Saturday, July 28, 2018

Film Review: HIGHLANDER III: THE FINAL DIMENSION (1994, Andrew Morahan)

Stars: 2 of 5.         
Running Time: 99 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Christopher Lambert (HIGHLANDER, SUBWAY, HAIL CAESAR!), Mario Van Peebles (RAPPIN', HEARTBREAK RIDGE), Deborah Kara Unger (CRASH, THE GAME), Mako (CONAN THE BARBARIAN, PACIFIC HEIGHTS).
Tag-line: "One man was chosen to protect all that is good. Now an enemy from the past journeys time to challenge him in the present."
Best one-liner: "There can be only one?"

HIGHLANDER III: THE FINAL DIMENSION must partake in some majestic retconning and narrative gymnastics to even justify its existence. For the uninitiated, HIGHLANDER the First depicts a challenge among immortals called "The Gathering" with the operating tag-line "There Can Be Only One."
 ...three HIGHLANDER movies. Er––make that six, and counting. Plus two television series. Live action, that is. And three animated series. And a handful of novels.

They commence beheading each other (the only way to kill an immortal) until there is indeed only one left (sorta like BLOODSPORT, I suppose, only with more immortal beheadings), whereupon the winner (Christopher Lambert's Connor MacLeod) undergoes "The Quickening" and brings balance to the force or whatever. HIGHLANDER II at least has the good sense (?) to imagine a whacked-out future scenario where aliens, global warming, and a long-haired Michael Ironside join forces to keep the plotline going. However, HIGHLANDER III––a prequel to part 2 that I'm certain no one asked for––takes a full step backward and imagines that "The Quickening" was actually a sham, because Mario Van Peebles (RAPPIN', EXTERMINATOR 2) was a top-seeded Gathering contestant who happened to be accidentally trapped in a cave in Japan the whole time, and therefore The Gathering ain't over till Van Peebles licks all the blades
wears all the samurai armor

(This ain't KAGEMUSHA)

does all the eyebrow indicating

(To be fair, he's good at it)

gets zapped with all the '80s lightning

and turns into all the birds.

His name is Kane, like from 'Cain and Abel,' which is a very artistic way of letting us know that he has a brotherly relationship with our hero, except, of course, he's the "bad one." (See also: all the other times a character was named Kane for similarly embarrassing, crypto-philosophical reasons.)

Frankly, however, we should all be glad that Van Peebles shows up to do things like 'look like Dave Navarro playing CONAN THE BARBARIAN' and––because he's been trapped in a cave for centuries and doesn't know what they are––'eat condoms.' This is probably the high-water mark of the film.

"No glove, no love" is actually said aloud during this sequence. Also, is this some kind of oblique reference to Van Peebles' father Melvin not using a condom and contracting gonorrhea on set of SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG (for which he obtained Worker's Compensation)?

Is this a good movie? No. No, it is not. There are lapses in continuity, hilariously stilted dialogue, and incomplete mattes.

We are forced to endure tableaux such as a yuppified Connor MacLeod wearing dumb shirts, playing catch, and bonding with his son

as well as redonkulously dumb drawing room flashbacks to 18th Century France that feel like scenes deleted from ANGEL, or at least HELLRAISER IV.

Not even Lambert deserves this

You're probably wondering if this is all worth your time. It's not––but it's also not entirely without value. For instance, the female lead is Deborah Kara Unger (David Lynch's HOTEL ROOM, David Cronenberg's CRASH, David Fincher's THE GAME),

a Canadian actress who probably could have achieved more mainstream success, booking romantic comedies and the like, but who chose to fully embrace the "bizarro character actress" route. She always brings an unpredictable dark edge to her roles, in the vein of a Willem Dafoe or Crispin Glover or Susan Tyrrell.

When she first meets Kane (he breaks into her museum, after hours), the blocking and dialogue play out almost exactly the same as a seminal scene from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 when Chop Top (Bill Mosely) breaks into Stretch's (Caroline Williams) radio station and, posing as her biggest fan, proceeds to intimidate and weird her out.

It's a pretty deep cut as far as homages go, though I think any fan of TEXAS CHAINSAW 2 would spot the parallel immediately.

Eh. What else? At least we get to see Connor McCloud beat the guillotine. You know, between the French Revolution, The Wars of Scottish Independence, World War I, World War II, the American Revolution, The Napoleonic Wars, etc., etc., the dude is essentially the Forrest Gump of your Western Society class, and I'm honestly surprised he never crossed paths with Bill and Ted.

I'd say that none of this is essential viewing, and I'm one of those people who will wholeheartedly recommend HIGHLANDER II.

In other words, watch HIGHLANDER, HIGHLANDER II, and then, in lieu of HIGHLANDER III, just watch the Michael Ironside Labatt Blue Maximum Ice beer commercial that was an official HIGHLANDER II tie-in.

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