REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME

CAST

Adrian Paul (Eyeborgs)
Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Bruce Payne (Dungeons & Dragons)
Lisa Barbuscia (Rabbit Fever)
Donnie Yen (Hero)
Jim Byrnes (The Net: THe Series)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)
Sheila Gish (Mansfield Park)
Beatie Edney In The Name of The Father)
Adam Copeland (The Flash)

In A.D. 1555, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) returns to his former home in Glenfinnan, Scotland, to save his mother from his former friend and village priest Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne). Kell executes Connor’s mother for witchcraft. Connor kills both Kell and Kell’s adopted father, Father Rainey, and sets Glenfinnan ablaze. Jacob Kell is reborn as an Immortal, and vows vengeance against Connor for Rainey’s death. He spends the next four centuries killing people Connor cares about. Kell amasses great power by ignoring the rules of The Game; he recruits several lesser Immortals as disciples, who overpower other Immortals so Kell can take their heads. By the turn of the century, Kell has 661 Immortal kills (compared to 262 for Connor MacLeod, and 174 for Duncan MacLeod).
Ten years before the present-day events of the film, Kell orchestrates the death of Connor’s adopted daughter Rachel Ellenstein. Heartbroken, Connor departs for The Sanctuary, where Immortals are under surveillance by a subgroup of Watchers to prevent The Prize from being won.
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A decade later, Kell and his disciples attack the Sanctuary, and Connor is believed to have been beheaded along with the other Immortals there. Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul), compelled by a vision he has of the slaughter, begins to investigate. Meanwhile, Mathew Hale, the watcher supervising the sanctuary, looks on at the carnage, and decides that they will now turn to “volunteers” to refill their test-subjects’ numbers. Duncan goes to see Methos, who tells him about the Sanctuary. Duncan cannot believe that Connor would even go to such a place. He later leaves London for New York, where he goes to Connor’s loft, which was destroyed in the explosion that killed Rachel. Sensing an Immortal, he turns to see Kate (Lisa Barbuscia), his wife from 200 years before. Then Kell’s posse arrives, and fights Duncan (disregarding the rule of one-on-one combat). The fighting stops when Kell arrives, but Carlos shoots Duncan, who falls on a spike, killing him. Kell is furious with Carlos, and beheads him: as the quickening begins, a van drives up to where Duncan fell, and takes him away.
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Later on, Duncan wakes up, only to realize that he has been taken by Watchers who want to keep him in the Sanctuary so that he does not win the Prize. He is later saved with the help of Methos and Joe. He discovers Connor was spared by Kell, so as to allow the evil Immortal to make Connor’s life even more miserable. Kell wants to kill Duncan in order to torture Connor, and given the number of Quickenings he has received, this seems quite likely to occur. Additionally, Connor is too guilt-ridden by the deaths of all his loved ones to stand up to Kell by himself. Duncan later confronts Kate (now using the alias “Faith”) at a fashion shoot, and asks her why she is with Kell. She tells him how much she hates the fact that she will never have children or grow old and die, and believes that Kell understands her pain. Duncan must earn her forgiveness, or face her as an embittered part of Kell’s faction. Later on in his hotel room, Kate arrives after having a chat with Kell, and the two make love. Though it would appear that she has forgiven him, it is not the case, and she tells Duncan that she will never forgive him; Duncan tells her that it is never too late for redemption, and that he will wait, even if it takes years or centuries. p01hyw26Ultimately, Kell executes his group in a mock Last Supper to gain their powers, including possibly Faith, and Connor convinces Duncan that Connor must allow himself to be beheaded in order for Duncan to have enough power to rival Kell. After an emotional good-bye, Duncan follows Connor’s advice, and beheads his beloved clansman.
Image result for highlander endgameSoon after, Duncan and Kell engage in a final battle. At first, Kell easily overpowers Duncan, even when MacLeod attempts a supposedly-unbeatable sword move that Connor taught him. Just before Duncan’s impending death at the hands of Kell, Connor’s spirit helps give Duncan the strength to continue. Duncan then kills Kell by jumping over him and decapitating him as he turns around. Duncan absorbs all of Kell’s massive power. He then goes to Glen Coe, Scotland to bury Connor next to Connor’s first wife Heather. Kate appears and explain Duncan that Kell spared her life. Kate and Duncan share a kiss, suggesting that they will reconcile their marriage and live together forever.DuncanEndgame2This installment of the Highlander movie series is a brilliant blend of the original movie and the popular television characters. The story line is weaved through past history (as Highlander fans have come to expect) and picks up where the television series ended. It still stands alone as a movie in itself, though I will admit it may be hard for a non-highlander fan to grasp all of the concepts that are thrown at them. All in all, Davis/Panzer have once again given credit to this wonderful science fiction series by watching the details of the character’s pasts and still creating unknown events in their lives. This is the beauty of this series, just when you think you know the character something pops up from their past. This will be an emotional movie for diehard Highlander fans, just as the “To Be/Not to Be” t.v. finale was. In my opinion.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER 3: THE SORCERER

