"What you need to understand is that I don't care about the game. I don't care about the rules."
— Jacob Kell
The fourth Highlander film, and the first one to Crossover with the television series, starring the former's protagonist Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and the latter's protagonist Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul).
An enemy out for revenge from Connor MacLeod's past starts causing trouble, and he must team up with his cousin Duncan to stop him.
Donnie Yen notably had a role as Jin Ke, an Asian Immortal, besides serving as martial arts choreographer.
This film has the examples of:
- Advertised Extra: Edge's role was heavily promoted by WWE, including a mock in-ring Academy Awards ceremony and an Entertainment Tonight segment in which Edge invited co-stars Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul backstage. Edge's screen-time totals about two minutes with two brief lines of dialogue and a single, extremely truncated fight scene that's played mostly for laughs.
- Always Someone Better: According to the Watcher database that Joe brings up, Duncan has 174 confirmed Quickenings, while Kell has 661 (and that number keeps going up).
- Artistic License – Physics: During the final battle, Kell knocks Duncan's sword out of his hands, sending it tumbling off a catwalk. Duncan leaps over the railing and jumps after it, grabbing it in mid-air.
- An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The Watcher who tries to assassinate Duncan is surrounded by Christmas decorations, suggesting this trope to be in effect. Joe shoots him and wishes him a Merry Christmas as he bleeds to death.
- Best Served Cold: Jacob Kell is peeved at Connor for killing his foster father, a Scottish Priest. Kell bides his time for five centuries before carrying out his vengeance fully.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: In the rough cut of the film, Jin Ke beheads himself during the "Last Supper" scene to deny Kell getting his powers.
- Big Bad: Jacob Kell.
- Canon Welding: The movie tries to weld the movie and series timelines (which by this point had diverged from a prequel series to Alternate Timeline status) together. For some reason they decided to retcon pretty much every major plot point from both to do this.
- Chekhov's Skill: Played with. Connor teaches Duncan a supposedly unbeatable finishing move in a flashback, and Duncan uses it in the fight between them in the present. In the final battle with Kell, he tries it again... and Kell effortlessly parries it with a dagger he had hidden up his sleeve.
- Combat Pragmatist: The reason Kell is so powerful. He didn't honor a key rule of the Game like Connor, Duncan, and so many others did; instead of one-on-one challenges, he amassed a team of Immortals to weaken his targets and then had them stand aside while he takes the heads.Duncan: It's a team sport now?
- Continuity Snarl: The movie's attempts to weld the movie and series timelines results in a lot of continuity errors, but the most egregious would be Duncan's ex-wife, despite the series itself having established quite clearly that Duncan never had, nor would, marry (the one time he intended to, with his longtime lover Tessa Noel, she was murdered shortly after he proposed).
- Cruel Mercy: Jacob Kell's goal is to make Connor MacLeod's life a living hell, killing all those close to him and keeping Connor alive until they are the last two Immortals left.
- Demoted to Extra: Methos and Joe from the TV series make small appearances.
- Devour the Dragon:
- Jacob Kell kills his mooks to gain their energy for the final battle.
- Connor forces Duncan to defeat him with a technique he had taught him in the past, and take his power so that Duncan has a better chance against Kell.
- Fashion-Victim Villain: In-Universe, on the DVD extended edition.Cracker Bob: Somebody order a club sandwich?
Duncan: Oh, he's funny, nice outfit too.
Cracker Bob (to Kate/Faith): Faith, I told you I look like a fucking orange!
- Flashback: A given for this franchise. We see such moments as Connor's revenge against Kell, Connor and Duncan's first meeting, and Duncan's history with Faith.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Unlike most of the beheadings in the films, Connor's happens very briefly, is obscured by blinding light, and the way his body falls obscures his headless corpse.
- Grand Theft Me: During the final fight, the absorbed spirit of Connor superimposes himself over Duncan's face in order to taunt Kell.
- Heroic BSoD: Connor suffers the loss of his adopted daughter and then the guilt over numerous Immortals being slaughtered by Kell at the Sanctuary because he was there.
- Holy Ground: Actually, it was ignoring this rule that led to Voodoo Shark below.
- Idiot Ball: Duncan's wedding flashback. Having previously discovered that his bride-to-be is a latent Immortal, Duncan stabs her through the chest on their wedding night without warning, triggering her immortality. Faith's horrified reaction is (ironically) the most plausible character moment of the entire movie.
- Ironic Echo: When meeting in the graveyard, Kell asks Connor "What's wrong? Don't you want to be inside me?" Connor asks him the same question during the final fight.
- Isn't It Ironic?: The trailer plays the line "I can never die" from a remix of Dragula by Rob Zombie, however, the franchise is about immortals who can indeed die, and the song is about a witch hunting grave digger with no relation to the plot of the movie.
- It Has Been an Honor: "Goodbye, Duncan, my true brother."
- It's Personal: Kell wants revenge against Connor for what happened in 1555.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: After a short discussion about honor, Jin Ke challenges Duncan to a martial arts fight.
- Losing Your Head: Carlos moves his eyes a bit after his head hits the ground.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Duncan quickly realized how stupid he had been after he stabbed Faith to make her Immortal.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer has scenes of Jacob Kell wielding godlike powers, splitting into clones of himself, and freezing a sword in mid-air. These scenes were in fact shot specifically for the trailer.
- New Old Flame: Duncan's ex-wife Faith.
- Not Quite Dead: Connor spends a good chunk of the movie unaccounted for and even thought dead. Of course, he's not.
