Highlander (1986) Poster

(1986)

User Reviews

Review this title
343 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
Magical - Don't Miss!
imprator12 January 2004
When I first saw this movie, I loved it. Having recently seen it again after several years, I found it to be every bit as good as I remembered – in fact, better. So I thought I would visit IMDB and see what others had to say. I learned four things;

1/ This movie was a flop at the box office. Funny, I had always assumed it was a hit – it was so good, and spawned three (soon to be four) sequels and a television series.

2/ I expected some to be less than entranced with Highlander, but was interested to learn that there are those who think it complete rubbish.

3/ Some people think the sequels are good movies. How could they?

4/ Some people don't like the Queen soundtrack. How could they not?



It is always interesting to see different viewpoints, especially when they are completely contrary to your own. But for me, this movie was perfect. The premise was intriguing, the story was beautifully told, the joy and pathos of an immortal amongst mortals revealed with great skill. There was great action, romance, the tragedy of love lost – and the baddest of bad guys to overcome.

The casting was excellent, as was the acting. Sean Connery's contribution was exactly as it should have been, and no more. Clancy Brown's performance as The Kurgan was joyfully terrifying, Christopher Lambert was spot-on.

The screenplay was excellent, as was the script. I was especially impressed with the way that flashbacks were interwoven with the ongoing story. In fact, this is the only flashback movie I have ever liked.

I was also thoroughly impressed with the action sequences. Unlike so many recent movies, none of the action involved the physically impossible (with the obvious exception of the fact that the immortals were immortal, of course). This added enormously to the appeal, in direct contrast to so many movies made in the last decade. I despair when I watch movies where people perform the impossible. Even the classic scene `Oh, I'm falling – but it's OK, I can just grab this rope/branch/flagpole/whatever, and even though I have fallen 30 feet and am travelling at 20 mph, I can just stretch out my hand and arrest my fall as though I was no heavier than a feather' destroys all credibility in the action. I know, this is a fantasy movie anyway, so what does it matter? Well, realistic action is even more important in fantasy movies; it helps the audience to willingly suspend disbelief. This is very difficult to do when you are busy giggling at the latest fantastical feat you have witnessed. No such concerns in this movie – the action was perfectly judged to reflect the prowess gained from centuries of experience, whilst avoiding the impossible and the ridiculous.

I was intrigued to find one user comment on IMDB criticising the use of `unnecessarily large and heavy weapons'. Anyone who has used (or even picked up) any edged weapon will be aware that they are very heavy. Moving that kind of mass means lots of momentum, and involves very distinctive body movements to counterbalance the weight. Most movies use toy weapons – plastic, fibreglass or wood – and the lack of mass shows in the actor's movements. For the uninitiated, this may make for flashier and faster action – but for those who know, it looks like children playing pretend. The use of weapons with real weight in Highlander adds tremendously to the realism. It was particularly impressive that the actors could use the weapons properly (at least to the extent demanded by the choreographed scenes – and that is all that is required for movies). Clancy Brown (as The Kurgan) deserves special praise here – he had the largest and heaviest weapon, yet wielded it like a veteran. One can only imagine the endless hours he spent perfecting his movements and balance.

I do understand why some would find the soundtrack intrusive, but for me this was another area that was perfectly judged. Queen's songs enhanced the mood of the moment whenever they played. One related fact that some might find interesting – a few years ago I saw a list of the top ten best movies for music as voted for by students. Highlander made the list – the only non-musical to do so. (In fact, I think it came in the top five.) So I would guess that the soundtrack works for most people..

I also understand why the accents in the movie (Christopher Lambert's and Sean Connery's) are a problem for some. However, I was happy with Lambert's accent; it was Scottish enough for the Highland scenes, and suitably indefinable for the modern settings. Sean Connery was, of course, Sean Connery – he never adopts any accent other than his own. But that's OK – it doesn't detract from the film, any more than it detracts from any of his films (such as Red October). I tend to agree with his point that accents don't matter – emotions are the same, regardless of nationality.

Just a quick word about the sequels – disappointing. I am not one to decry all sequels as inferior. In fact, many sequels are very good, and some are better than their progenitors. However, the Highlander sequels were without exception very poor. The original film was obviously conceived as a one-off, and was all the better for it. The story was complete with Highlander, and the sequels were necessarily contrived. However, Highlander II exceeded all expectations in this regard. The plot changed the story of the immortals beyond all recognition. Egregious just isn't a big enough word to describe it.

The sequels are best viewed as being entirely separate from the original. If you haven't already seen them, be prepared for a decidedly tepid experience.

But Highlander itself – ah, there's a real movie. Sit back and enjoy!