 

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Mario Van Peebles (Ali)
Deborah Kara Unger (Crash)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Raoul Trujillo (Apocalypto)
Martin Neufeld (The Peacekeeper)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)

Image result for highlander 3Some time after the death of his wife Heather, Connor travels to Japan to request training from the Immortal Japanese sorcerer Nakano. Nakano lives in a cave of Mount Niri, and has a reputation as a master of Illusion. Another Immortal, Kane, is also interested in mastering the power of Illusion and is making his way across Asia, with two henchmen in tow (Khabul Khan and Senghi Khan). They burn a village, massacre its population and eventually reach the cave. Kane defeats and decapitates Nakano, despite Connor’s attempts. The energies released during the Quickening cause the cave to collapse. The Highlander manages to escape, but Kane and his men are trapped. Their situation prevents them from participating in “The Gathering” of 1985.Image result for highlander 3In 1788/1789 in France, Connor makes the acquaintance of Sarah Barrington, an Englishwoman visiting relatives, and resembles the future Alex Johnson. The two become lovers, but when the French Revolution begins, MacLeod becomes involved. MacLeod is captured, and sentenced to death for treason against King Louis XVI of France. His Immortal friend Pierre Bouchet explains that he was tired of his immortal life, and dupes the guards into executing him in MacLeod’s place. Connor is falsely reported deceased. Believing her lover dead, Sarah marries another man and has children.Image result for highlander 3In 1994, Connor is living with his adopted son John in Marrakesh. In 1987, Brenda Wyatt, the woman he married after the Gathering, was killed in a car accident. Although he survived the accident, he still believes that “The Game” is over. In Japan, two archaeologists have excavated a cave to discover whether the legend of the sorcerer Nakano is true. One of the archaeologists, Dr. Alexandra Johnson, whose interests will lead her to Connor MacLeod, resembles Sarah.Image result for highlander 3The excavations free Kane, who sets out in pursuit of Connor, sending Khabul ahead and beheading Senghi to get his power. MacLeod leaves John in the care of his friend, Jack Donovan, and departs to New York City to engage in the final showdown for the Prize. When he arrives, he is found by Khabul: the two fight, and Connor wins. When Khabul’s decapitated body is found, Lt. John Stenn goes on the trail of the main suspect of the 1985 “headhunter” case, Russell Nash. Russell Nash was the alias used by MacLeod during the time of the Gathering. As Alex investigates a piece of cloth found on the site, she discovers that it is a shred of a kilt, with a design that designates a branch of the MacLeod family. This leads her to Nash Antiques, where Connor has returned in preparation for the battle against Kane. The Highlander is confronted on Holy Ground at a former Buddhist shrine by Kane, who challenges him. The resulting fight is a violation of the Immortal Golden Rule; the battle ends when MacLeod’s katana blade is shattered. Kane flees, and Connor decides to return to the Scottish Highlands to build another sword though his initial attempts are unsuccessful.Image result for highlander 3Alex tracks him down to give him a bar of finely refined steel that she found in Nakano’s cave with which he forges into a new sword, and the two become lovers. MacLeod learns from Jack Donovan that his son John is on a plane for New York. Kane abducts John, and holds him hostage to lure MacLeod. MacLeod meets Kane in an old church mission in Jersey City, New Jersey, and follows him into an abandoned power plant for their final battle. The Highlander defeats Kane, wins the Prize by receiving the final Quickening, and returns to Scotland with Alex and John to live out the rest of his natural life.Image result for highlander 3Highlander 3 may not be a classic like the original movie, but it is a whole lot of fun.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)

