Highlander: Endgame, starring Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul, is truly one of the most action packed and exciting films of the summer. However, before one views the movie, he must except one important premise, Highlander: Endgame is not a sequel to any of the previous Highlander films, nor it is a mere continuation of the series.
For those unfamiliar with the Highlander universe, Endgame cannot be a sequel for a number of reasons. One, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) wins the prize in both Highlander 1 and 3 meaning there are no more immortals alive at the end of either film. To further complicate matters, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) star of the Highlander the Series, is portrayed as Connor’s best friend and apprentice, which totally invalidates the proposition that Connor has ever won the prize, since Duncan is now assumed to be following Connor throughout history. Lastly, the Watchers, a group of people who record the activities of immortals, is a completely foreign concept to the silver screen, and even their elevation to killer monks/meta-cops is unfamiliar to the Series.
The changing of roles for the Watchers is indicative of the Series presence in Highlander: Endgame. While the role of Duncan as warrior/moralist is still intact, supporting characters lose their significance in the film. Methos (Peter Wingfield), 5000 years old, making him the oldest immortal alive, makes only a token presence that would barely register on the radar of most new viewers. In the series, he is portrayed as the wisest immortal, who has proven that statecraft over swordplay will keep you alive. Even Dawson (???), a seasoned Watcher who has moral battles about supporting Duncan in his bid for the prize, is reduced to being a defensive coordinator for Clan MacLeod. In any case, the film spends much time trying to create a new Highlander universe, different but not mutually exclusive from the ones created by the previous films and the series.
However, Highlander: Endgame still assimilates most of the major themes of the series and the movies in this particular film. In keeping with the general concepts we expect out of Endgame the supervillian, Jacob Kell (Bruce Payne), is given a cacophonic name and a face wizened by evil and hatred, and is generally seen to be unstoppable. And, like in every Highlander film and TV show, the supervillian is soundly defeated against all odds, however, this time with a fairly, but not completely new twist. Also, just like in the series, Duncan MacLeod goes through a moral nightmare when he learns that his “brother” Connor once killed an innocent man. This new knowledge changes the way Duncan thinks of Connor, and really influences the outcome of the film. Lastly, the seriousness of each kill is the same as in the movies and series, for each immortal knows that their death will feed the mind, body and essence of their killer, so who kills them is almost as important as who they kill.
Highlander: Endgame also stands on its own as a masterful stage for some of the best fight scenes of the summer. The second scene with the attack on the Sanctuary was absolutely incredible, with monks armed with shotguns and AK-47s facing down a less funny Jackie Chan and a disguised Kell. Indeed, the swordplay between MacLeod and Kell and the following quickening is nothing short of impressive. One must also mention the MacLeod fight, with Duncan as master of form, and Connor as master of technique, making for a great show with a surprise outcome.
All in all, one cannot prepare himself for Highlander: Endgame. If you have not seen the movies or the series, there is not quite enough exposition in the film to clue you in. If you have seen the series and not the movie, you will know about Connor MacLeod, but his importance, as being the powerful immortal who killed the Kurgan, means nothing. If you have seen the movies but not the series, characters like Duncan, Dawson, Methos, the Watchers, and any moral arguments in the film will not make sense. If you have seen both the series and the films, then you will not be able to reconcile Highlander 2: The Quickening with Highlander 3: The Final Dimension, and definitely not Quickening or Dimension with Endgame. Nevertheless, Highlander: Endgame is a great film, in spite of its continuity issues. So, look at the Unofficial Highlander study guide, watch the film, and check out great prices on swords from the film at www.ebay.com.
Connor MacLeod – 500 year old immortal from original Highlander film, extremely powerful after killing Kurgan.
Duncan MacLeod – 450 year old immortal from Highlander series. Tutored by Connor, less experienced, but highly trained in Samurai katana technique and martial arts.
Dawson – Watcher who is assigned to the MacLeods, charged to follow and record their activities, instead he seeks to keep them alive.
Methos – 5000 year old immortal turned undercover Watcher, lover not a fighter.
Immortal – A person who dies a violent death and reawakens. Can die only by decapitation. Cannot have children or grow old. Maintains his age at time of initial death forever. When he dies, his accumulated knowledge and skill goes to the immortal who killed him. He can sense other immortals around him.
The Rules – Only one immortal can challenge another. An immortal cannot refuse a challenge. Fighting is one on one. Immortals cannot fight on holy ground. Most importantly, in the end there can be only one (immortal alive)…
Quickening – Supernatural phenomenon of life force energy. Present in all living creatures, highly concentrated in immortals. When one immortal kills another, the victor absorbs all the quickening from the killed immortal, resulting in a lightning storm that destroys everything in sight.
The Prize – the accumulated quickening of all immortals granted to the last immortal standing. Gives him the ability to read the minds of every living creature on the planet, as well as have children, grow old, and die. Every immortal fights for the prize.