9.5/10
248 out of 285 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Largely panned by the critics, but surprisingly a good, ingenious sci-fi offering.
barnabyrudge5 January 2005
Highlander is an ingenious and very entertaining science fiction film which has come in for rather a lot of (unwarranted) scathing criticism. Although the plot jumps around with reckless abandon, the scripters Gregory Widen, Larry Ferguson and Peter Bellwood manage to pull in all the loose ends by the climax. The word "confusing" has been used to describe the film quite often as well, but if you stick with it the confusing moments are explained quite cleverly towards the closing reels. This is, in fact, not a bad film at all. I'd venture to say it's a pretty good one.

The opening sequence has Russell Nash (Christopher Lambert) at a wrestling match in New York's Madison Square Gardens. He leaves early, and while walking through the underground car park is confronted by a man with a sword. Nash is not perturbed by this - he merely brandishes a sword of his own, and the pair of them fight to the death, resulting in the decapitation of Nash's opponent. Slowly, we learn (via flashbacks) that Nash is an immortal swordsman who has spent centuries duelling with like immortals. The only way they can die is by decapitation at the hands of one of their counterparts. Each swordsman has spent the whole of history pursuing the others, hoping to be the last one alive whereupon he will gain mortality, virility and vast knowledge.

The film is very energetic (what would you expect from a former music video director?) with dazzling camera work and a pounding, Flash Gordon-style soundtrack by Queen. Sean Connery has a pleasant supporting role as an immortal who teaches Lambert the art of swordplay, and Alan North has a funny part as a bewildered cop who can't figure out why headless corpses keep turning up in his city. The film's intentionally muddled structure is slightly irritating on the first viewing, but with repeated viewings it becomes more comprehensible, even clever. Highlander is a good, inventive piece of hokum.... and it's a real shame that those very same critics who are always grumbling about the lack of cinematic imagination these days didn't give it some merit when it was first released.
120 out of 138 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
A Good Film Whose Reputation Has Been Dragged Down By Poor Sequels
CTS-19 March 2005
When I first saw this film, I thought it was great. Connery is good, Lambert does passably well, the effects are good, the idea of a bunch of special individuals who had known about each other (and in some cases, liked each other) for centuries being drawn together, knowing that only one could come out alive. The effects were, at the time, good and had not been flogged to death. I even enjoyed the introductory clan-on-clan warfare.

Then came Highlander 2, a film which deserved its place on the Bottom 100 and the nadir of Sean Connery's career. As someone else said about that film: "don't break every rule you set up in the first film." Even the series didn't do that. And the reputation of the first good film suffered.

Separating the first film from the bad sequels, and a series that a lot of people can take or leave, it is still a good film. Unfortunately, a good idea was taken and flogged to death afterward.
81 out of 101 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Great story told with heart
LordBlacklist15 February 2006
I can honestly say that Highlander is one of the most original and affecting stories I have ever had the pleasure of viewing, although sadly not in the cinema. The film has its flaws but the cumulative effect of all the various elements make this a film that is really like no other, and often imitated. There are many elements in the film that were experimental at the time, especially for a genre film. The editing style is much more painterly and nonlinear than what one normally expects. The integration of modern songs in a period setting was handled brilliantly, with the crowning achievement of the film being the "who wants to live forever?" montage, which is an absolutely heartbreaking scene. Anyone who has ever truly loved someone will understand when you see it. One of the refreshing aspects of Highlander is that the movie is not just set up with an interesting concept and becomes a mindless action film from there, but that it actually comments on the questions posed by immortality. With Connor Macleod we are given a fantastic character who is brilliantly realized through Chrisopher Lambert's complex performance. The change he goes through from young, innocent Scotsman to a sad, world weary antiques dealer is a wonderful achievement. I actually feel through his performance how lonely the life of an immortal must be, and how he keeps people at a distance whereas to not get too deeply involved. This film has it's heart in the right place because it comments on the fact that when people lose everything they hold dear, in this case because Macleod will outlive everyone he cares about, they travel inward, cutting themselves off from the world in hopes that they will be spared the pain of seeing the ones they love die. From a story standpoint alone, this is a truly magnificent film, which isn't to say it is lacking in other areas. The camera angles are very inventive and some of the transitions between time frames are jaw-dropping. The musical score by Michael Kamen is lush and romantic, while at the same time allowing for an integration with the songs by Queen that is a tremendously successful idea that in theory you'd never think would work right, but strangely it does so extremely well. There is a wide range of performance in the film ranging from Lambert's subtle, understated interpretation of Connor, to Clancy Brown's flamboyantly theatrical portrayal of the main Villain. Sean Connery also makes quite an impression as Connor's mentor. He is both hilarious and charming, powerful and poignant. The female character's are also handled very well with Conner's first wife Heather being the standout. Highlander has a very odd sense of humor that seems to have come from improvisation from the actors. The entire film has a spontaneous energy that works very well because you never quite know what is going to happen next. This is not a perfect film, and sometimes it tends to fall back on genre stereotypes but the overall effect of the film more than makes up for it. Highlander is one of the more original films ever made, and sadly none of the sequels ever built on that. As far as the Highlander series goes; There can be only one, and this is it.
53 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Didn't get it at first
timzp10 December 2004
I didn't get this film at first audition. I thought the acting wasn't great. But something about the film kept pulling me in. When I watched it again I fell in love with the movie. Its full of romance, heroism and over all loss. A very involving and emotional film. The Queen song "Who wants to live forever" never fails to stir emotions. The battle scenes are also very good. What also makes the film work is the casting. The Highlanders all look very brave and fearless not to mention scarred. Also the costumes are fantastic. I'm mo expert on the exact clothing for Highlanders in the 16th century, but they looked pretty good to me. I had no real feelings about Scotland before I watched this film, But after the film got under my skin it was the next place I visited. I was amazed to find that there really is a Glen Finnan on the shore of Loch Sheil. And I can say first hand that it is a truly historicaly magical place.
98 out of 135 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
There is only one!
mjw230512 January 2007
In 16th century Scotland, immortals fought against each other, in a quest for the prize of being the one remaining at the end of the centuries of fighting. Conner Macleod (Christophe Lambert) is trained in the art of sword fighting by Ramirez (Sean Connery) in hope that one day one of them will fight and defeat the Kurgen (Clancy Brown) The story is set over 4 centuries and stretches from the highlands of Scotland to the streets of New York.