Adrian Paul and Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Mortal Kombat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (The Howling)
Peter DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
J.E. Freeman (Alien: Resurrection)
Tamsin Kelsey (The Commish)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Dustin Nguyen (Legend Is Alive)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost)
John Novak (War)
Victor A. Young (Nemesis Game)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Joan Jett (Light of Day)
Leslie Carlson (Videodrome)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Doug Abrahams (Sanctuary)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Fifty Shades Freed)
Stephen Macht (Trancers 4)
Johannah Newmarch (When Calls The Heat)
John Tench (Watchmen)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Vanity (The Last Dragon)
Tim Reid (IT)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on A Plane)
J.G. Hertzler (Staragte SG.1)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (The Brother From Another Planet)
Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery
Martin Kemp (The Krays)
Nigel Terry (Excalibur)
Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow)
Anthony Head (Buffy: TVS)
Marion Cotillard (Inception)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Lockout)

Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)400-year-old Scottish Immortal Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) has spent the last twelve years living a quiet life with his mortal girlfriend, sculptor Tessa Noel (Alexandra Vandernoot). Unfortunately, when young punk Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsh) breaks into their antiques store, he stumbles upon another uninvited guest- Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), also an immortal Highlander. Connor insists Duncan return to The Gathering- an ongoing battle where immortals fight each other to the death by beheading their opponent to take their Quickening. Friendly immortals like the Parisian monk Darius (Werner Stocker) have no interest in the violence and remain on Holy Ground to avoid the evil, corrupt, insane, angry, and power hungry immortals Duncan must face. All this, however, is in addition to Duncan’s daily hiding of his secrets from pesky cops and nosey reporters like Randi MacFarland (Amanda Wyss).Adrian Paul and Soon-Tek Oh in Highlander (1992)I always find it tough to summarize the scenario that establishes the Highlander universe, even though it is a fairly simple fantasy once you get to know it. Longtime franchise producers Peter Davis and Bill Panzer and creative consultant David Abramowitz don’t have to waste much time in setting up The Series’ introductory mythology like most shows do thanks to its parent 1986 film, but that does not mean this First Season isn’t without its flaws. Highlander: The Series spends most of the 1992 debut here trying to adhere to the original film whilst also attempting to appeal to other compatriot shows of the time like Renegade. Sometimes, Duncan is an immortal who also just happens to get kidnapped, Tessa just happens to witness an immortal murder, Richie just happens to get caught up in some immortal romance or crime.Season 1 seems to meander between reopening its fantastical roots- which actually concluded at the end of the first film- and finding an audience with one off action plotlines and crazy guest star immortals. Toss in some ho-hum police investigations and one annoying journalist, and it feels like you have bits of every other nineties television program. It also seems like the filmmakers were light on material early on, for a slew of slow and dated musical montages about absolutely nothing also have not stood the test of time. Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)I’ve complained, yes- but the irony is, Highlander as a series and its Season 1 still work damn fine. So they had to iron out a few special effects and immortal explanations. Maybe there is an uneven mix of normal real world crime storylines and charming, even glorious, period piece flashback sequences. Yes, they have to mimic the first movie while trying to establish episodic material. Yet somehow, all this and more gets done in fun, entertaining, stylized television. A few of the guest immortals do seem a bit interchangeable and even hokey in their maniacal ways, but that’s part of the bemusement. The lovely counterbalance of the tragedies, consequences, and ill desires of living forever are well played along with the beauty and value of morality, artistry, and time for those who inevitably grow old and die. Highlander: