But enough of that noise. It’s time for the review. As befitting of a film review premiere, we will look at the Director’s Cut of Highlander.
The Crunchy Bits:
Leads: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Roxanne Hart & Clancy Brown
Music: Michael Kamen & motherfuckin’ Queen!
Christopher Lambert plays Christopher Lambert who is an Immortal named Connor MacLeod. This race of Immortals has existed since the dawn of time and has always lived amongst us. All Immortals play an eternal game called (sigh) The Game (not Triple H), killing one another until there is only one left and then they win The Prize.
Thoroughly confused? Good.
After an opening monologue by Sean Connery that was recorded in a bathroom (I am so not kidding), we open on a wrestling match in Madison Square Garden. We see Christopher Lambe…ahem…I mean Connor MacLeod watching some 1980s wrestlers that I don’t know, even though I imdb’ed it. They are that forgettable. Connor is looking pissed off for some reason. Why is he sullen? Why did he pay around $200 for tickets to a Madison Square Garden wrestling match only to walk out on the opening match? Why the pouty-face? How much does an antique dealer in 1986 make? These are all good questions and we receive no answers. Get used to that.
Connor walks out into an open air food market that looks like a MSG parking garage (also, not kidding) to, presumably find his car and leave because he has way too much damn money.
From behind him someone appears and challenges him. Here is a transcription of my thoughts when I saw him, “Oh-ho-ho-ho-ha-ha-ha! Wow! Really? This accountant is an expert fencer?”
By the way, he is not an expert fencer. He is terrible. His opening move is to throw his coat at Connor while making a quacking sound. Maybe it’s a French war cry, I don’t know. This move would only be effective against days old puppies. Or a turtle. Ducks would just be baffled by it. Kind of like my sister’s cat when I use my cat soundboard on my phone. I’m off track…
This Immortal is clearly an idiot and is only still alive because everybody else feels sorry for him. He flails around in what is the worst sword fighting scene I have ever, ev-er, EVAR watched, and I watched a porno with a pirate theme. They had better choreographed sword fights (with actual swords, not penises). Somehow, he manages to disarm Connor and knocks his sword under a car. While the idiot backflips away to hide, even though Connor is unarmed, Connor, being less of an idiot uses a lead pipe (a recurring motif) to bash the idiot and use the time to retrieve his sword. Around this time we see a close up of the idiot’s face and he is clearly scared shitless. Also, and I forgot to mention this, this guy has a rapier. That is a stabby-type sword, not a choppy-type sword. The only way to kill an Immortal is to chop of their head. This dipshit clearly, CLEARLY, doesn’t understand sword physics. He fights like a 9 year old with a plastic lightsaber. I took a semester of fencing in college, and I can say, without fear of hyperbole, that I could beat this supposed “Immortal fencer” 8 out of 10 times. 10 out of 10 if I was sober. You would have to be a quadriplegic retard to lose to him.
So, Connor takes his head and we see our first Quickening scene, and it’s pretty underwhelming. Stuff explodes, but people are going to be pissed when they find out their cars were destroyed for some existential game played by superhumans. At least, I would. Dicks.
We are treated to our first flashback. We see Connor in Scotland riding to battle. As far as the huge battle, it is pretty standard fare. Also, the flashbacks are unobtrusive. In this we see a dark knight named the Kurgan “kill” Connor.
Scene shift back to 1986. Connor speeds away only to be arrested by cops right outside the parking garage. Connor is probably glad he hid his katana in an overhead grate before trying to run.
In the interrogation room, Connor denies everything, and then the asshole cop denies every sensible reaction that comes to mind. I will just type what he says, “You a faggot, Nash?”
Oh, yeah, Connor is using the pseudonym Russell Edwin Nash.
But back to the scene, seriously. That is totally uncalled for! You can’t just start questioning someone’s sexuality. You don’t just make that supposition. Connor replies with an even headed, “You’re sick,” and then the asshole cop punches Connor.