- Number of the Beast: Kell has either 665 or 666 kills under his belt when he fights Duncan (depending on the version of the film).
- Obvious Stunt Double: It's always easy to spot Christopher Lambert's stunt double during the battle between Connor and Duncan, especially during the wide shots. In general, the stuntman is way more adept with a blade than Lambert, who had presumably not been keeping his Connor skills up between Highlander 3 and this film.
- Off with His Head!: As par for the course.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Subverted. Kell wanted to behead Connor himself, but he's not angry when Duncan does. After all, he can still claim Connor's power from Duncan and have the satisfaction of killing another of Connor's loved ones.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
- Courtesy of Joe: "Just watch."
- "There can be only one... and you're not it."
- Really Dead Montage: Connor gets one after he is beheaded. However Highlander 2 establishes that one Immortal can resurrect another under certain circumstances giving hope for the future.
- Remember the New Guy?: Faith and Kell had never been mentioned before this movie, even thought the former is Duncan's ex-wife and the latter is Connor's childhood best friend. Made worse by the fact that the series had previously stated Duncan had never married.
- Retcon: Highlander: The Series established that Duncan never married, while here, the existence of Duncan's ex-wife is a major plot point.
- Revenge Myopia: Kell doesn't care that he and his father invoked Burn the Witch! on Connor's mother first, which gave him a valid reason to attack them.
- Revenge by Proxy: According to Kell, he has been hounding Connor by killing his friends for centuries.Kell: Look back at the endless travesties of your life, and you'll see me, always there waiting in the shadows. When friends and lovers are wiped from your sight, I'm there. When those you cherish die abruptly and for no reason, I'm there for you.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In 1555, Connor killed Kell and Father Rainey (Kell's adopted father) as revenge for his mother being put to death for witchcraft. Kell becomes immortal and vows to return the favor—spending centuries hunting Connor and targeting those he cares about.
- Sadistic Choice: Discussing Faith's potential to be an Immortal, Connor advised Duncan to just let her lead a normal life instead of bringing it out. Between letting a loved one eventually die or making her a target in the Game, Connor admits he doesn't envy Duncan having the option to choose.
- Soul Fragment: When Duncan beheads Connor, he absorbs his swordsmanship skills and perhaps a bit more, judging by the morphing effect during the final fight where his face is briefly seen over the top of Duncan's.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Rachel, Connor's adopted daughter from the first film appears only to be killed in the opening as part of Kell's revenge against Connor
- Sword Plant: Duncan plants a sword as a memorial on Connor's grave.
- There Can Be Only One: As ever. Kell intends to be the last Immortal standing, though he's quite content to break the rules of the Game however he sees fit.
- Together in Death: Connor's last thoughts as he is beheaded are of Heather. Duncan completes it by burying Connor next to her in Scotland.
- Villainous Breakdown: Jacob's sanity (which there wasn't a lot of in the first place) pretty much evaporates the more Duncan persists during their final battle, as he even resorts to stabbing him repeatdly, clearly trying to inflict as much pain possible on him, while shouting angrily how Duncan's "lost his faith". Just when he recomposes himself and grabs his sword to finally decapitate him, he hears Connor's voice calling him alongside seeing flashes of Connor's face on Duncan's, leading into an Oh, Crap! moment that Duncan takes advantage of to finally kill him.
- Voodoo Shark:
- A group of Immortals live in voluntary stasis in the "Sanctuary," which is located in a large cathedral, but they are murdered by Kell. In the original theatrical version, the Sanctuary is referred to as being holy ground, but this annoyed fans of the series since it had been established that Immortals are not allowed to kill one another on holy ground (The reason for this was never clearly given, but Joe at one point implied that two immortals violating this rule may have caused the Vesuvius eruption of 79 A.D.). This rule was even followed by every villain, no matter how evil. So the line was excised from the DVD version. But putting aside the fact that it's in a cathedral, the Sanctuary not being holy ground is just as nonsensical when you stop and wonder why a bunch of Immortals opted to be put into voluntary stasis in a place where they'd be vulnerable. Or why the renegade Watchers would establish the Sanctuary on a place that was not Holy Ground. Their goal was to prevent The Prize from being won, ergo they didn't want the immortals there losing their heads any more than the immortals themselves...
- There were also multiple mentions both in the trailers and film dialogue of Kell no longer following the rules of the Game. It could have been a plot point that Kell had found a way to make the usual rules no longer apply to himself, even if it was never definitively explained how he'd managed to do it.
- We Will Meet Again: A two-fer after Connor and Kell's duel. Kell defeats him, but he vows to only kill him until some far off day when they're the only Immortals left. Duncan is also there, though, and Kell warns him he's on borrowed time.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Kell guesses that Connor's ultimate fear isn't simply losing the Game, but losing to him and having his power make Kell stronger.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: In the past, Connor had guessed that Faith (at the time known as Kate) had the potential to be Immortal and told Duncan. Duncan made the choice to bring it out so that they could always be together, but she resents him for taking away her ability to have children, grow old with a loved one, and lead a normal life (neither the films nor the series ever clarified if an immortal could conceive/sire children before they became immortal).
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: While Faith denounces him and says she'll never forgive him, Duncan believes there's always a chance for forgiveness and tells her he'll wait centuries if he has to.Duncan: That's one blessing of immortality; there's always tomorrow. Even for us.
- Woman Scorned: Faith is still pissed about Duncan killing her and making her Immortal, but deep down still cares for him.
- Word Sequel: Because the films had Stopped Numbering Sequels by this point, it is only natural.