There Can Be Only One Good Highlander Film*…

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

For the purposes of this review, we shall be ignoring the rest of the franchise and concentrating solely on the original and best film. When I re-watched it this movie, I tried to approach it as a newcomer would and I think that I mostly succeeded.

The 1986 movie Highlander is a movie of love, immortality, violence and an awesome soundtrack. The main concept of this film is that there are immortal humans living out their lives, fighting among themselves, all the while going unnoticed by ordinary mortals. These immortals can only be killed by decapitation, so they battle it out with swords to reach the foretold time of ‘The Gathering’ where an unknown Prize will be awarded to the last immortal left alive, giving the film the tagline ‘There can be only one’.

The film introduces the protagonist, an immortal called Connor MacLeod. With the help of his mentor, Ramirez (played by Sean Connery), he must defeat the strongest of all immortals (the Kurgan) in 1985. It all comes to an exciting climax with explosive special effects and stunts.

The director created some of the best scene transitions I’ve seen in a long time, with such examples as a fish tank changing to a lake in Scotland, or going through the roof of an underground car park to 16th Century Scotland.

The sword fights (which are, let’s be honest, the main attraction of this film) are well fought and executed. In the same vein, the special effects aren’t too convincing (you can see the harness on MacLeod at the end of the film) but they have a certain charm to them and they are still pretty epic.

The Kurgan makes a great villain; you can tell that Clancy Brown (also the voice of Mr. Crabs in Spongebob Squarepants) enjoyed his role as the 3000 year old savage warrior, who rapes MacLeod’s wife (off-screen) and goes on one of the best joyrides ever seen to Queen’s rendition of ‘New York, New York’.

The rest of the casting is relatively well done. Sean Connery makes a good cultured mentor for the main protagonist (and laughably claims that he is an Egyptian while speaking with a Scottish accent). Christopher Lambert (Macleod) does a pretty good Scottish accent in the flashback scenes and makes a good complex and mysterious hero.

The music in this film is bloody excellent, with both an orchestra and Queen making appearances on the soundtrack of the movie. The orchestral pieces suit the atmosphere of the movie really well, especially in scenes of Connor’s early life. It is almost universally agreed that whatever you can say about Highlander in general, the first one had the best music by far. Queen provides some suitably awesome music for the film, which can be found in an album called ‘It’s A Kind Of Magic’. For example, ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ is possibly one of the most depressing songs about immortality ever made.

The word on the street (of Wikipedia) is that they are planning to remake this film to be released at some point this year, with Vinnie Jones rumoured to be in the hot seat for The Kurgan this time around. Hands up who thinks that sounds awful?

*Long story short, it’s this one.

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