Firstly the cinematography in the highlands captures the breath taking scenery beautifully, the story is captivating fantasy, with dialogue and direction to suit the theme, and the cast all perform well enough to entice you into the story and hold your attention, without ever really excelling. Finally the soundtrack is provided by Queen, and it genuinely adds to the emotional feel of the film in quite dramatic style.

Highlander is a very good movie, that has its flaws; but in fantasy, does it really matter? However the sequels are far too contradictory and contrived to be given the same forgiveness. This film really is the only one; and its stands alone without the need for its inferior sequels.

7/10
45 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
I absolutely loved this movie!!!
dbrigley14 April 2005
It does exactly what a movie is supposed to do! It lets your imagination run away with you. It lets you forget all your worries for a time. The music is Fantastic!!! It is haunting and relaxing at the same time. Sean Connery is of course, wonderful in his part. Christopher Lambert has a way of making you feel what he feels. The scenery is utterly gorgeous. The special effects are very well done.Makes you want to live forever and at the same time glad that you don't! Worrying about getting your head cut off sure makes our bills seem like such tiny little problems! Great entertainment!! A must see for the fiction fan.
60 out of 84 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Guilty pleasure #1
andglasgo25 May 2006
Still, one of my favorite movies of all time, especially if I watch the director's cut. Forget the sequel. Forget everything but the first movie. This was Gregory Widen's first screenplay about a world of darkness. It's great fun, but if you're looking for a FILM, just watch the scene cuts. Please, please ignore any of the franchise movies. Highlander succeeds because it's an '80s movie. The special effects, while not novel, were solid. The swords alone are why I watched this movie in my young years. The writing and the acting are why I've come back. As an aside, I know three people who can quote Highlander in its entirety. That's solid, too. It's an epic movie, plowing through the years. Epic battles, and an epic storyline.
56 out of 80 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A movie with something for everyone
Incubus-514 May 2000
The first time I saw this movie I knew it was going to be a lifelong favorite. With all the years that have gone by since then, and the repeated viewings I have given it, The Highlander still remains one of the best pieces of film I have ever seen. There are enough fight scenes to satisfy the most adamant of action movie fans, and there is an incredibly touching scene with Lambert and Beatie Edney (Heather) when she is dying of old age, Connor is still youthful in appearance, and the Queen song "Who Wants To Live Forever" is playing in the background. It still brings tears to my eyes when I see Connor in modern day New York lighting a candle for her on her birthday. The swordplay is extremely well choreographed and the sets are remarkable. To be fair, the special effects are not what I would consider up to the standards of the day, however the writing and acting is more than enough to make up for it. If you want to see a movie that doesn't NEED special effects to make it worth watching, this is one for you.
58 out of 85 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
This is still an enjoyable movie.
philip_vanderveken1 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie for the very first time in the late eighties and, for as far as I still can remember of course, I know that I was very impressed by the special effects used in this movie. Of course, when it comes to special effects, much has changed since this movie was created 20 years ago, but it was still nice to watch.