The Series may have lured audiences in the door with promises of nineties cool and wicked swordfights, but its intelligent core of immortal drama, heart, and soul win out today.Adrian Paul and Vanity in Highlander (1992)Although Adrian Paul (Tracker, Relic Hunter) has some big sneakers to fill in following Christopher Lambert, he quickly makes Duncan MacLeod his own with the perfect mix of fearless fighter and moral convictions. Yes, part of his fighting skills, suave ponytail, and immortal sexual buffness is meant to be dreamy for the ladies. However, Mac’s kickass ruthlessness against those who do wrong-whether they be mortal or immortal- combined with his sensitive ways and 400 year old hang ups appeal to all. Paul wonderfully expresses the love, loss, humor, and intelligence as well as the anger, vengeance, and violence each episode as needed. There’s no doubt MacLeod is our hero- and yet he is usually the one handing out killing blows. It’s a complicated mix with plenty of fine drama- and Alexandra Vandernoot (The Five Obstructions) is the perfect compliment to Adrian Paul. Though she can seem kind of uppity and European pissy to start, once you come to know Tessa’s artistic heart and moral fulcrum you can’t help but enjoy her and Mac’s relationship. The two have wonderful chemistry, but then you throw in illicit immortal love with mortal women growing old and dying to that romantic design and it’s dynamite. Such juicy and angst still has plenty of relatable, powerful stuff that never fades, wow, almost 20 years on.Still of Adrian Paul and Amanda Wyss in Highlander and See No EvilStan Kirsh (Invincible) is in the precarious hot young thing role as Richie Ryan, but he also proves himself more likeable then annoying here in Season 1. Despite some of the stereotypically juvenile, young love, and crime storylines in which he finds himself, Richie’s fun place within Mac and Tessa’s lives does a lot of good. He is in a way, their kid- always needing to be bailed out or protected in the ways of the world or waxing philosophical from his humorous spot in the backseat. Even over the course of these 22 episodes, however, Richie also becomes a useful ally and sounding board for each of the leads when immortality or mortality gets in the way. Sadly, the ill-used Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street), doesn’t fair so well. Her brief and needlessly stuck in the opening credits reporter Randi is absolutely unrealistic as a journalist and completely annoying in her attempted antagonizing and snooping. Perhaps more could have been done with the character in time, but thankfully, the role was dropped in favor of some  policemen and detectives. Wendell Wright’s (Benson) Sgt. Powell, Tim Reid’s (Sister, Sister) Bennett and Hugues Leforestier as Inspector LeBrun come and go too much in Season 1, but any one of them could have been fine continuing foil for MacLeod. You do have to wonder how the authorities haven’t discovered all these beheaded bodies!Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)In addition to the lovely guest appearance by Lambert as Connor “same clan, different vintage” MacLeod in ‘The Gathering’, Season 1 offers an array of sweet guest stars. Critical immortals such as Elizabeth Gracen’s (later of the spinoff Highlander: The Raven) Amanda and Fine Young Cannibals’ singer Roland Gift as Xavier St. Cloud appear in ‘The Lady and the Tiger’ and ‘For Tomorrow We Die’ respectively. We don’t get to see the late Werner Stocker’s Darius as much as I would have liked, but he and Roger Daltry’s Hugh Fitzcairn are also wonderful pieces in Highlander: The Series’ repertoire, comparing the potential of pacifism for immortals to their apparent zest for women. As much as I love Joan Jett, her appearance as the first female immortal we see in ‘Free Fall’ is one of the woefully dated examples this season. Several other guest villains and street thugs of the week do seem a little the same- especially the maniacal and crazy, if no less understandable, immortals. Again, it’s tough to not have an over the top bad guy when it is your hero befrickingheading someone per episode. A few of the French supporting players also suffer; so many seemed poorly dubbed that you don’t wonder if it would have been better to just have some French dialogue. All in all however, the guests add debut credibility this season whilst laying the ground work for the series to establish itself beyond the films: the plots and players in the Season 1 finale ‘The Hunters’ directly lead to the events in Season 2 and beyond.Adrian Paul and Christian van Acker in Highlander (1992)Although the actors do