The Film: Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994)
The Principals: Director: Andrew Morahan, Christopher Lambert, Mario Van Peebles, Deborah Kara Unger, Martin Neufeld, Mako Iwamatsu, Raoul Trujillo, Jean-Pierre Perusse, Daniel Do, Gabriel Kakon, Louis Bertignac, Michael Jayston
The Premise: Retconning the Highlander franchise yet again, this second sequel finds immortal, Connor Macleod (Lambert), living in Morcocco with his adopted son, John. His wife, Brenda (Roxanne Hart), had died in a car crash around 1987. Macleod is happy, but lonely again. But contrary to his earlier belief, he’s not the last remaining immortal. An enemy from the past, Kane (Van Peebles), had been trapped in a collapsed cave in Japan for 400 years after an encounter with the young Highlander that he barely escaped. When the site is excavated by archaeologist, Dr. Alexandra Johnson (Unger), Kane and two other immortals escape and Kane comes looking for Macleod to claim The Prize.
Is It Good: It’s lazy, uninspired, unoriginal dogshit, through and through. Highlander: The Quickening was a hot mess to be sure; but it’s utter left-field bizarreness – especially the expanded Renegade Version – was inspired, with style, and campy enjoyability. Highlander: The Final Dimension aka Highlander III aka Highlander III: The Magician aka Highlander: The Sorcerer aka Highlander 3: The Final Conflict, is pure, unadulterated ripoff. The story is an ill-crafted ripoff of the first film, Deborah Kara Unger’s Dr. Johnson is a ripoff of Hart’s Brenda, and Kane is more than a blatant ripoff of Kurgan. Only none of it was done with any sort of style whatsoever aside from an upped FX budget.
I mentioned a couple of years ago in my MOD of Highlander: The Source that being a Highlander fan entailed “a certain amount of tendency toward self-abuse and a limitless capacity to overlook the distinct intentions by the producers to see just how much they can fuck over their golden goose and – by association – its fans in the name of turning another quick buck.” This film proved that over a decade before that godforsaken hemorrhoid ruined one of my Saturday nights. Yes the original film precludes any real sequel as it stood. So a retcon can be forgiven…if it’s done right. Highlander: The Series was proof of that.
Looking back on this now, though, I find myself wondering why producers Bill Panzer and Peter Davis didn’t just look to that lone success since the original and somehow tie this film into the series, which ran for six seasons and was well established by the time TFD came out. An argument about keeping the two franchises separate is moot, considering that Lambert made an appearance in the pilot episode as Macleod to help kick off the show. Quickening aside, there was room in the franchise for a filmed continuation using just Lambert, set within the rules of the series, and even the skeleton of this movie’s plot itself.
Consider this: Macleod isn’t the last immortal, as established by the series. Kane was still buried in a cave in and gets dug out. He spends time acclimating to the 20th century – but he does not, repeat DOES NOT – just fucking teleport from Japan to New York. He tracks down and fights Macleod, almost has him, Mac escapes. Macleod regroups, finds time to fall in love again, climactic encounter, Kane’s head comes off, Macleod lives to fight another day. Maybe even set up the Jacob Kell storyline from Endgame some sort of way. You lose all the stupid sorcerer bullshit, the inconsequential Lt. Stenn pursuit of Russell Nash subpot, the completely inconsequential 18th Century French countryside filler, and especially the beat-by-beat stealing of the first film’s plot, including the asinine playing chicken with the magic semis, and there’s maybe, maybe something there for a doable sequel. Regardless of how they fix the story though, Deborah Kara Unger still gets naked.
Random Anecdotes: You can see a “Bienvenue à Montréal” sign at the Newark Airport when Macleod arrives.
Cinematic Soulmates: Highlander: The Source