Connor Macleod is the Highlander, an immortal who was born in 1518 and who fought his first battle on the Scottish Highlands in 1536. When he gets mortally wounded, but doesn't die, he is banned by his clan because they fear the Devil's work has made him survive. Five years later he meets Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, who explains him why he didn't die and what it means to be an immortal. He finds out that he can only die when decapitated by another immortal and that, in the future, he will have to compete in some kind of contest. Only the best will survive and win "The Prize". The contest takes place in 1985, in New York City and he'll have to face Victor Kruger / The Kurgan, a murderously brutal barbarian.

Despite the fact that it sometimes may look a bit dated because of the special effects, this movie is still enjoyable. The story is interesting and the acting was good (personally I loved Clancy Brown the most as The Kurgan). And of course the soundtrack is very good as well, at least when you can appreciate the music by Queen. If not, than this may well be the soundtrack from hell for you, because the only music in it is from Queen. Overall I can say that, despite some minor defects, I had a good time watching this movie. That's why I give it a 7/10.
25 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A Classic of the 80's
Gislef14 August 1998
Highlander is perhaps the definitive modern-day, non-horror fantasy adventure. The use of flashbacks within the story is perhaps not unique, but the concept sees its full fruition here. Such integral "flashback storytelling" would later be borrowed by many movies and TV shows (the Highlander series itself, Forever Knight, and Outlaws among the latter). Everyone is well cast, from the major roles (Lambert, Brown, Connery, Hart, and North) to the minor roles (Peter Diamond, Hugh Quarshie, Sheila Gish, and Christopher Malcolm, among others). Of necessity, must be seen in the Director's Cut version. Various web sites also have the further "missing scenes," including the Kurgan's battle with Immortal Yung Dol Kim, and Kastagir and MacLeod actually having that party they mention.
30 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Flashy direction for an enjoyable but average movie
bob the moo11 January 2004
When he is fatally wounded in a battle but yet survives with no visible marks, Connor MacLeod is expelled from his village. When he is visited by Rameriz he learns that he is immortal and together they train for the eventual day when the immortals will battle to find the only one. Centuries later, beheadings are the top crime of the day in New York as the final gathering approaches with the evil Kurgan looking to destroy all before him. Meanwhile journalist Brenda Wyatt begins looking into the story around an ancient sword that was used in one of the beheadings.

Beginning a series that really should have stuck with it's own catchphrase and only made one, this film is easily the best of the lot. The plot sees the film jumping around between times without too much in the way of structure - some scenes allowing comedy, others drama. It doesn't all totally work but it is still quite a fun film to watch anyway. While the plot fails to really engage, the film moves fast enough to be enjoyable - with the first half having the better structure as a learning experience for Connor and, hence, for the audience. It is fun if a little silly. It is the skips forward in time that are the problem.

They demand a little more structure and a greater degree of character development - neither of which really are forthcoming. In fairness it still manages to look good and be entertaining nonetheless. The sword fights are pretty basic but still stylishly directed and have a slick music video feel to them. It's the romantic interest that is the biggest difference between the times: in Scotland the aging of Connor's wife is emotional, in New York the love interest is just an excuse for a bit of blue-lit rumpy-pumpy!

A big reason for the first half being good is the hamming of Connery as Rameriz. He is lively and amusing and it's a shame his involvement was cut short. Lambert is pretty good - although now his trademark laugh is more annoying than endearing! He doesn't manage to bring out the loss and suffering of his character very well at all to be honest. Brown is a much better character - it doesn't require a lot of acting skill but he is enjoying himself playing it up and he really looks the part; where Lambert is a bit dry Brown is like a real spice for the film. Hart is just a bit dippy and not that good in the role.

Overall this is a pretty enjoyable, yet average, fantasy movie. I don't see how this one film managed to spawn as much as it did, and in a way I wish it hadn't, but it is worth seeing once. The soundtrack by Queen and fun performances from Connery and Brown are possible highlights.
17 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Fun, cool, but unremarkable
matt-begg19 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Ah, Highlander! An epic tale of immortals locked in a vast struggle, slowly decapitating each other over the centuries until there is only one, who shall win the mysterious Prize. Things don't get much cooler! My first experience of Highlander was through the Queen soundtrack, which is, to say the least, amazing. I had a brief encounter with the TV series during my youth, but I was far too young to understand it while it was still on the air. Still, the concept and the soundtrack (which pretty much tells the story by itself) left me with high expectations.

To be honest though, I felt very disappointed. It's painful to think that someone could take all this good stuff, throw in some brilliant actors, have some (for the day) stunning special effects, and churn out something so average.

Christopher Lambert does his best as Connor MacLeod, The Highlander, who we are lead to believe is suffering constant anguish from his immortal life, seeing everyone he cares about die one by one while he lives on. Sadly the script doesn't explore this in a particularly creative way. As we all know, all 80's movies - even really good ones - must have a pointless and poorly explained love interest, and in this movie she comes in the form of Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart). The idea is that she resurfaces the pain of Connor's wife's death centuries ago, but more time is dedicated to cliché "romance" scenes than to Connor's development as a character, and Brenda just comes over as annoyingly superfluous.

