Highlander III: The Sorcerer,
a.k.a. The Final Dimension
directed by Andrew Morahan
(Miramax, 1994)

The third installment in the Highlander series had one thing going for it: new director Andrew Morahan and writer Paul Ohl did everything they could to distance themselves and their story from the failed Highlander II.

To that end, they set the story in 1994; they're not saying the events of the second movie didn't occur, but since it's still 30 years away, they don't have to worry about it. They didn't mention Zeist or other planets at all. And Connor MacLeod's wife from the first film, who we are told in the second movie died of a bad sunburn, is given a new fate: eight years after the events of Highlander, a New York cop explains, the late Brenda Wyatt died in a horrible car wreck in Scotland. (They do drive fast over there, and the roads are narrow and twisty.)

OK, so if we're going with the assumption that MacLeod bested his last immortal foe in the first movie, what does he do in this one? Never fear, it's not a movie about Highlander macrame. Instead, we get flashbacks to MacLeod's early days when, after the deaths of mentor Juan Ramirez and wife Heather, he traveled to the Orient seeking wisdom at the feet of immortal wizard Nakano (played by Mako, an actor following in the single-name footsteps of Cher and Madonna). He learns a few new tricks before the evil immortal Kane (Mario Van Peebles) comes hunting. Nakano is killed, but not before he uses his magic to imprison Kane and his two immortal henchmen in a massive cave-in. MacLeod flees and goes on to become the sole remaining immortal.

Or so he thinks. Excavations uncover Nakano's cave, and the three immortals are released. While the henchmen are two-dimensional sword-fodder, Kane is upset -- who wouldn't be after centuries living in a cave without food, a change of clothes or any other of the amenities of civilizied living? And so, a new hunt is on.

MacLeod, meanwhile, is living peacefully with his adopted son and assorted camels. Learning of his danger, he returns to New York and resumes the identity of antique dealer Russell Nash. Kane comes after him and they fight.

Highlander III is an OK movie primarily because it follows the exact formula of Highlander. But, while it was very wise to avoid any connection to Highlander II, fans of the first movie really didn't need a recap. It's a shame the creative team here didn't stretch their wings a little but and try something new.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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