Work is slow, so I hunkered down to watch Highlander: The Search for Vengeance this afternoon. Now I was an avid fan of the – Highlander franchise when I was first introduced to it many years ago, lapping up all the Christopher Lambert movies and even the slightly cheesy Adrian Paul series that followed. I watched the childish animated series that followed, all in order to get my fix of all things Highlander. And now the franchise holders have once again forsaken the iconic There can be only one and once again introduced a new feature into the Highlander stable.
Highlander: The Search for Vengeance an anime movie, a joint venture between Imagi Animation Studios and well known Madhouse Studios, with Imagi providing the script and the soundtrack while Madhouse produced the animation. It is directed by the acclaimed Japanese director, Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust) and written by David Abramowitz, who was also the writer for the Highlander: The Series, Highlander: The Raven and upcoming Highlander: The Source. –
The story revolves around an immortal called Colin McLeod and his never ending search for vengeance against a fellow immortal known as Marcus Octavius for the murder of his wife Moya, back on the plains of Northern England circa 125 AD. For more than 2000 years Colin has stalked Marcus, losing in battle on every occasion and surviving on sheer luck every time.
The year is 2187 AD and New York lies in tattered waste. A wasteland city, the product of war, pollution and global climate change, New York a city divided into the protected citizens and the discarded survivors left to die outside the sparkling inner fortress city. Colin finds himself amongst these ragged survivors in the midst of a deadly viral plague that is slowly killing all these underground inhabitants off. Oblivious to their plight, Colin wants nothing to do with them or their problem – that is until he learns just who is in charge of the golden inner city.
The first thing I need to say about this title is that the animation quality is sheer eye-candy fantastic. Gorgeous detail, strong colour and extremely fluid action permeate throughout this entire movie, mixing both classy CG with extremely strong 2D animation. The colour palette used is sublime, the best example of which is perhaps the cutting through of Marcus mechanical soldiers or the bullet scrapes during the intense gunfights throughout the movie.
Indeed Highlander is one long action movie, peppered with some truly remarkable and memorable action sequences, especially the sword duels over the various eras. But amongst all these moments of action, a rich story is woven and although a few of the characters such as Joe are cardboard and seem forced, the principle characters of Colin, Marcus and Dahlia get pulled off perfectly. The story is pretty much a rollercoaster ride, throwing a number of exciting bits at you, intermixed with some slow plodding, before ending off with a great ending to good movie.
The English voice actors used carry their scripts well and the soundtrack used works very well, though I must admit to being a little disappointed that no Queen music made it into the soundtrack. Queens songs have always been a staple of the Highlander franchise from the beginning, and it is a little sad that it is missing :(
To be honest, I enjoyed the movie, perhaps more than I should have because I am a Highlander fan. Viewers not familiar to the series will feel a little lost because the film doesnt go far in explaining things central to the Highlander franchise, for example the tagline There can be only one or even the Quickening itself. But the movie really is a great piece of animation, showcasing what todays animation techniques are capable of, particularly in terms of what the Japanese anime industry can produce. Perhaps not the classiest of movies ever, certainly not in the league of any major league movies, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance is definitely a great action movie than most Otaku should enjoy.
Just a note, this is a title not aimed at kiddies. There is quite a bit of graphic violence, gratuitous language, nudity and even a brief sex scene.