By far the best character in the movie is Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, played by Sean Connery, who as well as bringing a lot of good humour to the movie, also gives a good sense of what being an immortal is all about; his Scottish accent, claim of Spanish nationality and long deceased Japanese wife really give a feeling that he's lived long enough to really see the world, and at a time when travel was slow and dangerous. Connery is lively and exciting in his role, in stark contrast to the awkward character development of MacLeod, or the boring two-dimensional nature of...

The Kurgan (Clancy Brown). Now, immortals, by nature, go around slicing each other's heads off purely in pursuit of a Prize that they don't know the value of. They're killers - not nice people. Even McLeod, a "good" immortal, is a cold, ruthless serial killer. So it would make sense that his greatest enemy would be truly vile. Sadly, Victor Kruger comes over as laughably fake. He looks evil, sounds evil... he goes into churches and extinguishes prayer candles with an evil laugh and threatens mortals just because they irritate him. You half expect to see him beating up eight year old kids for their lunch money. In all fairness, he comes across as truly terrifying, but just not realistic - and there's certainly no explanation for his evilness, nor any character development.

For all of these things I would still rate Highlander as a great movie based on this. I can do without strong character development for a story this cool. However, what drives the movie down is that the filmmakers succeeded in then ruining its main virtues! Firstly, the Queen soundtrack... If you haven't watched this movie yet, I suggest you purchase a copy of "A Kind of Magic" by Queen and try to build up the story in your head from that. When I did this, I got the idea of a sort of explosive rock-opera - an all-action musical. This may sound a bit cheesy, but at least it would be a good use of great music, and probably a hell of a lot of fun too. Instead, Highlander throws in the occasional minute and a half of Queen as and when the producers felt like it, interspersed with more boring yet appropriate music in between. This just makes the Queen music seem obnoxiously abused and out of place, in the same way that a bunch of Film Studies students today would think Linkin Park is an appropriate choice of music for the tense moments in a murder mystery. Yes, I've seen that done, so I have a good idea of what they were thinking when they made Highlander: "omg kewl!!1"

Also, I didn't feel that the scale of the plot was being used to its full extent. We have a plot covering centuries, and you'd expect new immortals to be coming about all the time. So why did we only see half a dozen immortals in the whole movie? The whole Gathering - the time when all immortals are drawn to one place to fight to the death - was so low-brow, in fact, that I didn't even realise it WAS the Gathering until near the end! I expected the whole thing to be immense, with New York in chaos and the whole thing finally being exposed to the world. In fact, when the movie finally gets to the climatic battle between McLeod and the Kurgan seems to occur without a single ounce of cinematic ceremony. The battle ends, however, in a way that screws up something awesome even more spectacularly boringly than before. The Highlander wins the Prize by besting the Kurgan in single combat. There is nothing else to say about that. He simply wins the fight by fighting better. Nothing clever, meaningful, or that has anything to do with the rest of the plot. Worse yet, it turns out that the Prize is that McLeod can have kids and grow old and die. And apparently he gets universal knowledge, which he promises to use to end poverty and cure cancer in an aggravating Miss Universe-like speech.

I'm probably being too harsh. Highlander is a good fun to watch, and has a lot of good material in it. But quite simply, don't expect anything out of the ordinary.
10 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A great film marred by sequels
AgentFauxMulder17 October 2016
The original Highlander was a good movie, the kind of action movie that could only have been made in the 80's. It takes a novel premise, and explores it without taking itself too seriously.

The movie follows the life of an immortal swordsman in a battle to the death with other immortals. So the movie cuts back and forth between two stories. One is a modern day tale about The Gathering, a final battle of immortals. The other is Connor's life story, beginning with the day he discovered he was immortal, and the events that shape him into the bitter and cynical loner he's become.

I find the flashback parts to be more enjoyable, especially when Sean Connery shows up. He portrays Connor's best friend and mentor at a critical time in his life, and he manages to feel like he's in the entire movie when his screen time is actually quite small. His performance is a good fit for the movie, unlike the campy acting in the sequel, as he manages to be light-hearted and fun at the same time he's a fierce and capable warrior, who could easily win The Prize himself.

The modern story follows three plot threads: a police investigation into the murdered immortals, The Gathering, and a love story that bridges the other modern two plots. The police are brutal, bigoted, corrupt and unsympathetic characters ,and there is a very isolated feel to Connor's world. It gives a dark seriousness to the movie.

