Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown, Roxanne Hart, Sean Connery
Directed by Russell Mulcahy
Immortals around the world fight to the death (by chopping one’s head off) for the ultimate prize.
Connor MacLeod (Lambert) didn’t ask to live forever, it just happened that he couldn’t die. The horrible fact came to be when he went to battle with his clan in the 16th century and didn’t die after being stabbed. His clansman called him the devil when he walked among them after they thought he died. After a beating, they exiled him. Centuries later, MacLeod makes a life for himself in New York City while avoiding a particularly murderous immortal who hunts him down through history.
The first impression Highlander makes is a very 80s “rock ballad” type of film. It starts off with a little bit of Queen (who make up the whole soundtrack of the movie) and an epic battle at a wrestling event’s parking garage. During flashbacks of MacLeod’s life when bagpipes and a Scottish tune might have benefited the scene, Queen is there to serenade the moment. If Highlander was going for a “hardcore” immortals-fighting-each-other kind of movie, the composition should have leaned towards instrumental rather than picking a band to be the soundtrack.
Only one immortal on the earth must be alive to win the prize. The date is unknown, so immortals live for centuries waiting for the right time. They feel it in their bones when that time is approaching, and it attracts them to a certain location where they will fight one another. Some immortals are friendly, like Ramirez (Connery), an ancient Egyptian with a Spanish taste in style, who appeared out of no where to teach Connor how to fight. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Kruger (Brown), a massive brute who seems to care about his appearance; in the 16th century, he wears armor shaped into skulls, by the 20th century he is dressed as a punk in ripped leather and studs.
One of the factors that determined Highlander as a “B” movie was the action packed fighting scenes. They drag on but only to build some suspense. The choice of weapon for these immortals are rare swords they carry around with them for centuries. After the head is removed from the opponent, everything becomes electric as the victor soaks up energy from the loser. Lightening flashes and sparks fly. It looks painful as the energy is transferred.
What didn’t do it for me was the cheesy romance throughout the movie. Forensic agent Brenda Wyatt (Hart) tails MacLeod around and puts herself in danger as a madman jumps out with a sword to kill him. MacLeod saves her life but also becomes a mystery to her. Their moonlit love scene is pretty rated “R”.
Somehow, the movie remained in the back of my thoughts and I suppose I actually liked it, thus the “B”. A few sequels and inspired television show follow this sci-fi thriller which might answer a question or two following the ending of Highlander. It might just be worth the watch to see Highlander II: The Quickening.
Photo credit: http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/02/12/rumor-dave-bautista-to-play-the-kurgan-in-highlander-reboot