The Scoop: 1994 R, directed by Andrew Morahan and starring Christopher Lambert, Mario Van Peebles, & Deborah Kara Unger
Tagline: This time it’s for eternity.
Summary Capsule: Ten years after he thought he won The Prize, Connor MacLeod must confront one final immortal warrior, the entombed magician Kane!
Al’s Rating: Looks like I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue.
Al’s Review: Writing, for me, needs to start with a happy thought. Maybe it’s an actor’s performance or a scene I really want to talk about. It could be the schadenfreude of getting to tear a movie to pieces. Sometimes it’s a single joke that I want to tell in the middle of the review. It’s doesn’t even have to be that funny. It’s just gotta be something.
In the wake of Highlander III: The Final Dimension, however, I’m not sure I have happy thoughts anymore. I mean, it’s better than Highlander II, but so is body waxing. It has sword fights, I guess, but they’re so dead and empty it’s like watching… I dunno, something terrible and boring. It’s got a nude scene with Deborah Kara Unger, but—wait. I think I had a happy thought. Yup. Definitely a happy thought.
Aside from naked people, though, the only really remarkable thing about Highlander III is the astonishing, unashamed degree to which it rips off Highlander I. It’s got a monstrous, baby-eating villain. It’s got a mentor who imparts wisdom to our hero before getting his head lopped off. It’s got a captured character being driven around at high speeds through city streets. It even has a bad-guy-with-a-hooker scene, for Pete’s sake. It’s a pretty merciless theft of everything great about its predecessor, but, given the quality of their original material, maybe I shouldn’t be complaining.
The story picks up ten years after the events of Highlander, and, following the death of his wife Brenda, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) is living in Morocco with his adopted son, John. He finds himself drawn back to New York, however, when archeologist Alexandra Johnson (Unger) excavates a sixteenth-century cave that imprisoned Kane (Mario Van Peebles), the last remaining immortal. Kane is pissed, powerful, and hungry for The Prize that Connor only thought he won a decade ago.
Now, this isn’t a horrible set up if you’re trying to resuscitate a franchise that essentially ended with the first film. The reason it starts to go off the rails (well, the first of many) is that Kane isn’t just any immortal warrior. He’s an immortal warrior-slash-sorcerer. See, the cave used to belong to Connor’s old mentor Nakano, the master of illusions (ILLUSIONS, Michael!). When Kane beheaded Nakano he absorbed his abilities, allowing him access to the darkest secret arts and granting him the ability and the will to rearranage the fundemental building blocks of the universe at his whim. Naturally, he uses this to fool children, mess with Three-card Monte dealers, and generally act like a jerkweed. He can also change shape and teleport, which begs the question how a bunch of rocks kept him imprisoned for four centuries, but if you’re watching close enough to ask those questions then you probably need to get a hobby.
Not that it takes a trained eye to point out plot holes in Highlander III (it starts resembling fish in barrels after a while). The tattered, cheesecloth story isn’t even the real problem. Heck, I’d be perfectly happy to accept the massive inconsistencies and recycled plot if it was done with a hundredth of the enthusiasm of the original. Instead, The Final Dimension feels like Highlander on Ritalin. Mario Van Peebles cackles like Clancy Brown but has all the charisma of wet bread. Deborah Unger is respectably feisty but relegated to a plot device with boobs. Even Christopher Lambert spends the whole movie looking like he’s counting down to the next coffee break. It’s a zombie sleepwalk through a rehashed script done with twice the budget and none of the charm.
With that said, I don’t even really know how to finish this review. There are other bits about the movie I feel like I ought to bring up, but, really, who cares? In fact, that might be the biggest sin that Highlander: The Final Dimension commits–it’s a big-budget action flick with sword fights, explosions, and naked women and I don’t care. At all. I certainly can’t think of anything worth complimenting and yet none of it registers enough to waste energy hating on it, either. It’s a zero. A null set. A movie that just takes up space and inspires nothing. And that’s just sad.
- Released in Europe as Highlander III: The Sorcerer.
- After the debacle of Highlander II , fans rumored that this film would be entitled Highlander III: The Apology. Consequently, The Final Dimension ignores all events of the second film .
- Deborah Kara Unger did her love scenes with Christopher Lambert herself, declining to use a body double.
- At one point, Christopher Lambert walked off the production over a pay dispute.
- Kane and his lackeys are remarkably well-groomed for being stranded in a cave for a few centuries.
- Kane somehow learned to drive a car and read English. More magic?
- The insane asylum has a man wearing a newspaper hat who thinks he’s Napoleon. Really, screenwriters? Really?
- Kane’s hooker is one of the more offensive Asian characters I’ve seen in film. Just sayin’.
- The final duel between Connor and Kane is set to the beat of Motley Crüe’s “Doctor Feelgood.”
Nakano: My head doesn’t come off that easy.
Kane: No, but it does come off.
[at crime scene]
Lt. John Stenn: We do we got?
Officer: Well, we have a body here and a head over there. I suspect foul play.
Kane: After 400 years, patience is a virtue.
Lt. Stenn: Russell Nash is a dangerous man. You should stay away from him.
Alex: That’s what he said.
Alex: I know who you are. Connor MacLeod born unto the clan MacLeod in Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel. You were driven from your home in 1536.
Connor: And I cannot die.
Alex: And have wandered the world ever since.
Kane: I’ll see you in hell!
Connor MacLeod: I’ll be the judge of that.
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