After that unpleasentness, we are treated to a Queen micro-video.
Then we are introduced to The Kurgan, or Victor Kreuger. We also get a Pulp Fiction-style training sequence. In all reality, it is not a bad scene. We get a look at Kurgan’s high-tech (for 1986) broadsword. It’s actually pretty cool looking.
Connor goes back to the parking garage to fetch his katana. He sees Brenda in the same parking garage. She is using a metal detector to find a sliver of a sword in a pillar. Ok, that doesn’t work, for at least two reasons.
1: Connor’s sword is a folded Masamune katana. If Connor’s katana is as strong as Ramirez said it was, how would a piece of it break off in a concrete pillar?
2: A metal detector would not find a sliver of a historic, one-of-a-kind sword in a parking concrete pillar. Why? There’s a bunch or metal in the pillar. Rebar, iron, steel or whatever, I’m not in construction, would set off the metal detector.
But, somehow Brenda finds a piece of Connor’s sword. Connor tries to sneak away but kicks a soda can and alerts Brenda to the fact that he was there.
Next, Brenda goes to a bar to drink away her frustrations. She gets a tall glass of beer, gin, something and drinks most of it. Connor comes in, in a weird creeper way. He orders a drink on the rocks. My version doesn’t have subtitles, so I don’t know what it is, but according to imdb.com, it is supposed to be drunk at room temperature. At this time we also get a song from Freddie Mercury singing a sad song about something, again, no subtitles. I suspect that this is Queen’s attempt at country music.
Brenda and Connor have a heated conversation at just above a whisper and Conner leaves. Brenda goes all creeper on Connor for a change. Connor channels his inner mugger and when Brenda walks by an alleyway and he pulls her in. We get a 3 second scene before Kurgan attacks Connor. Nice pacing, bro.
Now we get our second big sword fight scene.
By this time, Connor has his sweet-ass sword back, but for some reason, HE DOESN’T USE IT! Why? You have a 7 foot tall berserker swinging a broadsword at you, LITERALLY TRYING TO CUT OFF YOUR HEAD! Defend yourself! Seriously! This is not that foppish idiot from the parking garage. Brenda throws Connor a lead pipe, proving that she wants him to live more than he does. Somehow, Connor manages to disarm Kurgan and tunes him up with the pipe until Kurgan realizes that he is being beaten up by an idiot. Kurgan takes the pipe from Connor and beats him: Medium Style. The only thing that saves Connor is a police helicopter. He leaves with a parting shot, “Another time, Highlander,” and beats feet.
We get a second flashback to the events right after the events of the battle and Connor’s “death”. Everyone is super freaked that Connor “died” but lived. Now I’m not a history major, but I do know some history. Now, as I recall, most of the Scottish folk were like, super Catholic. So, this flashback scene kinda baffles me. I don’t think the folk in Clan MacLeod would jump straight to devilry. I would think that they would think it was more of a miracle than demonic. His wife is the one who is antagonizing everyone too. That’s a bit bizarre to me too, considering how devoted Connor is as a husband. He gets kicked out of his clan and wanders for an unspecified amount of time.
We now get to see where Connor lives. He lives above an antique shop. This admittedly makes sense for an Immortal.
We don’t get to spend much time here because we have another flashback to get to. Five years later Connor finds a tower, a wife and a relatively normal life. Connor and Heather go on a picnic and about to get to bangin’, when who should show up but Sean Connery dressed in drag doing his best Spanish accent (read: none). This colorful Egyptian-Spanish-Japanese-Scottish cockblocker is named Ramirez. Seriously, Ramirez makes it his mission to break up Connor and Heather. After a bit, Connor gets struck by lightning…for no discernible reason.
We shift back to 1986. Brenda goes into the police officer’s and looks at the confidential forensics file and finds…Russell Nash’s mugshots. Remember: Russell Nash is Connor MacLeod.
We get to watch a scene of Connor sharpening his sword which is what I can only assume is what Immortals do instead of masturbate since they can’t have kids.
