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They are immortals, destined to live forever. They must duel down the
ages until only one remains. Only decapitation by sword can release
them from there age-long battle for an incredible prize - power beyond
From the Scottish Highlands of the sixteenth century to present day New York, they fight for the prize, while the fate of mortal man hangs in the balance.
This film starred: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery & Clancy Brown
HIGHLANDER is a 1986 film directed by Russel Mulcahy, it isn't a bad movie at all, it is quite good. It is a very entertaining film to watch when you are bored and want entertaining or if you want to go back to your 80's film collection that you haven't watched for a while. This film may not be great but it is worthy of a place in your collection no doubt. I do recommend this film, but I would try and stay away from the sequels, I've heard there pretty bad (although I do have 1 & 2 on DVD) so I will probably review that on here in the future.
***/***** Could be worse, pretty good.
In the world of Highlander there exist individuals who have lived for
centuries. Each born to their own time, each having found out through
one way or another that they cannot die, unless decapitated by another
immortal. And in due time, when their numbers start to wane, there
would come a time, the Gathering, when those remaining would have to
decide, who is deserving to become the last one.
"There can be only one."
Upon its release in 1986 this film was panned by the critics, though for the life of me, I can't figure out why. This is a bold, flashy and ambitious movie. It sets out to create its own world, its own mythos, and by the end of the final fight it has succeeded. The idea of ageless beings, who don't feel the ravages of time, but can still be slain by mortal means, has always fascinated me and this film is one of the best example of the idea I've yet seen.
We don't meet all that many immortals through the course of the film - five in total, I believe - but each and every one of them feels unique and interesting. Christopher Lambert plays the eponymous Highlander and delivers a great straight man and an audience surrogate. His bewilderment in the olden days upon finding out he just cannot die feels very believable, but when the film returns back to the modern age he has visibly matured. Sean Connery plays the role of Ramirez, an early guide for Highlander and no, I have no idea why they have a Frenchman playing a Scot and a Scot playing an Egyptian playing a Spaniard. One of the film's quirks, I suppose. Nevertheless it's unintentionally hilarious, but not in a bad way.
Huge props should also go to Clancy Brown, playing the role of The Kurgan, bloodthirsty savage of an immortal, who has killed the most by the time of the Gathering. The man completely submerges himself into the role and what we end up getting is one of the nuttiest and most unhinged bad guys the cinema has seen. Yet the man is more than his rage and need to kill. He also believes in the code and wants to do the battles a certain way, which gives him an extra layer of depth.
Probably the most off-putting thing about this film is its 80s visual style. You know the one, where everything is dark and shadowed, smudged and covered in dirt. I don't know why the 80s felt the need to make us feel unclean by merely looking at the screen, but it's still there. Though, to be fair, it's not a huge problem in this film as the style fits the bleak mood of the story rather well. Aside from that the film is fine on the technical side of things. The fights are suitably impressive, the cinematography works and the story is told well, though I've heard that some people have had difficulties following it. I personally didn't have any problem, though I did see the director's cut, so perhaps that's it.
Highlander is a great film if you like swordfights, charismatic characters, bleak survival stories and the whole 80s urban fantasy style. It has a clear understanding of what it is doing and it delivers exactly what you want from it. Recommended.
Highlander to me represents everything that is wrong with movies -
cheesy acting, poor fight choreography, a share of pointless characters
and motives, a lot of plot holes and really odd directional choices -
yet for some reason I watch it every couple of weeks.
Without spoiling it, the movie deals with a group of people who are deemed "immortal" and thus cannot die unless they are killed by another immortal. The last immortal standing wins the mysterious "prize" and I'll say no more than that, but be prepared for a lot of sword fighting, the immortals weapon of choice, simply because they can only be killed by loosing their heads - literally!
There is something very charming in this film, and I can only really explain it in its pacing. This film has possibly some of the best editing and pacing in any movie. It sets up every scene well, we know who is doing what and why, it takes time to explain via flashbacks (poorly acted and shot flashbacks true!) all its concepts and meanings. At no point in the film are we ever confused as to what an "immortal" is, and it explains well concepts like "the quickening", granted these are incredibly stupid and bizarre concepts that are largely laughable, but the movie clearly isn't taking itself that seriously.
One appeal of the movie is in itself its poor approach to acting. A lot has been said about how awful the acting is in this movie, yet for some reason I find it somewhat appropriate to the whole theme of the film. In some ways it adds laughable charm. The villain of the movie is delightfully over the top making him one of the films most appealing aspects.
High art this is not, a well thought-out and developed, albeit it crappy story can always provide me with entrainment. I always recommend this movie simply because, to me at least, its a perfect example of a movie that has a silly idea, but sticks to its guns and delivers it so well. At no point does the movie ever cut its losses and even attempt to return to something conventional - and for that I have to give it credit!
Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) is banished from his Scottish
village in the 16th century after surviving a fatal injury (and thus
believed to be in league with the devil). He meets Ramirez (Sean
Connery), who reveals they are both Immortals; he becomes a mentor for
Connor, even teaching him swordsmanship. In the present day, all
Immortals are drawn together and have to fight until only one is
This very creative and entertaining 80's fantasy/adventure was created by Gregory Widen, who would later also make another excellent fantasy 'The Prophecy'. An excellent and creative mind he is, a pity he doesn't make many films or screenplays. The director, Russell Mulcahy, is a former music video director; as such, the action scenes are frantic and the film is quite fast-paced. Surprisingly, this is not a negative point here.
'Highlander' feels, in many ways, as two separate films: there is the modern storyline, and the past 'flashbacks' where most of the story aspects are detailed. The quality varies a lot between them, too.
The past is the best part. The scenes are livelier, being actually shot in the Scottish Highlands; there is a substantial amount of character development and, despite Lambert's limited acting ability, Connor truly starts growing on the viewer. Furthermore, Sean Connery lends much charm and wit as the Immortal Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (who is Egyptian but acts like a Spaniard). It is in this part that Widen's ingenuity is at its best; even the special effects, while very dated even at the time, end up being somewhat charming. 9/10
On the other hand, the modern parts take place in New York. They are often nighttime scenes, with a gloomy and dark mood that reminds more of a dystopian reality than the run-down parts of New York. The action sequences are good, but the special effects this time around end up being a negative point; furthermore, a weak supporting cast (which includes Roxanne Hart and Alan North), as well as the Immortal villain played by Clancy Brown (whose better moments are fighting Connery in the past scenes) hinders this portion of the story. 5/10
The final fight and conclusion are decent, though, and appropriately concludes the story (tying together major plot points, while leaving enough questions to light the viewer's imagination).
In both 'stories', there is a fun and often witty dialogue. Also an excellent soundtrack by Queen which includes 'A Kind of Magic' and the 'Highlander's trademark 'Who Wants to Live Forever'. This is one film that, even if not remembered as a masterpiece, will always remain a classic.
'There can only be one!'
Why couldn't the producers follow the Immortals' advice, and stray from making the awful sequels that only ended up staining the original's reputation?
Highlander is a cult classic from the 1980s with many fans and for
better and for worst spawned a franchise. It was a film that became
known for making Christopher Lambert a star, showed Sean Connery in a
mentor role and had a soundtrack supplied by Queen. But it is a film
that has not aged as well some people have hoped.
Conner Macleod (Lambert) is the Highlander in question, an immortal man who was born in 16th Century Scotland. He has lived for centuries, leading him to New York in 1985. The immortals are few in number, they can only be killed by beheading and when there is only one left they will gain the prize. By 1985 there are only two immortals left, Macleod and a brutal warrior known as The Krugan (Clancy Brown), an immortal who can spell doom for humanity if he wins the Prize.
Highlander tells it story in flashbacks about Macleod's life, mainly in Scotland as he coached by Ramierz (Connery), a 2000-year-old Egyptian immortal pretending to be Spanish as well as focus on his relationship with his wife, Heather (Beatie Edney). The other side of the story is in contemporary New York where the police investigating the beheading, a forensics officer, Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart) with knowledge about swords tries to find out who a man called Russell Nash (Lambert) really is and The Krugan who is on the search for Macleod. The flashbacks were clear in its objective, set up the rules of the world and follows Macleod and his loved ones. But the modern half of the story is much little focused with much of it on the police investigation whose affects are damped because of the flashbacks. There are moments that could easily have been cut, like a scene where Macleod meets another immortal which was just a quick fleeting scene and the character gets killed very quickly and many of the sequences with the police could have been changed to a media reaction.
The director Russell Mulcahy came from a music video background and it shows with his very stylised approach. He has a tendency to use low shots, tracking shots and there was plenty of smoke and fog effects. New York was a dark, grim city and the film has a continuous moody look, from the backalleys to the industrial sites. When we see the battle in the Highlands looked very much like a music video, particularly with the Krugan dressed in a skull. The transitions to the flashbacks are done with tricks like pans, such as from a fish tank to a loch and the screen smashing like glass to go back to World War II.
For an action film, Highlander is disappointing. The sword fighting is very slow and cumbersome for the most part and some parts were very cheesy, like the first fight where rival fighter does backflips and acrobatics. The best sequence was the very final fight sequence where the fight was shot mostly with wide shots and the action was more fluid. Cinematographer Gerry Fisher was very strong at showing the moody cityscape to beauty of the isolated mountains of the Scottish Highlands.
When Lambert was cast he had very limited English and it was made more bizarre that he was playing a Scottish character and a Scottish actor was playing a non-Scot character. In the trivia section it stated that Lambert worked with a vocal coach to give Macleod a non-specific accent, but his natural French accent was prominent. But Lambert did on occasion have a good delivery with some of his lines. Brown too was okay as the villain, having a distinctive voice and he certainly looked like a psychopath.
Queen supplied the soundtrack and that is always a bonus, giving us song like Who Wants to Live Forever and Princes of the Universe. There is a particularly nice moment in the score when uses Who Wants to Live Forever in love scene.
