Saturday, July 31, 2010

Highlander (1986)

"There can be only one!"

"Highlander" came out in the middle of a decade where every action film was about bad ass cops or ex-military types who were getting revenge and killing anything that moved. "Highlander" without a doubt is one of the most original and best films to be released throughout the entire decade. A spectacular movie with great action, a real heart and wonderful characters. You may be familiar with it already, but for those of you who are not allow me to enlighten you. Christopher Lambert stars as Connor MacLeod who has been alive for about 400 years. As a member of the Clan MacLeod in the Highlands of Scotland, Connor was originally killed in battle by the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) who is the toughest of all immortals. Connor heals and is banished from his village for being in league with Lucifer after his miraculous survival. Five years later he has a new life and woman when he meets Ramirez (played with delight by the one and only James Bond, Sean Connery). Ramirez has sought out MacLeod and teaches him about being immortal and on how to fight. He reveals to MacLeod that to kill an immortal means you have to cut off their head, but you all probably knew that by now, right? Years of movies about creatures and others who cannot be killed except for separating the brain from the body have been permeating cinema a long time now and are quite commonplace. In 1986 however, it was still really cool.

Fast forward to 1985 when Connor, going under the assumed name 'Russell Nash' is the owner of an Antiquities business where he showcases and sells various items he has collected throughout his long life. Connor kills another immortal in the parking garage of Madison Square Garden where he is arrested speeding away and is interrogated by the police. He is released but curious Forensic technician Brenda becomes as interested in him, as Connor is in her. Soon the Kurgan arrives in New York where all the immortals have come for 'The Gathering', a time when the few immortals that are left will battle until there can be only one and he will receive the prize. What is the prize? Well, even I'm not 100% clear on that but you'll have to watch it and see for yourself.

I could go on about "Highlander" forever. While it's not without its 80s corniness so prevalent in films from throughout the decade, it never exhibits ANY of its pesky cliches. The soundtrack from Queen is far better than the average Techno / Hair Band score we usually hear in these films and as I said in the beginning it stays away from the whole military, cop 80s Action trap. I almost didn't want to review it during 80s Action week because it is so unlike any other 80s Action film but I found it hard to classify as anything else except for maybe fantasy. Probably my favorite thing, though small and seemingly insignificant, is the relationship Connor has with his secretary Rachel - a young girl he rescued during World War 2, now older than him in appearance only. It is really quite touching and lends something to the film beyond just action. "Highlander" spawned 3 film sequels, a TV series and a couple of terrible SyFy channel movies. Its too bad none were nearly as good and muddied what started out as a wonderful story. Not A perfect film but very close. 4.5/5 -andy

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