Without a doubt one of the finest cult films of the 1980s, Highlander is a wonderful action-fantasy romp that pretty much works on every level. Yes, it might be a little dated thirty years after its initial release but it’s a great product of its time, and nearly every element in Russell Mulcahy’s fantasy works – it’s a close to perfection as any movie of this ilk can reach.
Christopher Lambert is Connor McLeod, the titular Highlander living in 16th Century Scotland. McLeod is killed in battle and mourned by his clan, however they’re far from thrilled when he comes back to life. It transpires he’s immortal, destined to live through time as the ones he loves die through the ages. Immortals can only be killed by decapitation and McLeod must fight through the centuries in order to win ‘The Prize’. Things come to a head in 1980s New York when he must-face off against The Kurgan (Clancy Brown), a villainous immortal who first took McLeod’s life on the battlefield.
Director Mulcahy is a music video veteran and he has a mastery of tone which sells the fantasy elements, while he also delivers some highly impressive visuals which were perfectly complimented by Michael Kamen’s score and Queen’s now classic soundtrack. It might appear that the casting is off the wall, with Frenchman Lambert playing a Scot, while legendary Scot Sean Connery plays McLeod’s Egyptian-Spanish mentor. None of that matter, as Lambert has never been better and Connery infuses the film with an energy which lifts the film above its B-movie leanings (and he appears to love every minute of it). Highlander might be a fantasy/action film but it does have a lot of heart. We get to see Lambert’s McLeod grapple with friendship, loss and love as he moves from century to century. As Freddie Mercury asks on the soundtrack: who wants to live forever?
Highlander may have spawned four sequels and two television shows, an animated series and the constant threat of a remake. None of them matter though – because there can be only one – and that’s this cracking 1986 original. If you’ve never seen Highlander, go out and get it. If you have, you might as well go out and get this 30th anniversary edition too!
This 30th anniversary edition of Highlander is stacked with a beautiful array of special features. You get interviews with star Christopher Lambert and director Russell Mulcahy (who also gives a commentary), deleted scenes, a detailed making of (in 4 different segments) a trailer and a 4k remastering. Highlander has finally been given the love that it truly deserves.