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HIGHLANDER: THE SEARCH FOR VENGEANCE
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Starring:
Alistair Abell
Scott McNeil
Jim Byrnes

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
After surviving an ancient battle, Colin MacLeod is witness to the crucifixion of his lover and the slaughter of his people. And through many centuries, he follows Marcus, the immortal who destroyed his people, until a final battle of good and evil.
Is it good movie?
The Highlander series has always been interesting, if not always good. The many sequels seemed to make it less of an interest after awhile. So thus, they have decided to take the franchise in a different direction, and make Highlander an anime production. The question is, does it work? Well, in this tale of revenge and rebirth, I can honestly say… not so much. This dark and dreary apocalyptic world where New York has been destroyed already by a virus that has brought the weak and discarded left hiding away from the rich and the powerful. I liked the idea behind it, that the revenge of one man, Colin MacLeod (voiced by Alistar Abell) will only bring him pain and suffering. His journey of self-discovery to conquer this hate and find something else to live for is fascinating. It’s a shame that this is just a dull and dreary tale that really adds very little to the franchise. If you are a huge fan of Anime, you may really enjoy this tale of immortals battling for survival. Because, you see, the only way to kill an immortal is to cut off their head.

Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri is a strong anime director, and there are some very nice visuals in this film. But for some reason, it felt cold and unemotional. I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I didn’t find Colin’s loss of his lover touching at all. I also didn’t find his undying love to be all that powerful. I think the direction, along with the script, the lack of any real humor to break away from the deadly serious theme just made it tedious. Aside from that, there is a very, very heavy message of man’s destruction within the bounds of disease, global warming and the idea that redemption and prayer are more important than any vendetta. It all felt so dark and depressing that it lost my interest very early on. This could have been so much better if they had just lightened up a bit. I’m not saying make it a comedy. But give this dreary world a moment of hope or humor. The old ghost dude who seems not half as serious as everybody else, is given a few lighter moments. But it is not enough to keep this Quickening moving at a snail’s pace.

Yet don’t get me wrong… some of the battles that take place are quite impressive. Whether it be early Rome or the disease ravaged streets of futuristic New York. When the swords are blazing between Marcus and Colin is where the film shines. And I also enjoyed some of the history created in the film. It felt a bit like 300 at times, but it still worked. There was a very interesting atmosphere here, especially its use of color to express the modern times as opposed to ancient Rome. In fact, this is not a terrible film, and it may actually blow some of you away with its continuing saga of the Highlander. But for me… it was nothing to lose my head over.
Video / Audio
Video: The dreary future and the dreary past look great on this 1.33:1 transfer.

Audio: The aggressive and powerful score sounds fantastic as the swords clash and the blood runs on this Dolby Digital 5.1.
The Extras
The extras are very satisfactory here. We are really only treated with East Meets West: Filmmakers Crossing Borders (12:40) that really creates interest. The filmmakers talk about the creation of the film and why they went for animation. Interesting, but a bit short.

Next up is A Talk With Kawajiri (8:28) as the director talks while it is dubbed in English. It shares his love for Highlander and how he’d like to share it with the audience. He seems to be a fascinating man although I almost would have rather heard his own voice with subtitles.

We also get a Trailer (1:38) and a Teaser Trailer (.33) and finally a montage of Stills, Drawings & Studies (5:48). All are fine just not that fascinating.

And finally, we have Also on DVD previews including “Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron” and “noein”.
Last Call
Highlander: The Search for Vengeance may be the film fans of the franchise have been waiting for. It’s taken to a new level through animation recreating its world as anime. Yet, I found the dreary and depressing world to be a little too somber and a little too serious without being really involving. I didn’t really care about the characters and the messages about environment, spirituality and vengeance is bad, that I just plain lost interest. If you are ready for an anime Quickening, than this is for you. If not, stick with the original.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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