Years before it was cool for music video directors to transition into features, Australian director Russell Mulcahy, who gave us Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, was given license to shoot Highlander. 30 years on, after the box office flop, extended life as a cult film and two sequels that kinda destroyed the original mythology, there’s still no remake to be seen (though there’s, as always, something in the works), despite the obvious impact in pop culture (take that, Avatar!) and the wishes of many fans.
Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert) is a happy Scot during the 16th century… that is, until he realises he is immortal. Forced to leave his village, Connor tries to live a happy, simple life with his wife, but Juan “Yoda” Sanchez (Sean Connery) arrives to train him and teach him how to prepare for the Gathering (apparently, There Can Be Only One). As Sanchez gets killed by barbarian Kurgan (Clancy Brown), and centuries go by, Connor learns how to survive, beheading other immortals, until time comes to take revenge over the Kurgan…
It is now cool to hate Highlander – the acting (exception to Connery) has more wood than the Amazon, the dialogue is laughable even by 80s standards, the special effects haven’t aged well, and don’t get us started on the transitions between present and past (though, we are sure, they were pretty wicked in 1986.) But one can’t deny there’s something in the film that makes it more than a cheesy guilty pleasure. Maybe it’s its premise; maybe it’s the sword fight sequences in 80s New York; or maybe it’s the faultless Queen’s soundtrack (Heeeeeeeere we are!) You may even feel moved when Connor says goodbye to old wife, Heather, as she dies and he doesn’t seem a day older – immortality, after all, doesn’t seem to be as great as its marketing. If the remake ever happens, we may see its potential come to fruition… or blow on a 3D CGI orgy, as we doubt a middle ground is possible with this story. In the meantime, Highlander is what we have, and if you dare to brave Lambert’s lack of charisma for 100 minutes, well, aren’t you a good cinephile.
To watch it in all its 80s splendour, get Studiocanal’s 4K restoration in DVD & Bluray. Extra wise, the new interviews with Lambert and Mulcahy are good, some deleted scenes (though some cases are just different edits to already existing scenes), an audio commentary with Russell Mulcahy, and a delicious making off doc in 4 parts.
Highlander is out on DVD & Blu-ray on 11th July 2016.