Plot: What’s it about?
In the realm of immortals, a force has emerged that is so powerful, no one stands a chance to defeat it. That force is Kell (Bruce Payne), an immortal who seeks to eliminate his fellow longlifers, until he is the sole survivor. Although some mighty warriors have stood in his path and fought well, Kell and his band of fighters have always won, which has left Kell to hunt down the final immortals himself, a road that now leads to not one, but two of these men. Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) has been living a more normal life of late in an effort to avoid the pain of immortal life, but he is about to be called back into the action. Even with his immense skills with his sword and mind however, his effort wouldn’t be enough to defeat Kell, so he joins forces with an old friend and brother, Duncan (Adrian Paul). So these two men take on Kell’s team of ruthless immortal warriors, all in the chance that they can advance to meet and defeat Kell himself. With so many powerful and immortal fighters in one place, all ready to behead each other, there can only be one and whomever is left, will have one hell of a battle to survive.
This dual disc edition of Highlander: Endgame offers a new version of the film, which includes juiced action sequences and a different ending. I liked the theatrical edition of this movie, but I do think this redone version is an improvement, although not a classic by any means in either cut. I know a lot of people, even Highlander fans disliked this one, but I felt it surpassed all of my expectations, which was enough to win me over. I admit that the writing could have used some polish, but the action, adventure, and production design were cool, which is what I wanted from this picture. I’ve always loved the swordfights and special effects in the series, but in this one we’re given more in terms of storyline, which pushes this one above the second and third flicks. I was pleased to see Christopher Lambert back once again, as well as Adrian Paul (from the Highlander television series) and the cast also includes Bruce Payne, Donnie Yen, and Lisa Barbuscia. I admit the acting lacks the depth I would have liked, but Highlander: Endgame delivers on the action and adventure front, which makes it well worth a look, if that’s your game. A rental is a good idea, but anyone interested should purchase this terrific release, as it contains two cuts of the film, plus other excellent bonus materials.
Back once again is Christopher Lambert, who makes his fourth straight appearance in the Highlander series. I like Lambert’s work on the whole, but I really like him in this role, as he seems comfortable in it and handles the demands well enough. His weak vision caused him issues in terms of swordplay, but Lambert looks in fine form here, if a little more reserved than normal. I admit that Lambert is no classical performer, but he looks perfect for this type of character and never slips too much, so I don’t think anyone can complain. And all else aside, who else would we want in the role Connor MacLeod? Other films with Lambert include Mean Guns, Mortal Kombat, Beowulf, The Hunted, Knight Moves, Fortress, and of course, the first three Highlander pictures. The rest of the cast here includes Adrian Paul (Love Potion No. 9, Susan’s Plan), Lisa Barbuscia (Serpent’s Lair, Almost Heroes), Donnie Yen (Satan Returns, Dragon Inn), Ian Paul Cassidy (Midnight Temptations), and Bruce Payne (Solarbabies, Warlock III).
Video: How does it look?
Highlander: Endgame is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As has become the norm for Buena Vista’s new releases, this image looks stunning and in the end, I couldn’t find much to complain about. The colors were bright, well rendered, and never flawed, while flesh tones looked natural and consistent also. The black levels are well balanced, which allows for strong detail level and no murkiness, which is important in a darker film such as this one. I was impressed on all fronts by this transfer, which looks razor sharp and shows minimal flaws, terrific work from Buena Vista here.
Audio: How does it sound?
As this one uses a lot of action and such, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is given some good potential, which it more than takes advantage of. I do think the dialogue is a little low in volume, but unless there’s a lot of activity on screen, it never poses much of a problem. Even so, I wish the vocals were a little louder and think it should be mentioned in this review. No issues with the more powerful elements however, as the surrounds thump and bump a lot here, very impressive indeed. Whether in the form of sword slashes, explosions, raging fires, or clangs of blades, the surrounds are used all the time here, one of the more active mixes I’ve heard of late. As I said, the low dialogue is a downer, but this is still an above average track and the words are still audible in the end.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This deluxe two disc presentation is a real winner, packed with all sorts of in depth bonus materials. The main attraction is the alternate cut of the film found on disc two, which offers the chance to see an earlier version of Highlander: Endgame. I was blown away by this inclusion and although the film is shown in rough form, the image is decent, given the nature of the materials. Taken right off the Avid workstation and in full (non anamorphic) widescreen, this alternate cut is a superb bonus, one that fans will be most pleased with indeed. You can also view a fifty-five minute documentary, which includes a wealth of cast & crew interviews, as well as a look into the mythology behind the series’ storyline. A very well made piece, even if slow at times, this in depth look behind the scenes is a terrific inclusion. A forty-five minute glimpse into the special effects work is also packed in here and once again, is well put together and more than worth a look. An audio commentary track with producers Peter Davis and William Panzer, editor Robert Ferretti, and executive producer H. Daniel Gross is found here also and while silent here and there, this is still a nice track, especially when Panzer and Davis comment. This set also includes some deleted scenes and in depth DVD ROM content, such as a game demo, character timeline, and a script to screen feature. Wow…and folks claim Buena Vista can’t create a dynamic presentation…