Mulcahy did a good job with this movie visually. This movie was his transition from music videos, and the influence of that medium is noticeable. Working in an artform without dialogue and having to tell a story in 3 minutes means knowing how to tell the story visually and keep the pace going. There are a lot of visuals that might be iconic, such as Connor walking down the street, Kurgen's tower duel, and the final battle. That video feel is helped by the soundtrack. The movie famously features Queen and Michael Kamen, and introduces the song Who Wants To Live Forever.

It's a bit campy and ridiculous at times, often over-the-top, but one of my favorite movies. The sequels, however, ruin the film, as all of them retcon the ending and other details of this movie. Whatever kind of magic made this film work is not in the sequels at all, and this movie should stand by itself.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
I Love It. Always Have. Always Will.
slightlymad2227 May 2017
Continuing my plan to watch every Sean Connery movie in order, I come to Highlander (1986)

Plot In A Paragraph: A group of immortals, who can only die via decapitation, duel through the centuries.

I love Highlander. Always have. Always will. It will always be a disappointment to me none of the sequels or the TV Shows lived up to the potential this universe offered.

Playing the Egyptian Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (with his normal accent of course) Connery Looks to be having a blast in his second mentor role in a row. He was only on set for 7 days (he had a bet, which he lost, with director Russell Mulcahy he would not finish his scenes in time and had a lucrative clause in place if he didn't) and his screen time is likely to be under twenty minutes, but his presence looms large in the movie

Considering he could barely speak English, Christopher Lambert (one of the nicest celebs I've ever met) is great, Clancy Brown's Kurgan is one of my favourite movie bad guys and Beatrice Edney is gorgeous. Oh and the soundtrack is by my favourite band of all time Queen.

Amazingly Highlander tanked at the domestic box office grossing only $5 million dollars. Highlander found its audience on video, and the rest is history. As for Connery, after his the time away from the screen, it would seem like his luck had not improved with his reinvention as the older, wiser mentor. Despite two great performances, the movies still did little business. That would all change with his next movie though.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
It's a kind of magic
ManOfKino30 June 2018
Connor MacLeod, a Scottish fighter in the 16th century, is killed in the battlefield, only to learn that he's unable to die. Banished from his village, he's taken under the wing of an Egyptian warrior, who's also immortal like him. Immortals can die only when they are decapitated, and are fated to be drawn to fight each other throughout the ages, until only one of them remains and inherits the mysterious "Prize"...

Highlander is unique action-adventure film. It has a highly original concept conveyed through a simple story which it uses not just to provide an excuse to show sword battles in late 20th-century New York, but also to explore themes such as the how the passage of time affects people and how problematic eternal life would be. The action scenes are not spectacular for today's standards, but I think they work. The atmosphere, from medieval Scottish plains to dirty and dark New York back alleys, is impeccable. Although the side characters might not be very complex, the protagonist's personality does change throughout the film, making him enjoyable to watch. I also find that Christopher Lambert was a great choice for the lead. The British band Queen ended up writing a few songs for this film which, somehow blending perfectly with the story, are one of the main elements that make Highlander unique.

Highlander keeps its mystery as far as the origins of the Immortals are concerned, and it concludes in what was, for me, an unpredictable fashion as we learn what the Prize is. Many attempts at following the story up with sequels have been made, but it's virtually agreed that they all fall short. In the end, as the famous line goes, "there can be only one!"
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Highlander is low
Samiam317 July 2010
The sheer idiocy of Highlander just surprises me. It is so clumsily assembled and preposterously written that I find it hard to believe that what I saw on screen was the original plan of director Russell Mulcahy. At any rate, the fact still stands that Highlander is lame.

With that said, I suppose it has a little to offer. There are a few nice shots, a few more 'very' nice ones, and a couple of mildly enjoyable fight scenes. Unfortunately, there is also weak acting, even weaker dialogue, messy editing, and music ques which come in all the wrong places. Most of all though, Highlander is just dumb. It has nowhere to go really, and so instead it just seems to go in circles. When all is said and done, the picture doesn't deliver enough to be worth a hundred minute time investment.
25 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
My favorite movie
Freddy_Boy13 May 2007
It's hard for me to be objective about Highlander. I do receive a few remarks when I tell people which my favorite movie is and I agree: Highlander is not for everyone.

It's not a marvel in terms of special effects. It's not a perfect story and it doesn't try to serve any ultimate answers to any of the questions raised in the movie. This was later attempted in the second movie which nearly could have brought down the entire franchise right there and then.

However, this isn't the second movie, it's the first. And in many ways Highlander is in fact unique. The story is imaginative and creative. I've seen few movies pull of such an epic story with such small means. You don't need one million orcs in a raging battlefield to make it epic. Two men fencing it out in a parking garage is actually just fine.

The soundtrack is really great as well as the choreography. The fights are very convincing too. This isn't the ordinary dancing type, Errol Flynn-like fencing scene. This is no holds barred fencing.