In the fourth flashback which is essentially a training montage and also the longest flashback, we see Ramirez and Connor fight like an old married couple. That is until Ramirez rocks the boat they’re in until Connor falls in the lake…err…loch…whatever. Connor finds out he can’t drown, so the opposite of Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. Connor asks Ramirez where Immortals come from and Ramirez gives Connor a big, long-winded, existential speech but at the same time doesn’t say anything. Some mentor. Ramirez does, however, teach Connor sword-fighting and does impart him with some advice, while the camera crew imparts us with sweeping landscape shots which are scenic.
In the next shot, Ramirez, Connor and Heather are at some open air market/fair/festival; it’s not clearly explained. What is clearly explained, by Ramirez, is that while Ramirez and Connor are Immortal, Heather isn’t. Ramirez even offers Connor his one-of-a-kind Masamune katana if he leaves Heather, to spare Connor the pain. Connor hands the sword back to Ramirez and tells him to, essentially, fuck off.
Later that night, while Connor is…away, Heather and Ramirez share some wine while Ramirez regales Heather with his stories. Ramirez feels the Buzz (their term, not mine) and tells Heather to hide. Then Kurgan busts through the door and is so infuriated that he immediately attacks the furniture. In one strike he cleaves the table in two. Ramirez draws his katana and is determined to avenge the fallen dinner table. Ramirez cuts Kurgan’s neck and we see where he got his nifty neck scar. Oh, yeah, Heather screams a bunch. There is a very hokey battle that is still, nonetheless, entertaining and in the end, Ramirez loses his head…literally.
Now we’re back in “modern” times. Rachel, Connor’s confidante and receptionist(?) talks to him about what is going on later that night. Evidently, Connor made a date with Brenda. I’m just as confused as you are.
Don’t worry, we have another flashback. This one is during World War II and shows how Connor rescues Rachel during a German raid on an English or French town. It’s a short scene, but it’s important because Connor kills a Nazi. It’s pretty satisfying.
So, Connor goes to Rachel’s apartment, and she seems awfully paranoid. She hides a .38 snub-nose and a tape recorder in the main room of her apartment. Keep in mind; this is 20 years before Antoine Dodson. Something happens and there’s a disagreements between Connor and Brenda. Again it’s just above a whisper and my copy doesn’t have subtitles. At any rate, Connor leaves.
We see a passing of seasons with Connor and Heather while Queen plays “Who Wants to Live Forever.” In this flashback we see Heather getting older as Connor stays the same age until Heather ultimately dies. It is a genuinely moving scene and it is accentuated by Queen’s music. When you see Beatie Edney come up the hill with grey hair instead of red, your mind is like, “Oh shit. I know where this is going.” But you are still not prepared. It is so sad and Queen’s music swells just as it gets to the saddest part. Connor stays with Heather right up until her last breath. Connor marks her grave with the Clan MacLeod sword and takes Ramirez’ katana and wanders the world.
Back in 1986, Connor meets with Kastagir on a bridge. They have a night on the town, but the scene was actually cut, for time I assume, although, since we will sit through a 3 hour Peter Jackson movie it could be reinserted. Kastagir jokes about the last time Connor had a wild night out and we hop in the Way-Back Machine to 1783 and it is a very funny scene of Connor dueling a pompous, yet honorable ass named Bassett. Connor, absolutely shit-faced drunk gets repeatedly stabbed by our rather foppish antagonist. And, in true comedic fashion, he repeatedly gets back up. It ends when Bassett’s minion begs Bassett to shoot Connor as he staggers away. Bassett says no and wrestles the gun away from his crony and shoots the crony in the ass as he tries to run away (effeminately).
