When Connor Macleod sees his old friend Rachel die in an explosion, he's had it with his immortal life and the endless pain it brings him and those he loves. He locks himself inside the Sanctuary, a Watcher-organized retreat stationed on holy ground, where immortals who are tired of the game can go to forever escape it, as well as to ensure that The Prize never falls into the wrong hands. But when an old enemy, Jacob Kell, and his posse of assassins attack the Sanctuary and kill everyone there but Connor, he is forced out into the open and into battle.
Directed by: Douglas Aarniokoski
. Starring: Adrian Paul
, Christopher Lambert
, Bruce Payne
, Lisa Barbuscia
, Donnie Yen
, Jim Byrnes
, Peter Wingfield
, Damon Dash
, Beatie Edney
, Sheila Gish
, Oris Erhuero
, Ian Paul Cassidy
, Adam Copeland
. Music by: Nick Glennie-Smith
, Stephen Graziano
The two-disc set comes at about $20 new (I haven't purchased it, I may actually buy it if it comes down in price). The prices I paid for the original DVD's are as follows:
Highlander ($10.. I think it is now down to $5) Highlander II: Renegade Version ($15) Highlander: The Final Dimension ($20) (too much, I know!)
Actually, I hear that by 2002 a NEW DVD version of the original Highlander is coming (how about a nice crisp-cleaned up anamorphic widescreen transfer this time? Maybe this time it will have a WORKING stills section? etc.) That should be interesting. The HL3 (Final Dimension) DVD was really marked down in terms of extras and organization compared to the others (done by different people) and feel's far less of a collector's edition.
Of the DVD versions of the Highlander films currently out, Endgame actually contains, overall the most and best bonus footage, with an enhanced special edition version (a well packaged apology of the theatrical release, which could be said for the whole package, and in the tradition of shafting the theatre audience and rewarding the home-viewing "fans" which I suppose is a noble gesture, for the creators who admit their mistakes and keep trying, this comes as the biggest apology yet), an "early cut" (complete with numbers in the black bars, minus color correction, a few special effects missing, and plenty of alternate takes and different scenes and missing dialogue, quite interesting actually), deleted scenes (three of them), three levels of trivia (which you can play a timed version of on the "DVD-ROM" deal, using the crappy PC Friendly program.. frankly I find most "DVD-ROM" extras on these discs to be sub par and frankly throw-away, good for one go only) something I wish more DVD's had (interactive trivia games), cool interactive menus, audio commentary, two "making of's" (one of discussion of the story and characters with the cast and crew, and one of the visual and production effects with the crew), plus "sneak peaks" (trailers for several movies, most of which suck IMHO, but they're mainly cult sequels and boxed sets, so go figure, including the hilariously bad "Beowulf" and even the HL3 trailer, with an apparently dubbed line calling it the "director's cut" though it still shows the "PG-13" label at the end, strange. But I digress!), and that's pretty much it, but you get a lot of viewing time for your purchase (compared for example to HL3 which featured some pictures of other movies, the trailer, and the film itself).
So as far as DVD's go, this is a bargain. As far as HL films go, I still rank this as the "Phantom Menace" of the Highlander series. Of course that isn't entirely true.. I still find it more interesting than HL3 (which is more of a fun, watch-it-with-your-buddies type of weekend flick). I still love the fight scenes in HL3 (they just seem more brutal and less Hong Kong, fast-motion than endgame's, which is a different style and an acquired taste).
Anyhow, I think the overall impression of the deleted scenes, the alternate cut, and the "final" DVD special edition (btw, the third "morphing scene" in the final battle only can be viewed if you win the third trivia sequence, just thought you'd like to know) is probably the "most improved" we've seen a home HL release next to the "Renegade" HL 2. I still rank them the same, but this far surpasses the shallow, short, and choppy theatrical Endgame.
So in short, if you loved the theatrical Endgame (all two of you), this should be a dream come true. If you found Endgame barely tolerable, this is a good rental or it may win you over with a couple of viewings, and if you hated Endgame, this probably won't do much for you (maybe worth a free rental, on a rainy day...).
Continuity-wise, interestingly the creators (minus Russell Mulcahey, unfortunately) make up for many of the continuity errors.
They place the film (and since no titles actually say the date for the present, you can fudge it I think) in "2002" so that the events happening "10 years ago" occur in 1992 (apparently after the first episode of the series) so it won't contradict the TV series events.
