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Highlander at the end of Days

Dolph Lundgren has a heavy cross to bear

By Helmut Schveinhardt, Impact (UK), March 2000

Helmut Schveinhardt checks out Fallen Knight.

Though this Canadian-produced Dolph Lundgren vehicle pre-dates the Arnold Schwarzenegger release End Of Days by many months, the two films share much common ground. Both see a muscular leading man treading on unfamiliar holy ground, both see an ancient order of warrior monks take arms against the forces of Satan, both are just reflections of the much better films they might have been in other hands...

Unfortunately for Lundgren, Fallen Knight, shot under the title The Minion, gives him little chance to show off the physical prowess he exhibited in Bridge Of Dragons, nor does it give him an opportunity to display the generally unfulfilled acting potential he revealed in the underrated Men Of War. Given the worldwide following Lundgren has acquired, the film will serve as undemanding straight-to-video fodder, but that's the extent of its achievement.

Lundgren is Lucas, a member of an ancient Christian order based, bizarrely enough, in Israel. When an age-old artefact is discovered in the catacombs beneath modern New York, he is dispatched to prevent the devil's work from being done. He arrives in time to save plucky forensics expert Karen Goodleaf (Françoise Robertson) from being exterminated by the agent of a rival, Satanic order. It's established right off the bat that, despite the presence of martial arts choreographer Jean Frenette, this film isn't going to feature anything in the way of stylised action sequences. Though Lundgren remains a formidable physical presence, it's hard to see what particular skills he has to help him fight the forces of evil.

With a string of bodies in their wake, Lucas and Goodleaf are forced to leave town. Staying one step ahead of the understandably curious forces of law and order, the pair hold up with the latter's American Indian grandfather, Grey Eagle (Michael Greyeyes). The old man sees in Lucas a champion capable of fighting a darkness that threatens all mankind. The concept of a knowledge that hes been shared by ancient cultures, from early Christians to Native Americans, but this film lacks the depth to explore it. The finale takes the action back to Lucas' order's castle in Israel. There, he engages in some low-key fist-fighting and swordplay with Satan's minions. For a battle to decide the fate of humanity, it's decidedly run-of-the-mill. At least in Highlander, the concluding duel was fought on a level of mystical energy as well as steel-to-steel.

The film's technical credits are generally fine. Though shot principally in Montreal, it features second unit footage filmed in New York City and Israel, and this broadens its scale considerably. Director Jean-Marc Piche keeps the story moving, but displays little in the way of style. Lundgren will undoubtedly keep working, but needs to find vehicles that provide a greater challenge for his as-yet-untapped talents.