Directed by: Russell Mulcahy
Starring: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery & Clancy Brown
Running time: 1hr 56mins
During a fierce sword battle in the 1500s, Connor MacLeod, a simple Scotsman known as a poor fighter, is mortally wounded — but he does not die. MacLeod learns from the mysterious Ramírez that he is of a race of immortals. These rare knights never age and never reproduce, they can only meet death by the blade of another of their kind. Leaping back and forth through the centuries, MacLeod once again meets the evil Kurgan who nearly killed him 500 years ago.
“Here we are…..Born to be Kings!” With these pounding Freddie Mercury lyrics and Brian May’s incredible guitar work, the world was introduced to The Immortals; individuals who, throughout the centuries, have been searching for each other and battling in deadly combat for the ultimate prize: The Quickening.
It’s hard to believe that its 30 years since audiences first witnessed that incredible opening fight in the car park, where two individuals fought in the confined space with swords. Filmed at a time where science fiction was running rampant in theatres due to the silver screen success of Star Wars, Star Trek and Aliens, Highlander was a film that was part set in modern day, part set in 15th Century Scotland, with brief flash backs to France in World War II, this was a film that delivered character depth and action on many levels.
It made household names of Christopher Lambert, who barely spoke English prior to filming, and who gave a physically commanding performance as Conor MacLeod. Mentoring him was Sean Connery as Ramirez, complete with a continental style moustache and ponytail. They say heroes are only as good as the enemies that challenge them and The Kurgan AKA Victor Kruger, played brilliantly by Clancy Brown, is ranked as one of cinemas all time baddies!
It’s hard to imagine now, but at the time of filming, none of these stars were considered “box office draws”.
Christopher Lambert had gained some success from playing Tarzan in Legend of Greystoke, but was still very unfamiliar to American and British audiences.
Connery, who had some success with his last Bond film Never Say Never Again a couple of years earlier, was still struggling to regain any critical success and avoid typecasting. Highlander would re-launch his career for in 1986 he would be setting the box office alight with a meteoric comeback including The Name of the Rose and his Academy Award winning performance of The Untouchables which would be released a year after this film. Clancy Brown was also a virtual unknown at time of filming. His physical performance, not to forget the chillingness with which he delivers his lines, would set him up as one of cinema’s brilliant bad guy actors, with perhaps his career defining performance of Hadley, Captain of the Prison Guards in The Shawshank Redemption, though his performance as The Kurgan will always be a fan favourite.
This Blu Ray anniversary edition once again brings this incredible film to the small screen and the transfer is cleaner and crisper than an entire generation could remember. The HD pictures are bright, clean and have digitally removed some of the more glaringly obvious wires that were used for the stunts. The beauty of Blu Ray is that is delivers a picture that considering the film stock used, looks like a movie that was made yesterday. For a film made 30 years ago with limited SFX technology, the viewer can see for themselves the time and effort made by the studio to release this masterpiece by enhancing some of the more “challenging and boundary pushing for the time effects.”
As for sound, the digital transfer and clean up of the audio tracks gives the viewer an onslaught of swords clashing, lightning strikes and dialogue that will bring out goose bumps on some and smiles on others. There are no audio blemishes unlike some Blu Ray transfers. There is no mistaking the haunting lyrics of Brian May singing Who Wants To Live Forever to the power of Freddie Mercury on the mega hit of It’s a Kind of Magic. Queen created and recorded songs that have made the soundtrack as popular as the movie itself.
Though most fans and newcomers may only be interested in the colour and sound transfer on the Blu Ray, the more interested will find a treasure trove of extras including new interviews with Director Russel Malachy and Christopher Lambert. There is also a brilliant in depth four part documentary of the history of Highlander, how it was made and the legacy this film created (we can’t forget its numerous sequels and the television spin-offs).
Highlander is a film that has given movie audiences so much pleasure over the decades and thanks to this new release of material and brilliant transfer, will continue to enthral audiences for decades to come. Remember…..There can be only one!
4 out of 5 Nerds