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[R1 DVD box art.]
AKA: Highlander: Vengeance
Genre: Action, Science-Fiction
Length: Movie, 80 minutes
Distributor: R1 DVD from Manga Entertainment.
Content Rating: R (violence, language, partial nudity.)
Related Series: US live action movies and series.
Also Recommended: Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Notes:
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars

Highlander: The Search for Vengeance

Synopsis

After Colin MacLeod's wife and tribe are murdered by the ruthless Roman general Markus Octavius, Colin goes on a two thousand year odyssey to exact revenge. He gets his chance in 2187 in a post-apocalyptic New York.


Review

Ninja Scroll is considered something of a classic among anime fans, and the Highlander franchise has been entertaining goobers since the 1980's. So take the director of Scroll and hand him a project to make a Highlander movie with the insane animation talents of MADHOUSE at his disposal, and you should get an instant classic, right? Right?

Not when the product is Highlander: The Search for Vengeance, an hour-long movie riddled with cliches, token characters, a dull storyline and a sequence of flashbacks that slow what should've been an adrenaline-pumping action movie into an overdone story with only brief flashes of excitement. While the animation and dub was good, and the fights pretty cool, there was little else in this movie to keep me interested. Heck, some of the commercials during Sci-Fi's airing were more interesting than the movie itself.

Colin MacLeod is an immortal Scottish Highlander wandering a future Earth where war and global warming have made the world barely habitable. He seeks his similarly immortal enemy Markus Octavius, now the dictator of a dystopian society located in the ruins of New York city. Outside of Octavius' city are rebels who are dying of a mysterious virus, and only Octavius' doctors have the vaccine. (There's an obvious plot twist in that last sentence. See if you can find it.) When Colin learns of the rebels' problems, he must choose between selfishly pursuing revenge or helping them. I'm betting, however, he'll get to have his cake and eat it too, and along the way learn a valuable lesson about living life to its fullest. And while technically I just spoiled the ending for you, it's probably nothing you won't see coming from a long, long way off.

There are bright spots in this show. The dub is pretty darn good, even though I didn't care for the dialogue itself. Comparing Highlander's dub to Ninja Scroll's can give you good idea of how far The Industry has come in giving us quality English VAs. Scroll's dub is still good in a tongue-in-cheek way, but Highlander comes across as more professional and refined. Well, except for the gratuitous amount of cursing, but hey, Highlander is a man-movie like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. It's to be expected.

And so are the babes who prance around the screen in next-to-nothing, and when they're not doing that they're taking what clothes they barely have off. And I'll be honest- I didn't mind how they dressed, and I enjoyed it when they weren't. Yeah, I'm a geek- what else is new?

This would be a good time to mention by way of insert that the only way to kill a Highlander is by cutting off his head. This allows the movie a lot of violent creativity in the fights between Markus and Colin. Throw Colin off a three mile high tower? Sure! How about after that, he gets a sword plunged into his abdomen so hard it breaks the stones beneath his body? No problem! And after that, Markus binds and gags him to a chair, then forces Colin to watch a twelve hour Days of Our Lives marathon? Amazingly, even if Colin swallows his own tongue or somehow slits his wrists through the viewing, he will still be forced to watch twelve hours of Lives and will live to tell about it. Ew!

But all this- the quality animation, the good dub, and the fight scenes- doesn't help the movie enough in the face of a poor script. You've seen all these characters before. There's Colin, our hero, who is so consumed with revenge that his character becomes too one-dimensional to be likeable. There's Dahlia, the prostitute with a heart of gold. She reminds Colin of his wife Moya who was killed by Markus. Coincidence? Hmmm, I wonder.... And there's Joe, the token black street child who's along for the ride, though I wish he wasn't. And of course there's Markus, a megalomaniac obsessed with creating a perfect empire like Rome. They're all flat and uninteresting, like a can of soda left out in the sun too long.

The story is just as interesting as the characters (meaning "not at all"), as I've mentioned throughout this review. The hardest moments of the film for me to watch were the flashbacks about Colin and Markus' long rivalry that spans two thousand years. These flashbacks make up a third the film, slowing it down and adding nothing important that the audience couldn't have figured out for themselves.

All in all, Highlander may be good for a single viewing to kill time, but it's not something to race to Best Buy and shell out twenty bucks for. At best this is a rental from Blockbuster for a rainy night to kill time, but most likely there are better movies out there to watch. I've heard the original Highlander movie is very good- how about giving that a try?

Your typical Madhouse action flick, except not very good. What in the world went wrong? Everything but the visuals, that's what.Bradley Meek

Recommended Audience: As with most Madhouse titles, you can expect a lot of fairly strong violence, especially so with a concept based on beheadings.

To that, you also get some language and some nudity.



Version(s) Viewed: Cable television airing on Sci-Fi.
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Highlander: The Search for Vengeance © 2007 Madhouse
 
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