Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Highlander 3: The Sorcerer


Directed by: Andrew Morahan
Screenplay: Paul Ohl
Starring: Christopher Lambert, Mario Van Peebles, Deborah Kara Unger & Mako

The original Highlander is a stone cold classic. It still holds up over twenty years later and is an almost pitch perfect amalgamation of fantasy, 80s styling and break neck action. Buoyed by fine performances, crisp and creative direction from Russell Mulcahy, one awesome bad guy and an ending that pretty much wrapped everything up neatly it is, as said, a classic. But having gained cult status and made a ton of money an inevitable slew of mish-mash sequels and a long running TV show ensued. Highlander 3 is by no means as good as the original but it is actually one of the more enjoyable of the various sequels and spin-offs. Made as a sort of apology for the disaster that was Highlander 2 (which seemingly tried to destroy everything that was great about the original), Highlander 3 is certainly schlocky and not as stylish as Part 1 but is still a fun, action packed Highlander story.

Ignoring the events of Highlander 2 completely, Highlander 3 picks up some years after the events of Highlander. It seems Connor MacLeod (Lambert) wasn’t the last immortal after all and there are still a few roaming the earth looking to claim his head as the ultimate prize. Not least, the mad and bad Kane (Van Peebles) an all but carbon copy of the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) from the original. He wants MacLeod’s head while MacLeod just wants to be left alone to live with his son and romance pretty lady Alex (Kara Unger) who may just be the reincarnation of his long lost love (or somebody that looks a lot like her anyway). So after a nostalgic trip to Scotland, MacLeod, whether he wants to or not, must get back down to the head lopping business.

Van Peebles' over-the-top villain isn’t the only thing that is strikingly similar to the original as this instalment pretty much plays like a re-hash of the first film: right down to Kane driving a car crazily much like the Kurgan did. No doubt in an attempt to make up for Highlander 2, the filmmakers stuck so closely to the successful elements of the first film they ended up just making another version of it: only less good. Fair enough I suppose as it’s much better than Part 2 and the following sequels and a lot more fun that the TV series. Van Peebles, despite just playing the Kurgan.2, is also a blast (but, obviously, not as good as Clancy Brown) and while Lambert looks noticeably tired in this instalment (presumably getting a bit fed up with all the Highlander shenanigans) is still good as Macleod, playing him here as a more experienced and slightly bitter version of his character from the first film.

The action isn’t bad either, delivered regularly with a lot of bang for your buck. Mucho sword fighting and crazy pyrotechnics all delivered with Hollywood efficiency, as things well and truly blow up whenever an immortal loses his head. The final showdown between Lambert and Van Peebles is efficiently punchy and sword wielding and features a neat gag where Van Peebles gets his legs cut off which then have to come running back to him so he can rejoin himself and carry on fighting. Cool! The flick, much like the original, has a sense of humour about proceedings, though the tone and story does swerve here, there and everywhere.

Not great and will forever be overshadowed by the original, Highlander 3 is still enjoyable and passable entertainment that hits the action beats well and has just enough of what made the original great to make it a semi decent, if pointless, sequel.

No comments: