A few weeks back, while I was in the depths of despair after ranting about Highlander: Endgame, I set out on a quest with Sarah to watch a good Christopher Lambert movie. Unfortunately, no such thing exists outside of the original Highlander and perhaps Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (not having seen all of the latter, I can’t make a final decision). However, there are a lot of mediocre Christopher Lambert movies out there – the type of movie that in itself is not really good cinema, but which is a tolerable way to enjoy Lambert’s eccentric charm. I happen to like Lambert. He’s not the best actor out there, but he can be pretty entertaining to watch when he’s having fun with his roles. Basically, if he’s got his Connor MacLeod laugh somewhere in the film, it’s fairly satisfying as long as the rest of the movie isn’t too stupid. Highlander III is the top movie in this regard – it’s pretty bad, but it’s made entertaining by Lambert reprising his role as Connor combined with Mario Van Peebles doing the most delightful job of scenery chewing he could.
Then there’s Mortal Kombat, which is also not a good movie but one I cannot call bad, either. I mean, it’s basically fight scene after fight scene, but it’s based on a fighting video game. Considering the source material, I think the only real problem I have with it is that they didn’t go all gory in the violence so they could get an R rating. Christopher Lambert plays Raiden, the Chinese god of thunder, in this film, and Sarah and I quickly realized that Mortal Kombat works better as a Highlander sequel than any other actual sequel.
Basically, Raiden from Mortal Kombat is actually Connor MacLeod, somewhat aged and with immense magical power after claiming the Prize. Using his magic power, most of which is derived from the lightning-like quickening, he realized that he can pose as Raiden and do some good in the world (you didn’t really think that the actual Chinese god of thunder would appear as some old European guy, did you?). Thus he turns his attention to supernatural matters and protecting the world from Shan Tsung. For added benefit, if you can tolerate the existence of Highlander II, you can say that the Outworld is actually Zeist, which is why Raiden/Connor loses his power if he goes there. Heck, you could even argue that Kitana might be the daughter of General Katana. After all, like “MacLeod” and “Ramirez,” “Kitana” is a name that just screams Zeist.
Lambert plays Raiden basically the same way he plays Connor, so I say this works out. Sure, it means that Highlander‘s sequel has no actual immortals and little connection to the first movie, but at least Mortal Kombat is a damned sight more entertaining than any live-action Highlander sequel we ever saw.
For an added bonus, you can connect The Shawshank Redemption to Highlander and Mortal Kombat by saying that Byron Hadley was a human alias used by the Kurgan before the Gathering. The Kurgan’s gravelly voice is actually a psychological remnant of Ramirez cutting him, and thus only becomes pronounced when the Kurgan is interacting with other immortals.
These are the things I think of in my spare time.