Christopher Lambert in the lead role feels like a natural choice. He has a bad habit of taking himself too seriously. For Highlander this works exceptionally well though. He doesn't act really act he simply is Connor MacLeod, the Immortal Highlander, acting as an antique dealer. It's really fascinating to behold.

Clancy Brown created movie history with Highlander. Kurgan is one of the few movie villains I believe people can remember. He's no Darth Vader but he's a villain that makes an impression.

As I mentioned I am very partial in my rating of Highlander.. But it really is a great movie and an epic story. If all else fails, it's still a decent action movie.

Watch it, chances are you'll like it.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Didn't age well.
JWJanneck9 August 2013
After many years I watched again Highlander. I didn't remember much of it, except that the last time I saw it I came away with a so-so kind of impression. Well, this time it was worse. The movie, or I, didn't age well. Probably both.

Obviously, it's an action flick, so the plot is paper thin, something to do with immortals trying to chop each other's heads off for reasons the writers had the good grace to mostly leave in the dark, and at some point the central conflict gets a little more personal anyway. The plot isn't the problem, by the standards of the genre it's as good as any.

And, of course, being made in the 80ies there is only so much one can expect in terms of technical perfection. The fight scenes are a bit tedious, and the special effects funny, but that, too, isn't really the problem.

One problem is that the acting is uniformly bad. In fact, it's been a while since I saw a cast that failed at their jobs in almost perfect harmony. To be fair, the script doesn't provide a awful lot of opportunity for great acting, but all major actors even fail at the most basic emotions, much less the few instances where some complexity might have been nice. In part that is also the fault of script, direction, and photography; a good example is a very emotional moment between our hero and his wife, which is filled with stilted monologue, quick glances at Lambert's expressionless face, and then sweeping landscape shots to illustrate the enormity of the emotion that the actor didn't.

The story itself is confused, and the characters are difficult to care for, and cartoonish. A few immortals pop into (and often quickly out of, in ways that make a mockery of the concept of "immortal") the storyline, but we never really learn much about them (with the exception of a little bit of background on Connery's character). The modern love story is contrived and ludicrous, and as much just a pretext for a little bit of mild nudity and humping as the rest is for the fight scenes. It's a carelessly strung together collection of stuff that is best not taken too seriously.

Another small annoyance is the music --- good pieces by Queen, but as a soundtrack to a movie too intrusive.

I guess it might still work for fans, but I doubt a modern viewer will get much pleasure from this movie. The premise is good enough for an action flick, but the execution just isn't very good.
13 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Unintentional comedy
Bored_Dragon21 October 2018
As a child, in the late eighties, I loved this movie and I was able to watch it over and over again countless times. Three decades later I spent two hours in nostalgic boredom. This movie can be good only to a child, and ironically, it's R rated and not intended for children. It is based on an interesting idea about the existence of a small number of immortals scattered around the globe and destined to wait for a certain time when they'll meet and fight each other until there's only one left. Unfortunately, this premise is not well-developed and it's full of holes and illogicalities. The wooden acting of Christopher Lambert is plain boring, while the brilliant Sean Connery is totally underutilized and Clancy Brown is at the same time the main villain and a comic relief, a combination that could work well only in comedies and which has no place in this movie. Duels are probably the weakest point of the film, as the swordsmen who have had centuries to perfect their skill seem like five-year-olds fighting with sticks. As far as the effects are concerned, I am aware that they could not have been much better in 1986, but they are largely unnecessary and without them the film would be much more convincing. Not everything has to be explicitly shown to the viewer, and a good director would find a way to replace more difficult effects with the imagination of the viewer. Objectively, the only real quality here is Queen's music that stretches through the entire movie. Subjectively - I do not like Queen. The main reason why I did not give a lower rating is a few really hilarious scenes that I was fairly laughing about, primarily a duel for insulting honor where drunk Highlander persistently refuses to die, as well as Kurgan's crazy driving and making faces behind the wheel. I also have to mention the scene of death of Highlander's first wife that, although less and less with every watching because it's poorly done, still shakes me every time and even induce a tear.

6/10
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
There Can Be Only One...Freddie Mercury
Eye-on-the-pie-in-the-sky30 December 2005
Grown men wielding gold-hilted swords, a seven-foot Russian screaming like Jamie Lee Curtis and Sean Connery dressed in peacock feathers – hmmm…not quite gay enough. How about we drench the thing in music from the queens in the band Queen? Perfect!

A medieval-Scotland-meets-latrinesque-New-York-City rock opera fantasy is "Highlander" - it's as if this movie were MADE to be the second feature in a double-billing starting with "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." In it we've got the titular hero named Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) gliding through history's wars and conflicts as an immortal. "You were born that way," says Ramirez (Sean Connery). How? Why? Who gives a kilt? We've got these two not-so-macho men fencing on a picturesque Scottish plateau with inexplicable lightning pounding down all around them and Freddie Mercury belting it out like the fat lady! Suhweet!

