Ah, Highlander… the perfect standalone fantasy/sci fi actioner that spawned a multitude of absolutely dire and unnecessary sequels. Really, the film covers everything need for the films core concept (a group of immortals battling through time until only one remains) quite well enough. So well that the sequels had to either retcon material from the first film, or ignore it altogether.
In 16th century Scotland, Connor McLeod survives a mortal wound in battle, and is banished for devilry by his clan. He is found years later by Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, who explains to Connor that he is one of a breed of immortals, fated to fight until there is only one left. The only way an immortal can die is to be decapitated by another. Ramirez is killed by The Kurgan, an evil immortal determined to be “The One”. Centuries later, in late 1980s New York, that moment approaches. Connor, now living under the alias Russel Nash, and making a living as an antiques dealer is suspected of a series of murders, where the victims have been found decapitated. Can he evade the police, defeat his ultimate foe The Kurgan, and become “The One”?
And thats it. Now, the film complicates this somewhat by employing a flashback/flash forward structure, meaning the plot does not play out in a linear manner. Even so, it is pretty easy to pick up on what is happening, and why.
At the time, and indeed even now, the film was mocked for its eccentric casting choices. You have a French actor (Cristophe Lambert) playing a Scotsman, and a Scotsman (Sean Connery) playing a Spaniard. Yes, it’s daft. Especially when neither particularly tries to hide their natural accents when delivering dialogue. Not that this matters. Highlander is an action packed fantasy “epic”, which frankly looks and plays far better than a film of it’s relatively low budget really should. This is mostly due to some excellent production design and cinematography. Oh, and the wonderful songs by Queen (Who Wants To Live Forever, Princes of The Universe, etc). The only real issue I have is the way that the Kurgan is clearly presented in typical 80s bad guy fashion, replete with some truly dire one liners. That reeks of studio interference.,
So, the Blu Ray. Well, it is a pretty good package. The transfer is probably the best that the film has looked since it’s first screening, with a reasonable amount of grain, and a fairly muted colour palette. The audio handles itself well, but does at times belie it’s rather basic stereo origins. As for extras? You get a Directors commentary, the films trailer, some deleted scenes, and a 3 part feature taken from a German DVD release. Overall, it isn’t bad. Not up to Arrow/88 Films standards, but for a catalogue release from a major (Studio Canal, who own the Cannon catalogue) it is pretty decent.
Overall, I reccomend this to anyone who enjoys their fantasy films a bit on the dark side.
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