Of course there are other issues such as FaithKate and Jacob KellFather Rainey events being ignored by the movies and series, but perhaps we can infer that these "dirty little secrets" are kept even from brothers (Connor and Duncan) so they would be kept from us.
In the series Duncan is "fated" never to marry. In the film he marries once, but only for one night, so perhaps we can still take that as being in continuity, although it somewhat lessons the devastation of Tessa's death in the series, since she was supposed to be the "closest" he ever came to a real marriage.
Connor still gets the shaft I think, and many comment on him looking too "old" but I think this adds to the depression his character faces. Still, he's a far weaker presence in the series, and I think even Highlander 2 treats him better. No collector can ignore the first fime, and it provides a nice contrast to this one. Fans of the series will undoubtably want this one, as it combines the characters and tries to give more "oomf" to the series framework. In fact the other films totally contradict this one (even the first one) making them irreconcilable except as "alternate universes", and only the series can be fudged into the continuity for any fan. Still, whatever others may say, I see them simply as telling different stories with the same characters, but if you are looking for a coherent timeline, it just isn't possible with Highlander, and that's something the writers, producers and directors created for themselves, for good or for ill. If the fans can put up with it (and it was nice that they thanked the fans profusely in the commentary.. hey you're welcome!), there must be something to it. It's a somewhat tricky relationship between the fans and the creators it seems, but it works for now.
Overall Endgame director's cut is better than HL3 director's cut (which is still just a campy remake of the first film anyway), but still below the entertainment value and quality of the Renegade HL 2 (seriously).
As an artsy music video, this movie probably has the most of that kind of stuff, and the fights are cool. I think the movie goes downhill at the scene where Connor appears in the Cemetery.. that's when the focus goes to Duncan and it more and more resembles a TV series episode, where everybody bows out and characters disappear in favor of Duncan's development.
In the audio commentary, the creators point out that the sanctuary is NOT holy ground in the final version. In the Theatrical version apparently it is (which really stuck in the craw of fans and continuity.. because even the evil Kurgan in the first film could NOT and neither could the supposedly more evil Kane, kill on Holy Ground, but Kell offs at least eight immortals on "holy ground" so to make it just a "secular sanctuary" makes more sense. You'd think the people who made it would have taken the precaution to bless it first though.. idiots). But it's just a movie...
There are a couple of other interesting nuances that others have hinted at or mentioned. Indeed, Kell has 661 kills and by the end he would have 666 kills (the number of the Beast in the Bible's Book of Revelation). Joe Dawson and the plotting of the "Watchers" are interesting. Are they with Kell? Are they acting independently for their own goals? Is Joe breaking the rules? Or are the others? The DVD version and especially the alternate cut make this far more interesting. The theatrical version really dropped the idea of the Watchers and forgets all about them, which really hurt that part of the story. Methos, sadly, still gets left of course.
The new ending is problematic. It's nice that the romantics in us get to see Duncan and Faith's "second chance" but this means that eventually she and Duncan will have the same problem that Connor and Duncan had (one of them has to die eventually.. will they kill each other, or will somebody else take one of them away? Same problem with Methos... the problem of having two immortals be friends, doesn't change the fact that they are still both part of "The Game"). As tragedy, it's great stuff. But the fans in us hate to see Connor die, he's the backbone of all Highlander after all. Series-only fans probably don't care as much, and in the context of the series it has to be Duncan, blah, blah, etc.
Another nuance that crops up in the DVD special edition version is that the events leading up to the "graveyard scene" especially if you pretend you don't know what's going to happen next, can give the impression that perhaps Connor is the "renegade" immortal. One can see a watcher conspiracy in favor of the good guys (Connor? Duncan? Both?) and one in favor of the bad guys (Kell). Connor at times seems ambiguous, as if he's warning Duncan secretly to "watch his back" not just from other immortals, but himself as well! Perhaps others didn't get that impression, but I thought it was another interesting wrinkle in the story that could have been pursued.
Overall, great improvement over the original Endgame in the theatres, and a great DVD package. Not the greatest Highlander film, by any means, especially for fans of the original, but something of a tragic, bittersweet remembrance of the memory. A great tragedy, and still a great blending of the series and the first film (while having a unique atmosphere of its own).
Rent it first or get it as a bargain bin title, unless you liked the theatrical version.
Review by kurgan-10 from the Internet Movie Database.