A clansman to Connor MacLeod, Jacob Kell would become one of his greatest nemeses, forcing the Highlander to finally lay down his life to protect the ones he cared for.
Early lifeEditRaised in Glenfinnan alongside Connor MacLeod, Jacob Kell was Connor's greatest childhood friend. He was also a latent Immortal. He had been adopted by the priest, Father Rainey, and grew up to be a religious man following his father's footsteps. When Connor became fully Immortal after his death in the battle against Clan Fraser, Kell believed Connor had been possessed by the devil and wished to burn him. When Connor was just banished from the clan, Kell became part of a group that planned an ambush on Connor years later. When the group was ready, Kell had Connor's mother, Caiolin MacLeod, arrested on charges of "giving birth to the devil," and sentenced her to be burned at the stake.
The lure worked perfectly. Word reached Connor in Glencoe, and he immediately rode to Glenfinnan to rescue Caiolin, where he was captured and imprisoned. Ignoring Connor's pleas, Kell burned Caiolin that very night. Enraged, Connor escaped and slaughtered several of the Glenfinnan residents, including Father Rainey and Kell. But Kell didn't stay dead -- instead, he awoke an Immortal, and in a life of vengeance that would bury whatever kindness had remained in him.
A Life of RevengeEdit
The newly-Immortal Jacob Kell devoted his life to killing, taking heads at any opportunity. In his spite for the Game, he completely disregarded the Rules, and assembled a private army of Immortals: Faith, Jin Ke, Cracker Bob, Winston Erhuero, Manny Rieta and Carlos Dash. In direct violation of the Third Rule, Kell's followers swarmed upon unsuspecting targets, pinning them down so that Kell himself could take their heads with a minimum of fuss.By the time of the Gathering, Kell, according to The Watchers record, was one of the most powerful Immortals alive, with over six hundred kills to his name. He decided it was time to seek out his old "friend" Connor. Once again baiting the Highlander by endangering his friends, Kell lured Connor back to New York City and his old antique shop, home of Rachel Ellenstein. When Connor rounded the corner to see his old home and foster daughter, Kell struck, detonating a hidden explosive. Rachel died in a massive explosion, and Connor, in an agony of grief, retreated to a Watcher sanctuary. In 2004, after finding Connor in The Sanctuary, Kell told him of his next target: Duncan MacLeod. Neither Connor or Duncan were strong enough to win on their own, so Connor ordered Duncan to take his head (and therefore his power and wisdom). After a lot of reluctance, Duncan was forced to kill his teacher and friend, and challenged Kell to a final confrontation. Kell, on the other hand, killed all of his followers (except Faith in the Producer's Cut of the film). In the final battle, Duncan (with the help of Connor's wisdom) was able to defeat and behead Kell. Kell's enraged that he lost.
Kell preferred to use words, rather than trying to be physically intimidating. Kell made his intentions very clear to the Sanctuary Immortals, saying, "...I do not care about the game. I don't care about the rules. I don't even care about these pathetic souls that you keep locked away as a barrier to the Prize."
All that Kell cared about was his vengeance against Connor MacLeod, which passed to Duncan after he took Connor's head. He is a master manipulator, and the single most powerful Immortal to ever live (although this is disputed by The Kurgan being said to be "the strongest of all of the Immortals"). Before his death, he had taken 665 heads. (666 in the theatrical cut).
No other Immortal would dare challenge Kell, because he was too powerful to go up against one-on-one. Also, he is the only known Immortal to ever beat Duncan in a sword fight, other than the Spaniard Otavio Consone in 1851. Had he not allowed Duncan the opportunity to "go on living and suffer the same curse as Connor," and had he chosen to take Duncan's head, he easily could have done so.
Kell's preferred weapon was a hand-and-a half side-sword likely from the early Renaissance, with one finger ring upon each side, and a rather wide blade. He also wore a hidden wrist blade on his left arm. During the "Last Supper" sequence in Highlander: Endgame, he uses twin-shamshir sabers; this and his clothing indicates he is also familiar with Oriental martial-styles.
As for his fighting abilities, Kell effectively mixed raw strength with precision and skill. He mainly aimed to unbalance his opponents first either by vicious blows, or mentally with his suggestive speeches. This either made his foes to rush out carelessly like Carlos, or lose foot and leave an opening, like in the case of Connor or Duncan MacLeod on several occasions. His style somewhat resembles that of Grayson.
It is likely that he absorbed remarkable knowledge of fighting from the countless heads he took over time. He seemed to recognize Connor's finishing move as it was executed on him, predicted the neck-cut, and thus effectively blocked it with the hidden blade.
In earlier scripts of the movie, Kell was originally named "Jacob Kase." But the producers felt that the character's name, though not Scottish in origin, was too similar to the third movie's villain Kane. Critics of the film praised Bruce Payne's performance in the film. Billy Idol and Jean-Claude Van Damme were considered for the role of Kell.
The secret move in question was invented by fight choreographer F. Braun McAsh for the movie.