The 1980s has produced better films an better actioners. Highlander is by no means a bad film, but it is not an almighty classic either and it has not stood the test of time like The Terminator has.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Connor Macleod was born in 1518. After facing an evil opponent, he
survives a fatal stab wound and is banished from his village, for they
believe his survival is the work of the Devil.
Five years later, Macleod meets Ramirez, a swordsman who teaches him truth. He is immortal, and when one immortal takes the head of another, the loser's power is absorbed into the winner.
Ramirez teaches Macleod the ways of the sword, until Ramirez is killed by Connor's ultimate opponent, the evil Kurgan. Connor fights his way through the centuries, until the time of the Gathering, when the few immortals who have survived the endless battles come together to fight until only one remains, and that winner will receive The Prize, a signed copy of the soundtrack by Queen......
This has to be one of the strangest franchises of all time, and to be fair, the first movie really isn't the best thing, but what makes the franchise so popular is the notorious second entry, which is bad, but entertaining none the less.
This is a good story, and a really good narrative, but Lambert is a really boring screen presence, spending the majority of the film staring into space with his boss eyes, while people like Connery, Brown and Imrie act him off the screen.
If they had cast someone like Bridges, or even Liam Neeson, this could have been something special, rather than something that relies on a bad sequel to garner interest.
All in all, its a great story, with some reasonable set pieces, but Lambert ruins it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I saw Christopher Lambert in Greystoke, I thought he was a brilliant actor, playing a half-witted,illiterate ape man. When I saw him in Highlander, I realized that's just the way he acts. Terrible. His supposed Scottish accent was anything but....more Czechoslovakian. Then, they totally wasted Sean Connery. Connery, the epitome of a Scotsman...more Scottish than a bagpipe...played a...Spanish fop??? His character, Ramirez, was decked out in a musketeer outfit with peacock feathers. Still, Connery looked great......big, strong, ..but completely wasted in his silly character. Then, what is it with the immortals immune to everything but decapitation? Wouldn't the sword fights between immortals be all about lopping of their heads? Yet whenever one of the immortals gets stabbed in the chest, they stumble and hunch over,momentarily stunned. Wouldn't you think the next blow would be a head chop? No...the other guy always looks on and waits until his opponent recovers. Pretty dumb.
This movie definitely has some good things going for it. It has been produced on a lavish budget for one thing and features some excellent performances from the stars and support cast. The direction has some moments of inspiration too, the pacing is reasonably fast and the location footage often strikes a height that is photographically awesome. Where the movie principally falls down is in its script -- a muddled affair in the "anti" tradition. In days long gone by, movies used to go way, way out of their way to avoid offending people. But those days are long past. This movie is obviously an anti-New York work. New York's police and citizens are presented as a grubby bunch, amusing but low. However, New Yorkers get off lightly compared to the Scots who are presented as an unholy rabble of fighting-mad idiots. Interestingly, some of the locations used here are very reminiscent of those in "I Know Where I'm Going". But whereas Michael Powell's approach is both romantically moody and appealing, there is no trace of romance here at all!
In the ages long past we were introduced to the concept of immortal
swordsmen battling each other throughout time..A unique and engaging story
of action/romance..At the time I first saw Highlander I remember dreaming
being immortal..What it would be like and all but now being immortal has
become way too commercial...I for one am still a big Highlander fan...Yet I
think the producers aren't as interested in their own creation as they once
were or else they would have paid more attention to detail with Both the
series and the movies...
HIGHLANDER-The rules are set...The story well written -Thus begins the epic battle between good and evil that has taken three sequels and three TV Series' to screw up all the continuity...
HIGHLANDER 2-Space talk-Alien immortals-Future setting-Then came the fan outcry and a new version..a Renegade Version
HIGHLANDER 3-Time traveling wizards-talking severed heads-Fighting on holy ground...Ignores the second film....
HIGHLANDER 4-Merging tv show with the films..Inconsistant dates...Connor Maclead film hero dies in the present also ignoring 2 & 3
HIGHLANDER/TV-Ignored all but the first film... HIGHLANDER/RAVEN/TV-The quickening happens when a mortal man kills an immortal...
HIGHLANDER/CARTOON-No head chopping-Quickenings can somehow be passed on and are self induced(Hinted at in H3)-Alien planet again-Prt. 2
This immortal series somehow manages to stay strong despite all of the continuity problems...The producers hear the fan outcry and tries to fix the problems with previous films only to create even more problems with each new sequel/new tv show/cartoon...If it aint broken don't fix it...All in all Highlander means well and is a good concept but the storyline's execution poor....
An immortal classic, no pun intended. Highlander gets better every time I see it. Lambert is awesome in the intro, hiding sinisterly in the shadows. You're not quite sure if he's the good guy or the bad guy. And Clancy Brown plays one of the all time greatest screen villians: Kurgan. Kurgan is a sight to behold in his black knight getup atop his black steed. He's more intense than Lambert. The back and forth storytelling keeps you extremely interested in the movie. I love the final showdown between Kurgan and MacLeod, especially the scene where he stops Kurgen's sword from splitting Brenda in two. Lambert has the all-time best laugh ever. Highlander is a great flick even today.
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