their part, the designs of Season 1 could have used some…tweaking. The Quickening effects are definitely touch and go to start. Honestly, the lightning shows generally coming at the end of each episode waver from looking extremely painful and capable of powering a village to limp, sputtering light bulbs and quasi orgasmic shuddering. Women seriously seem to get the short end of the stick regarding Quickenings, and the fashions of the time have not been kind. Oh, the unflattering gaudy shoulder pads, pleated pants, and high-waisted jeans! Richie fairs no better, with some woefully colorful New Edition and Color Me Badd cast-offs. At least most of the immortal men seem to have classic, swanky style- except some of Duncan’s sweaters, vests, and colorful blazers are a miss. However, any men who can carry off such a variety of period fashion earn a plus in my book. The Leather jackets, cozy turtlenecks, tuxedos, and fedoras here are as timeless as the kilts, cavalier coats, French uniforms, and kimonos.Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)While the MacLeod and Noel Antiques store, loft, and workshop design look just as good as the period production, it also seems a little too high end and unrealistic today. I know he is immortal and she is a sculptor, but real people could not live in such a pricey and overly designed museum. By contrast, Season 1’s opening Seacouver location seems obvious and bland- again looking like it’s a random warehouse back lot used by every other show made at the time. Thankfully, MacLeod’s barge on the Seine is just a little bit cooler. These French locations add a touch of Old World European class to Highlander. Even if I can’t quite figure the logistics of the barge, (How can one just park his boat on the Seine? What kind of codes and regulations are there for a refurbished ship? Where in the heck does Richie sleep if there’s one bed?!) it’s still a neat and unique set. Yes, Highlander: The Series’ location splits and prominence for French casting is thanks to French financing and production, but it also gives Season 1 a chance to correct its early flaws- including adjusting the opening credits and spending more time in our immortals’ pasts. Subtle connections to the original film are all that’s needed for Season 1 to find its footing- and those motifs largely come from the perfect use of Queen’s soundtrack. You can’t not love the ‘Princes of the Universe’ theme. Be honest, sometimes you just tune into Highlander just to hear the song! The somber ballad ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ also makes a few appearances- however; it’s the nonchalant use of the titular question by unknowing mere mortals that adds extra zing and panache.Fans of the Highlander franchise surely already know and love these DVDs back to front, but 21st Century newcomers will be pleasantly surprised by the exhaustive amount of features for the Season 1 set. The interface is cumbersome, I grant; but the Watcher Chronicles’ menus, additional scenes, bloopers, commentary options, full script CDs, and behind the scenes features are almost obsessive in shear amount, variety, and content. Almost every episode contains some form of extras- and more is included as the season sets progress. I can even forgive the lack of subtitles here, because someone obviously took his time in making Highlander: The Series as complete as possible on DVD. New fans, however, should be forewarned, as there are often spoilers for the entire series within the features. In fact, all the extras from the Complete Series DVDs are probably best left in a marathon viewing all their own. Adrian Paul and Martin Kemp in Highlander (1992)Highlander: The Series is best when it is about the trials of immortality- not the contemporary messes into which an immortal could get himself. Season 1 falters some when it tries for the latter, but there’s plenty of immortal angst and juicy action established here to enjoy. Longtime fans can delight anytime, and audiences looking for action, adventure, fantasy, and romance can certainly find it here. Some scenes and storylines might be too saucy or complicated for younger tween viewers, but a show that matures in its mythos and quality along with its audience while also staying young forever is tough to find. Yes, just think, Highlander: The Series only gets better from here. Start anew or travel back with Season 1 today.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Sean Connery (The Hunt for Red October)
Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Allan Rich (Amistad)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Rusty Schwimmer (Heroes)