An inevitable conflict is brewing for the future known as the "gathering" in which all the immortals must, well, gather together in order to chop each other's heads off. Seriously. But enough synopsizing, there's no further point in doing so for this self-congratulating pageantry. What struck me as interesting was the constant in each time period of the film - violence: Scottish wars, World War II and (don't laugh) modern professional wrestling Hulk Hogan-style. The bonafide and the spurious forms of conflict on display unmistakably express man's strange necessity for violence in his life. But a gayed-up Sean Connery effectively muddles this axiomatic inference for most spectators.
21 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of the best films of all time!
Jonathan Horner18 April 2000
Well, what can I say about Highlander apart from FANTASTIC! This film has it all, it's got a brilliant storyline, amazing actors and dazzling sound effects.

Christopher Lambert plays Connor Macloed, born over 400 years ago in the Highlands of Scotland, he is immortal. He has to battle down then centuries fighting other immortals (some good some evil) until the time of the gathering, where the few who remain will battle it out until only one remains. The last immortal wins "The Prize" power beyond human imagination.

The actors are brilliant, Lambert is a really good actor but very underrated he plays Connor. Sean Connery, who plays Ramirez, is Connor's mentor, he trains Connor up to fight against other immortals. Clancy Brown plays the Kurgan, he is Connor's nemisis, he is the strongest of all immortals and he is also very evil. Roxanne Hart plays a female scientist and detective, she wants to find out more about Connor, so she's soon hot on his tail.

Highlander is one of those films that you can watch over and over again and you won't get bored. I feel Highlander is a very underrated film as well. Highlander is a very obsessive film, I've been obsessed with it for 2 years now!

Overall, if you haven't seen it yet go and buy it, it's the one to watch!
13 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
One of the worst films I have ever seen
fred-houpt24 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I sat through just over an hour of this film until I just had to turn it off. I don't know, but it kept occurring to me that this film was what you get when you put Monty Python and Braveheart into a blender and give the slurry to a hack director with second rate special effects. Everything about this film was awful. The impossibly bland, wooden and hopelessly second rate acting of Christopher Lambert. The utterly wasted talents of Sean Connery. The unimpressive sword fighting (why is it that every time they have a sword fight they manage to hit something that emits loud hissing gases?) The special effects that (others here have commented) as being so great, I am sorry they are not; they are cheesy, third rate and laughable. The soundtrack by Queen is the worst music they made.

There are lots of very fine movies made out of legends but this one lacks a solid script, good actors, direction that has a direction, a soundtrack that has left the 1980's behind, etc. I better stop now because I can't believe I actually put myself through an hour of wasted time. Beware: there be stinks yonder that yea best avoid.
25 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
3.5/5 stars? Are people on crack????
robertestx10 February 2019
This movie is nothing short of a classic. The marriage of Freddie Mercury's amazing vocals singing "Who wants to live forever" the orchestral movements of their songs plus other Queen songs ties into the scenes of the Scottish Highlands and New York City like no other movie has. A perfect marriage of the right song for the right scene or dialogue can make or break a movie and in The Highlander - it makes it. Perfection. I don't want to get into the movie details - that's been expounded upon enough, but what I will say is that if someone watches this movie and doesn't enjoy the rich tapestry of the cinematography, the music and the storyline itself. Well they are either an incredible movie snob, or blind and deaf. The protagonist in the movie is awesome as well. Exuding evil and from the beginning you know a clash between Conner and his Evilness is nothing short of mandatory. Yes, The Highlander is a one of a kind movie. Amazing soundtrack, plenty of action and also a storyline that consists of centuries woven down into a just under a 2 hour tale. That took craftsmanship. I think people don't think of it in those terms, they just grade it on whether it meets their lofty ideals of what a movie should be. But if you're the type of person who can sit back and appreciate epic sword battles, or a particular scene with Freddie singing "Who wants to live forever" and you see a man in the 1500-1600's loving a woman with his entire being, knowing that he ultimately will see her die. The passion of that romance, then you will enjoy this movie from start to finish. If you don't enjoy it, then your movie critiques only come from your head and not your heart. Watch this movie and then watch it again. I'm actually writing this review after watching it for the umpteenth time. I really don't even know how many times. But in some not too distant future I will watch it again, enjoying it as fully as the first time.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Good Story points, bad dialoge.
artursquaresma20 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Just ended watching this unknown franchise. I founded this by my dad talked this to me.

Weird start in movie at the wrestling arena, but after that the scene of sword fighting was funny. The budget to this movie was just for the explosions and cars broken and stuff.

In other points the movie is a fun to watch. Great point in characters influence in the history. It seems that can only be be one.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed