special; the sound is poor so you can’t hear much of the mumbled exposition. Whole sections of the film make no sense, the rules of the sacrifice seem to change a whole lot, and even the Warlock seems a little unclear on exactly what it’s supposed to do. The characters are all pretty unlovable, and the fates to which they are subjected not the most imaginative in horror movie history.

The first half of the film is also pretty damn dull, with Bruce Payne sowing discord among a group of high school students: Not exactly a true challenge of his Machiavellian skills.

What’s right with it?

Bog all. I suppose that at least it’s only and hour and a half long.

How bad it is really?

They apparently couldn’t get Julian Sands. That’s how bad this film is. It isn’t much worse than either of the other two in terms of a cool, clinical analysis, but it takes itself so damn seriously and that just robs it of the brioche the others had.

Best bit

En route to the house for the first time, Kris is forced to stop by an old lady standing in the road. The old lady tells her she won’t find anything good, and she should go home. Then Kris drives on, and the old lady goes back to standing in the middle of the road. The inescapable conclusion is that the old lady just does this every time someone drives past, just for the hell of it.

What’s up with…?

  • The big sacrifice deal? Even the Warlock can’t seem to make up his mind who gets laid once the deal is done; him or Lucifer.
  • The random plumber death? There’s really no rhyme or reason for the plumber who gets killed near the beginning. He shows up to fix the pipes at an empty house, climbs a ladder and is thrown to his death by an exploding window. Then no-one mentions him again, and somehow his van gets moved and his tools end up inside.
  • Pipes of darkness? When the fairly decent stoner musician tries to fix the pipes, evil escapes. What was evil doing in the pipes? Did the witch try to flush him or something?
  • The cine-film in the nook? At once point, Kris runs into the garden but is trapped. Drawn to a light in a stone nook, she sees a cine reel of herself running across the garden, over and over again; for no reason whatsoever.

Ratings

Production values: Low. The lighting is okay and the print fairly glossy, but the direction weird and choppy, and the sound is terrible. Also, the soundtrack is this appalling eighties Goth tripe. 17

Dialogue and performance: Shoddy. The script is a mess, explaining everything poorly. This is compounded by the dire performances form the cast of wooden young things. I mean, Bruce Payne is the acting highlight, here once more in full hissy pantomime villain mode. 15

Plot and execution: Pretty damn half-arsed. A warlock chasing a bunch of dumb kids around a house, and we don’t even get any decent deaths. Plus the sacrifice makes little sense, and the whole time-travel thing is thrown in on the fly to complicate matters. 16

Randomness: Oh wait! I was sent through time when I was eleven, but I don’t remember. Weak, at best. 15

Waste of potential: Well, be honest now: This was Warlock III. We didn’t expect much. 7

Overall 70%

From the Archive – Dungeons and Dragons (2001)

D&D

“This is no game”

Running against standard practice, this film was reviewed twice, first by Simon Drake, then by myself, in a review largely rebutting both the harsher and the more generous points involved.

Directed by Courtney Solomon
Starring Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, Zoe McLellan and Bruce Payne

Review by Simon Drake

Evil mage Profion (Irons, notching up an almost unchecked level of ham) plots to overthrow the Empire of Izmar run by Savina (Thora Birch) by stealing a magical sceptre that can control Gold Dragons

Knowing the Profion will bring death and destruction to Izmar, Savina sets out to find the legendary Rod of Savrille – which controls Red Dragons – before Profion.

Enter two thieves, buffed Hero Ridley (Whalin) and wisecracking sidekick Snails (Marlon Wayans) to find the rod, with help from Savina’s expert tracker Elf, Norda (Kristen Wilson) and Ginger Dwarf Elwood (Lee Arenberg). With Profion’s men lead by mincing baddie Damodar (Payne) at every turn, Ridley’s band battle their way through mazes, deserted castles and (yup!) dungeons to get to the rod before Profion.

What’s wrong with it?

Man alive, it is poor. The opening scene involving a Dragon in a dungeon had promise and some decent effects. Then the Dragon budget was obviously used up, as they then don’t appear for over an hour.

The Plot makes no sense, leaping from one subplot to another with reckless abandon. The acting is appalling. The Izmar counsel scenes ripped of Phantom Menace. And an ending that, despite outstaying it’s welcome by about 90 minutes leaves you thinking “huh” and “Is that it?”

Even cameos by stalwart Tom Baker in a pair of Dr Spock ears and Richard O’Brien does little to haul this soggy mess out of the swamp of crapness.

Thora Birch, clearly a wise head on her young shoulders, disappears for half of the movie. Then shows up riding a Dragon for the finale (and wearing what looks like a fire-guard on her head)

What’s right with it?

To be fair the Dragons are pretty cool, when they eventually show up. And the Finale has a sky full kicking crap out of each other. There are some nice cityscapes of Izmar. But that’s about it really.

How bad is it really?

Terrible…It doesn’t even have the clunky endearing quality of say ‘Krull’ or ‘Labyrinth’. It’s just shite.

Best Bit

The fairly surprising death of the quipping black sidekick (normally immortal in Hollywood films) Snails. Although I assume this is because Marlon Wayans wanted to appear in the superb Requiem for a Dream instead.

Or the uber camp henchman Damodar (Pantomimed by a bald Bruce Payne) sashaying around in Black Leather S&M gear. There’s a wonderful scene where he has his brains sucked out (or in, I forget which) by Jeremy Irons for some reason. His grimacing at the camera whilst fighting with an obviously CGI Brain eating snake is hysterical.

Plus when he and equally camp Richard O’Brien have a staredown…I was half expecting handbags and slapping. It was like a Right Said Fred music video…With Monsters.

What’s up with…?

  • Damodar’s Aqua Blue lipstick…No one mentions it. It serves no purpose other than to make him look like some gay icon (He’s no Kylie Minogue…But he gets close)
  • Jeremy Irons. First he starts out with evil looking red leather armour. Then within half an hour, spends the rest of the film wearing a Noel Coward esque smoking jacket and screaming about “My Destiny!” while his head bulges with some alarming looking veins. Causing obvious amusement to Bruce Payne. Couldn’t the Director see he was grinning from ear to ear during Profion’s final shouty speech? Although watching the film, I’d be surprised if the Director could see at all!
  • Richard O’Brien as ‘the Leader of the Thief guild of Antius’ who challenges Ridley to “Finish the maze…Win the prize”. Ridley, who goes against type of every Crystal Maze contestant by not only succeeding, but doing it without standing for a full minute with his mouth open saying “I can’t see the crystal.” Bearing in mind this is a maze that “No one has ever survived” it looked remarkably easy.
  • The Purple three eyed monster who speaks in a cod Cockney accent walking amongst the peasant villagers, trying to blend in – he’s supposed to be a spy!

Ratings

Production values: Vary dramatically. Some great looking cityscapes, decent dragons, and magic spell ‘zappy’ effects. But mostly lame “Filmed in Romania” castles and muddy peasant villages (full of tanned surfer looking dudes and rubbery looking Orks). 10

Dialogue and performances: Weak at best. I don’t think a single person acquits themselves well (apart from Bruce Payne, but that’s for all the wrong reasons) and that includes the script writers (Topper Lilian and Carroll Cartwright…Who apparently have moved to Mexico) 17

Plot and Execution: God-awful. Limp direction. Lumpy script (presumably written in Crayon). Incomprehensible. 19

Randomness: All over the show. Characters show up and disappear without explanation (Tom Baker, Purple Cockney Monster, and Thora Birch). The film doesn’t even show the heroes – or villains for the matter – travelling anywhere, defeating the point of a so-called epic quest. Suddenly someone is doing something for some reason. Then it cuts to somewhere else and the same person is doing something completely different. Plot exposition is usually mumbled by some old mystic…Or shouted by Jeremy Irons. 15

Waste of Potential: Huge. This could have been great fun, and had a spattering of moments of promise. But sadly the fish were biting, but no one could be bothered to reel them in. 15

Overall – 76%

Review by The Prophet

Evil and overacting mage Profion (Jeremy ‘Jezzer’ Irons, hamming for the home team) plans nefariously to seize control of the Empire of Izmer when the young, idealistic Empress Sahrmmrfuhrmm (Thora Birch, apparently attempting to balance things out by not acting at all) decides to enfranchise the commoners and abandon the ages-old magical autocracy.

