(a.k.a. HIGHLANDER: VENGEANCE)
Oh dear, where do I start?
I'm not terribly familiar with the HIGHLANDER films or what the concept has become over the course of their many sequels. I've only seen the original film with Lambert and Connery, and it didn't do much for me, I'm afraid.
As for Japanese Anime (yes, this latest addition to the HIGHLANDER series is - bizarrely - animated, and directed by the guy who brought you THE ANIMATRIX)? Again, it's something I've never been interested enough to learn about.
Oh, and I've never been taken in a big way with sci-fi ...
So, it is with more than a fair share of ignorance that I took a look at this disc ...
The film kicks off with a text introduction, telling us that "after a century of terrorism and global warming, the earth has fallen into chaos and decay ...". The text goes on to emphasise that the story is set in lawless times of the future, where death comes all to easy ... for some.
Including hero Colin MacLeod (voiced here by Alistair Abell, SISTERS), it would seem, who at the beginning of the picture is dead.
Flitting between the past and future, we follow Colin's tribulations as he searches for the evil Marcus Octavius (Zachary Samuels), who killed his wife Moya in a bloody battle back in the 16th Century.
Colin's travels are overseen by the amusing priest Amergan (Scott McNeil), a side-kick of sorts. The time-travel leads the immortal Colin to New York City, post-apocalypse in the year 2187.
Here he meets rebel leader Dhalia (Eid Lakis), who vows to help Colin (obsessed with the notion of revenge upon Marcus) if our hero promises to help her people in return. We learn that Colin has confronted Marcus on various battlefields throughout history, but is yet to get the result he craves ...
Many bloody battles ensue, bombarding the viewer with much frequency, leaving me a little perplexed as to what the Hell was going on ... but quietly impressed with the colourful old-school animation and gory swordplay before my eyes.
The script is claptrap, of course, but then I suspect people don't go into things like this looking for that? If it's fast-paced action with a heavy sci-fi slant (much more than I ever recall the original film having) that you're after, then this may well sate your desires.
Some of the voicing is curiously ill-fitting, although Abell pulls of MacLeod's skulky demeanour fairly well. The animation, as mentioned, is simple, colourful and comic bookish - nothing outstanding or original, but suiting the old-school action dynamics of the confused screenplay nevertheless.
Not a film I'd revisit in honesty, I found it all quite baffling. There's nothing memorable in here and I suspect fans of Manga will find it all a bit tame, both viscerally and conceptually.
Mildly diverting stuff.
The film is presented in an uncut anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer which looks great - pin-sharp graphics and bold, vivid colours bring the movie to life.
English audio is available in both 2.0 and 5.1 mixes, and both providing rousing soundtracks that enhance the non-stop onscreen mayhem.
There's an attractive animated main menu on the disc that gives way to some less impressive sub-menu pages, which include access to the aforementioned audio options and some interesting extras.
First up is a featurette entitled "East Meets West: Filmmakers Crossing Borders". Self-explanatory, a loose telling of how the production came to be, including interviews with the makers intercut with numerous scenes from the completed film. It's an interesting insight at 13 minutes in length.
Next up is a 9-minute interview with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, THE ANIMATRIX) which is voiced over in English. This is dull to look at, but budding anime filmmakers may glean something from it.
"Stills, drawings and studies" is 6 minutes worth of attractive storyboards and animation, professionally presented and set to a rousing score.
The "original teaser by Madhouse" is a frenetic 39-second trailer, which is pretty good in it's own throwaway fashion.
Finally we get trailers for NINJA SCROLL, GITS1, GITS2, BLOOD THE LAST VAMPIRE, MANGA ATTACKS!, TACTICS and NOEIN.
An odd addition to the HIGHLANDER series for many, I'm sure. But not bad - even if this is the opinion of the ignorant. Sorry!
The disc serves the film well though ...
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Manga Entertainment|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|