In August 1994, news broadcasts announce that the ozone layer is fading, and will be completely gone in a matter of months. In Africa, millions have perished from the effects of unfiltered sunlight. Among the dead is Connor MacLeod’s wife, Brenda Wyatt MacLeod. Before dying, Brenda extracts a promise from Connor that he will solve the problem of the ozone layer. By 1999, Connor MacLeod becomes the supervisor of a scientific team headed by Dr. Allan Neyman, which attempts to create an electromagnetic shield to cover the planet, and protect it from the Sun’s radiation. The team succeeds, in effect giving Earth an artificial ozone layer. MacLeod and Neyman are proud to have saved humanity, and believe they will be remembered for a thousand years.
The shield has the side effect of condemning the planet to a state of constant night, a high average global temperature, and high humidity. By 2024, the years of darkness have caused humanity to lose hope and fall into a decline. The shield has fallen under the control of the Shield Corporation. The corporation’s current chief executive, David Blake, is focused on profit, and is imposing fees for the corporation’s services. A number of terrorist groups have begun trying to take down the Shield, among them Louise Marcus, a former employee of the Shield Corporation.

Meanwhile, MacLeod, now a frail old man, expects to eventually die of natural causes. As he watches a performance of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, an image of Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez appears, and induces MacLeod to recall a forgotten event of his past. On the planet Zeist, a last meeting is held between the members of a rebellion against the rule of General Katana. The rebellion’s leader, Ramirez, chooses “a man of great destiny” from among them—MacLeod—to carry out a mission against Katana. At this moment, Katana and his troops attack, crushing the rebellion. Katana orders his men to capture Ramirez and MacLeod alive and kill the rest of the rebels. The two captives are put on trial by Zeist’s priests, who sentence them to be exiled and reborn on Earth in pursuit of “The Prize.” Winning the Prize gives the victor the choice to either grow old and die on Earth, or to return to Zeist. Katana is unsatisfied with their decision, but the sentence is executed, leading to the events of the original 1986 film.

Back in 2024, Louise Marcus discovers that the ozone layer has in fact restored itself naturally, which means that the shield is no longer needed. The Shield Corporation is aware of this development, but has chosen to hide it from the general public in order to maintain its main source of profit. Meanwhile, on Zeist, Katana decides that MacLeod cannot be allowed to return, and sends his immortal henchmen, Corda and Reno, to kill him.

Marcus manages to reach MacLeod first, and asks for his help in taking down the Shield. To her disappointment, she finds the passionate person she once admired has grown into a tired old man. MacLeod explains to her that he is dying and expresses his disapproval of terrorism. Before they can finish their conversation, Corda and Reno attack. MacLeod manages to decapitate them both, absorbs their energy during the Quickening, and regains his youthful appearance. In the process, MacLeod summons Ramirez back to life.

In Glencoe, Scotland – the location of his death in the first Highlander film – Ramirez is revived. He finds himself on a theatrical stage during a performance of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Meanwhile, MacLeod has found a new lover in Marcus. He attempts unsuccessfully to explain to her the concepts of his immortality. Elsewhere, General Katana arrives in New York, the scene of The Gathering and begins wreaking havoc.