Dashing, mage-hating thief Ridley (Whalin), and his sidekick Snails (Marlon Wayans, as the worst thief in history) tumble on the plot when an attempt to rob the magic school lands them in cahoots with apprentice mage Marina (McLellan), and it’s off into the wilds to rescue the Rod of Savrille.

Add in a dwarf, for no good reason (then edit out the scene where he tells us his name), and an elven tracker sent first to capture, then to aid our heroes. Spice with some rescues, and Dr Who turning up as the elven clergy, then serve with a dollop of climactic dragon battle and a big side order of ham.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, it’s a Dungeons & Dragons movie made by a director who a) loves the game, and b) doesn’t quite realise what changes need to be made to make a good game into a good film. It also bears several hallmarks of first-time directing (and, frankly, first time GMing) including low levels of coherence padded with moments of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exposition. It doesn’t help that – as the DVD version shows – two key scenes were cut or never completed, and the bollocks final scene was apparently thrown in because the original was too downbeat. As a result, many parts of the film make no sense.

We also run the gamut of bad acting in this film: There’s ham (Jez), there’s camp (Richard O’Brien) and there’s wood (Thora ‘So Aptly-named’ Birch).

And Marlon Wayans’s whining quickly gets tedious.

What’s right with it?

If you don’t set out to hate it, and watch it with a song in your heart, D&D is an hour and a quarter of solid, cheesy entertainment; like a big piece of mild cheddar. Much of the ham and camp is pretty amusing, some of the acting is even fairly serviceable, a lot of the effects are fairly sweet, and the characters – if not exactly well-rounded and profound – are at least fairly likeable (well, the ones who have a character).

How bad is it really?

Not that bad. It’s never going to be a classic, and for my money is a better bet than Krull (although note that I give Krull a better rating). I used to say I prefered it to Labyrinth, but I think I may be mellowing on Labyrinth, but never on D&D.

Best Bit

Profion: I must have that Rod of Savrille. With its power, I shall be invincible.
Damodar (standing a foot behind him the whole time): What is your will?

What’s up with…?

  • Ah yes; the lipstick. Shehaaaah!
  • The Jez and Thora show? Come on guys; we know you can act. We’ve seen it!
  • Tom Baker showing up as the elven clergy to basically give Obi-Wan’s force speech? Weird.
  • The editing? The final version omits not only Ridley’s dream about the dragon hatching, but also the scene in the scroll, aka “the scene that explains everything”. It turns out Ridley hates mages as much as he does because they wiped his father’s mind when he designed a flying carriage without being of proper mage blood, and that he gets to pass through the force field because he was the first to decipher the scroll. It might have helped to know this. We also get the original ending as a deleted scene on the DVD, where Ridley just puts the ruby on Snails’s cairn and walks away. Makes much more sense.

Ratings

Production Values – Fairly swish, especially from a first time director. Some very nice dragons. Less sure about some of the costumes though, in particular all of the costumes the elves wear. 6

Dialogue and Performances – All over the shop. The script runs from the perfectly decent to the utterly ludicrous, while the acting plumbs the depths of planksville and hamborough alike, and spends a fair amount of time camping. Thora! We’ve seen you act! Jeremy! We’ve seen you not overact! Bruce…Oh, well, we don’t expect anything from you. 12

Plot and Execution – Amateurish, but less dynamically bollocks than the likes of Sanctuary and Highlander…well, any of them really. 15

Randomness – Due to crazed editing, there is rather a lot of this. For starters, the Empress (and as one 11th Hour reviewer pointed out, not calling her The Childlike Empress is purely a formality) is an essentially passive character, who should have the decency to wait around and get rescued. Having her do a bunch of stuff at the end just makes things complicated. And the end is weird as all get out. 12

Waste of Potential – One can not help but wonder what might have been with a better director to handle the ideas, budget and rampant actors. 15

Overall – 60%

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%