Kurgan leaves his flophouse and go out into the night to find Kasagir. We happen upon a gun-nut in a Pontiac. This guy looks like everything the Reagan Era loved. Remember, Operations Desert Storm & Desert Shield were still 5 years away. So we had to do something to release all that pent-up aggression, so…vigilantism…because that’s a responsible course of action. Yay! But, in this scene we have Kastagir and Kurgan fighting and Kurgan decapitates Kastagir. The gun-nut blows his load at finally being able to do something and unloads a clip into Kurgan. Kurgan doesn’t take a liking to our 80s era vigilante and skewers the gun-nut and tosses him aside as the rest of the pimps and hookers witness the Quickening. Kurgan then takes off in a stolen car with a little old lady in the passenger seat.
The cops question the gun-nut in the hospital and he tells them the “Headhunter Killer” that he saw is not Connor. He also tells them about the Quickening he witnessed. I’m impressed that Kurgan obliged the gun-nut to miss all of his vital organs and even though he stabbed his straight through, he missed the gun-nut’s spine. Kurgan may not look like it, but he’s very courteous.
Brenda does some investigative work and finds Russell Edwin Nash’s birth certificate. She talks to a doctor (in an egregious breach of doctor-patient confidentiality) and a hand writing analyst and finds out that Nash is Connor and that he’s been around for a couple hundred.
At the same time (presumably) Connor is in a church lighting a candle for Heather on her birthday as he promised her on her deathbed. Kurgan comes in, extinguishes the prayer candles and antagonizes Connor to the point where he almost breaks the Holy Ground rule.
Brenda arrives at Connor’s antique shop and after finding out that she knows something, Connor tells her everything. Brenda witnesses his immortality first-hand and then over a string version of “Who Wants to Live Forever,” Connor and Brenda bone each other. Classy, 1986, classy. I knew about a “petite morte” but not the “big fuckin’ morte.” Well, played.
Kurgan kidnaps Brenda the next day and uses her as leverage to force Connor to fight him. In the next scene, Clancy Brown is having so much fun being the bad guy that Brenda faints, from what can only be too many simultaneous heart attacks. But at least Kurgan left a tape for Connor. Like I said he’s courteous.
Connor goes to save Brenda but is ambushed by Kurgan. They fight on top of the Silvercup Studios catwalk until they knock over a water tower and are fighting in waist deep water on the roof. Kurgan decides he’s had enough shit and cuts the wires holding the sign up and it falls over dangling Brenda over the edge. Fortunately, she climbs up right in time to be in the way. Connor and Kurgan both tumble through a skylight and fall what looks to be at least 50 feet with no ill effects while Brenda opts to use her brain and the door on the ground level. Connor and Kurgan continue their duel on an empty sound stage. Kurgan disarms Connor and is ready to win when Brenda dents his brainpan with a metal pipe. Kurgan knocks the recurring motif away from Brenda and he is ready to split her groin to gullet when Connor blocks the blade and smirks, “What took you so long?”
Now we get to see that Connor is in fact an adept swordsman. Fun Fact: the sparks from the swords clashing were from a car battery with the positive side and the negative side hooked up to opposite swords.
Anyway, Connor takes Kurgan’s head and ostensibly wins the Prize. Connor has the Final Quickening saying, “I know everything! I AM EVERYTHING!”
Connor now knows the thoughts of everyone on Earth and can now have children and grow old. Connor presumably marries Brenda and they live out their lives in Scotland.
Final thoughts: If you can get past some of the hokey-ness of the 80s setting then it’s good. I enjoyed it and it is definitely worth a watch, even if it’s on Netflix or a Red Box rental.
Best: Scriptwriting. Yes, the songs are awesome but what stands out to me is the writing. There are genuinely funny and sad moments. There have been a lot of movies I watch where there’s a sad scene and I am unmoved by it or a funny scene falls flat. When I first saw Heather come up the hill with that grey hair, I knew what was coming and I was still sad.
Worst: Sequels. With the exception of Highlander: The Series and Highlander: Endgame, The other sequels should be ignored. True, Endgame has some major…MAJOR flaws, but overall it is decent. And besides, that’s a review for another time.
Let me know what you think in the comments.