Both Ramirez and Katana soon adapt to their new environment. Ramirez’s earring is apparently valuable enough to pay both for a new suit he acquires from the finest and oldest tailor’s shop in Scotland, and for an airplane ticket to New York City. Katana finds New York much to his liking. After entertaining himself for a while, Katana encounters MacLeod at a church. Since immortals are forbidden from fighting on holy ground, they do not fight each other, but MacLeod expresses rage at being immortal once again.

Soon thereafter, MacLeod is contacted by Ramirez, who joins them in their plan to take down the Shield. Katana, expecting this, forges an uneasy alliance with David Blake, who mentions that shutting down the planetary shield would require so much energy that the planet would be destroyed. The conflict between the two sets of allies eventually leads to the deaths of Dr. Allan Neyman, Ramirez, Blake and General Katana himself. MacLeod succeeds in taking down the Shield by using the combined energies of his final Quickening from General Katana. Marcus sees the stars for the first time in her life. MacLeod then claims The Prize by returning to Zeist with Marcus.Sure the original theatrical version was bad but that was not due to the makers, it was due to a financial company that backed the production. Here (in the directors cut) is the way that it was supposed to be made. It has great action, great production value plus the return of Sean Connery. It gives some explanation as to how the competition began and it shows how Connor used the “prize” from the first film. If this had been the version that was originally released on the theater’s in 1991, It would of fared better.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER (1986)

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Sean Connery (The Hunt for Red October)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow)
Roxanne Hart (Easy)
Beatie Edney (Lost Empires)
Alan North (Police Squad)
Jon Polito (The Rocketeer)
Sheila Gish (Mansfield Park)
Hugh Quarshie (Star Wars – Episode I)
Celia Imrie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Christopher Malcolm (Labyrinth)
Billy Hartman (Emmerdale)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)

In 1985, Connor MacLeod, also known as the Highlander, is in New York City. In an arena parking garage, Connor is confronted by fellow immortal Iman Fasil, and decapitates him, upon which an energy surge destroys several cars around him. He hides his sword just as police swarm the exit to the garage, and arrest Connor.The story then goes back in time to the 16th century Scottish Highlands, in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. Connor and his clan, the Clan MacLeod, prepare for battle. Back in 1985, the police release Connor, as they have failed to get any information from him. One of the detectives involved, Brenda Wyatt, is an expert in metallurgy and recognises Fasil’s sword as an extremely rare Toledo Salamanca broadsword. Later, Connor returns to the garage to retrieve his own sword but sees Brenda is looking at the crime scene. She finds metal shards embedded in a concrete column and saves them for analysis.The scene returns to the Highlands, where the Kurgan assists the clan Fraser against the Clan MacLeod in exchange for the sole right to slaying Connor. In the resulting confrontation the Kurgan stabs Connor but is then driven off by the MacLeod clansmen. The wounded Connor is taken back to the village, and everyone assumes he will die. When he makes a remarkable overnight recovery, the village is convinced that it is the work of the devil. The villagers attempt to have Connor executed, but he is instead exiled by the clan leader out of mercy.In 1985, Connor lives under the alias Russell Nash and is a wealthy antiquities dealer. Meanwhile, the Kurgan takes up residence at a seedy motel. Connor tails Brenda to a bar, but she leaves quickly. She then tails Connor, but the Kurgan attacks them both. The fight is interrupted by a police helicopter, and everybody flees. Brenda analyzes the metal fragments and discovers them to be from a Japanese katana, dated about 600 B.C. but made with advanced technology for the era. She makes a date with Connor in an attempt to entrap him. Connor recognises the ruse, tells her to stop digging, and leaves.In the past, Connor lives an idyllic life with his wife Heather. One day, the mysterious Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez appears and begins training Connor in sword fighting. He explains that they both belong to a group of immortals, who constantly fight one another but can only be killed by complete decapitation. When one immortal decapitates another, the winner receives a transfer of power called “the quickening”. Eventually, all the immortals must do battle until there is only one left alive; the last survivor will receive “the Prize”. Ramirez tells Connor that the Kurgan, by that time the strongest of the immortals, must not win the Prize, or mankind will enter a dark age. One night, while Connor is away, the Kurgan attacks, decapitating Ramirez and raping Heather.In Central Park, Connor meets a long-time friend, fellow immortal Sunda Kastagir. They talk about the impending gathering of immortals which precedes the final battle, and they joke about old times. Brenda has by now discovered that Connor has been alive for centuries, living under false identities, faking his death every few decades, signing his assets over to children who had died at birth, and assuming their identities. She confronts Connor, who demonstrates his immortality. After this revelation, Brenda and Connor become lovers, although Connor is reluctant, following a flashback in which Connor’s wife, Heather, dies of old age in his arms. Ramirez has earlier explained that immortals cannot have children and should not get romantically involved. Ramirez reveals his Japanese katana was made specifically for him by the father of his third wife.Lupinranger-vs-Patranger-vs-Kyuranger-Patrangers-LuckyThe Kurgan finds Kastagir, killing him and wounding a man who witnessed his beheading. When the Kurgan finds out about Connor’s relationship with Brenda, he kidnaps her to draw Connor out. After a climactic battle at the Silvercup Studios in Queens, Connor defeats and beheads the Kurgan. He receives the Prize, which manifests itself as a massive quickening. Now mortal and capable of having children, Connor returns to Scotland with Brenda. Connor now has awareness of people’s thoughts around the world, and promises to use his gift to encourage cooperation and peace in mankind.

