This has been one of my favourite movies ever since I saw it the first time, so you might as well prepare yourself for a very positive review.
OK : Highlander is about Conor McLeod of the clan McLeod, from the Highlands of Scotland (played by Christopher Lambert). He was born in 1518 and he is immortal. He doesn’t know this until he gets a deadly wound in battle and dies - only to live again. His fellow villagers get scared, decide that he must have a pact with the devil and banish him from the village.
After that, he meets Ramirez, played brilliantly by Sean Connery. Ramirez is also an immortal...
...and teaches McLeod everything he knows about sword fighting in the hope that one day, one of them will fight and defeat another immortal who is strong and very dangerous, namely the Kurgan (played by Clancy Brown).
The goal is to kill all the other immortals, and the only way to do that is by decapitation. They all fight against each other until the time of ‘The Gathering’, where the few immortals who remain will battle it out until finally only one remains: There can be only one.
The last immortal wins "The Prize" - power beyond human imagination.
We get to see the changes McLeod goes through from young, innocent Scotsman in the 16th century to a sad, world weary antiques dealer in the 20th century. And Lambert plays so convincingly that it’s actually quite easy to imagine how lonely a life like an immortal must be.
All the songs in Highlander are performed by Queen, and this is how “A kind of Magic” became my favourite Queen CD! The integration of songs in a period setting was handled brilliantly; I absolutely loved the "who wants to live forever?" montage, which is an absolutely heartbreaking scene.
Sean Connery's contribution was exactly as it should be: He’s hilarious and charming. Clancy Brown's performance as The Kurgan...
...was joyfully monstrous and terrifying, and Christopher Lambert was perfect in the role as the immortal Scot.
The movie is full of romance and heroism, and I must admit that I did shed a tear or two at times throughout the movie. The swordplay is also extremely well choreographed – and the fights were very believable.
Highlander makes you want to live forever and at the same time glad that you don't!
Watch out for the sequels though. As this movie states: There can be only one!!
out of 6.
Flarin says :
Well, I went into this 1986 movie - directed by the reasonably good Australian Russell Mulcahy
, whom I know mostly for his extensive career in music videos (in fact, he made the first music video ever shown on MTV : 'Video Killed the radio Star', by The Buggles) - with the best will in the world, because I deeply respect and enjoy Pussy Cat's taste in music and movies, although with rather low expectation, because I don't think Christoper Lambert can act to save his life.
However, The start is promising, with Christopher Lambert as Conor McLeod (in 1986 known as Russel Nash) sitting - for a reason we never understand - in the crowd at an overly camp wrestling match in Madison Square Garden. The wrestling match scene morphs rapidly into a deadly swordfight in the underground carpark, during which Nash beheads another dude, to whom we haven't been introduced. The swordfight is rendered reasonably believable by the obvious real-life weight of the swords which, although props, were in fact real metal and were heavy enough to make the actions realistic.
The story is very sound, and not too complicated : Conor McLeod is killed in 1536, during a battle between his Clan Mcleod, and Clan Fraser. The deathblow is delivered by The Kurgan, playing for team Fraser, making his first appearance in the movie...
...but contrary to popular expectations, McLeod wakes up again (as Pussy Cat has already detailed), the surprising reality being that he was born immortal...and here our story really starts. Lambert and the other immortals are all heading through time in order to meet at 'the Gathering', in effect the final showdown, after which there shall be only one remaining immortal, with unimaginable powers...
I must say right now that for me, the star of this movie is Sean Connery as the fabulous Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, another immortal who teaches McLeod the 'tricks of the trade', and the rules of the immortals.
An excellent character portrayal - an interesting and very amusing, believably acted role for Mr. Connery. I was amused by the fact that Lambert (French) plays a Scot with a very unscottish French accent, and yet Connery (utterly Scottish), plays an Egyptian (born 896 BC) with his native, broad Scottish accent
Connery is many, many light years ahead of Lambert in acting skills, and his presence made the film watchable, for me.
An interesting little part of the movie, without which bits of it wouldn't make sense, was removed for the American audience, apparently. This is where McLeod, in WWII, rescues a very young Jewish girl from death at the hands of a Nazi soldier...
...even though he (McLeod) has been shot a number of times. She asks "you're alive - why didn't you die" and he whispers "hey - it's a kind of magic"...
moment is that
song's raison d'être. Removing this small sequence kinda makes some aspects of the rest of the story less sensible. I suspect this (and possibly other) omissions upset the director hugely, and I shall talk more about that aspect of this series of movies when Pussy Cat and I explore and review the rest of them sequentially, here (yes, we have them all). So watch this space, folks
Anyway - McLeod adopts the young girl and when we catch up with them in 1986, she's grown up to become his assistant. Without this sequence though, we don't know who the girl actually is or the nature of the connection between them...and it's yet another visual example of mortal humans growing old(er) while McLeod doesn't age at all.
The movie flashes between various periods of McLeod's life, concentrating on the 'now', but moving back and forth in time to fill in the details and background, and progress the story as other immortals appear (and disappear) along the way.
As the film proceeds and the story unfolds, it's obvious that the real battle is between McLeod and The Kurgan...and of course they do meet and have their big battle....
...but I won't give away the ending
So : This movie is not too bad - somewhat better than I expected, but nowhere near as good as it should have been - I suspect it's a cult classic, and it's OK as a Friday night special, with chips, dip and plenty of beer...I would have enjoyed it way more in my early teens, for sure
Christopher Lambert, as ever, OK but fairly forgettable...Clancy Brown
as The Kurgan gives an enjoyably over the top portrayal as the big guy with a bit of a mean streak, and Sean Connery - well, he played the best role in the movie, for me - and his characterization gets the film an extra star. The the supporting cast were OK, although of distinctly B movie abilities, and I don't think I've seen any of the actors other than Connery and Lambert in any other movies at all, not unsurprisingly.
The scenery is fantastic, flashing back and forth between the Scottish Highlands and 80s New York - it's quite effective - and the early cycle of McLeod's Life is very nicely filmed indeed. Generally, Highlander is rather dark, almost noir-ish - and reminds me a little of Bladerunner, with it's slightly indistinct, dark backgrounds and over-the-shoulder shots of the protagonists.
Interestingly, Lambert has very poor eyesight, and while slo-mo'ing through the movie looking for good screenshots, I noticed several times that his eyes actually look in different directions. Apparently earlier in his career, he was injured a number of times when failing to negotiate stunts due to his myopia. It is said that this gives his gaze a peculiar charm.
So, with the expectation of a generous serving of beer and chips at the next viewing, I give this movie
out of 6