What a fine 1980s film and a chance to see the sadly missed Sean Connery at his immaculate best. Furthermore Christopher Lambert is brilliant in the lead. This is the film that started the beloved franchise.

 

REVIEW: SOUTHLAND TALES

CAST

Dwayne Johnson (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Mandy Moore (Saved)
Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Bai Ling (The Breed)
Nora Dunn (Bones)
John Larroquette (Chuck)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Cheri Oteri (Scary Movie)
Jon Lovitz (The Simpsons)
Amy Poehler (Mr. Woodcock)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Beth Grant (Child’s Play 2)
Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Will Sasso (Happy Gilmore)
Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer)
Miranda Richardson (Good Omens)
Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)

On July 4th, 2005, in a fictionalized United States alternate history reality, two towns in Texas: El Paso and Abilene were destroyed by twin nuclear attacks that triggered a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions, sending America into a state of anarchy and hysteria, as well as a Third World War (a fictionalized perspective of what the War on Terror would’ve escalated to). The PATRIOT Act has extended authority to a new agency known as US-IDent, which keeps constant surveillance on citizens—even to the extent of censoring the Internet and requiring fingerprints to access computers and bank accounts. In response to the recent fuel shortage in the wake of global warfare, the German company Treer designs a generator of inexhaustible energy, which is propelled by the perpetual motion of ocean currents, called “Fluid Karma”. However, its inventor Baron von Westphalen and his associates are hiding the fact that the generators alter the ocean’s currents and cause the Earth to slow its rotation, and that the transmission of Fluid Karma to portable receivers (via quantum entanglement) is ripping holes in the fabric of space and time.
In near-future 2008, Los Angeles (referred to as “The Southlands” by locals) is a city on the brink of chaos overshadowed by the growth of the underground neo-Marxist organization. The film follows the criss-crossed destinies of Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson), an action film actor stricken with amnesia; Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a psychic ex-porn star in the midst of creating a reality TV show; and twin brothers Roland and Ronald Taverner (both Seann William Scott), whose destinies become intertwined with that of all mankind. The Taverner twins are revealed to be the same person by the engineers of Treer, duplicated when Roland traveled through a rift in space-time, while Boxer has become the most wanted man in the world despite his political ties and his having the fate of the future, in the form of a prophetic screenplay foretelling the end of the world, in his hands.

Southland Tales is not for everybody and while some may find it pretentious, I personally found it extremely engaging and thought provoking and in my opinion is a misunderstood masterpiece