Oldies Review: Highlander
This would qualify as one of those films that are so bad that it is actually good. It suffers from campy performances from all of it's leads but all at once, it works. It's an odd thing and hard to describe as the best advice I could give with Highlander is too simply watch it for yourself. At the core it is a story about a man who has a constant struggle with his immortality and even more his loneliness. He falls in love, only to watch the one he loves age and die, while he stays the same. It is an unfair torture that he constantly has to suffer through. It certainly was one of the better action films that came out of the 80's and helped shape some of the action films we get to date. With that being said, it is a generational kind of film where people that had grown up in the 80's will enjoy it more as it was apart of their childhood. As a side note to me, as a fan of the show Supernatural, I could help but to see the similarity between Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod and the angel Castiel. Yes, they both wear trench coats and give long, deep stares with the slicked back black hair.
The story is fairly simple as it follows Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) in modern times watching a wrestling match which then forces him to remember his time in the 1500's when he was in his MacLeod clan. He is in fact the Highlander, an immortal warrior destined to fight others of his kind. After leaving the wrestling match he is met by a man like himself named Iman Fasil, and the two draw swords to do battle. After a lengthy battle, Connor defeats him by slicing his head off. After doing so, the power inside of Iman is then transferred to Connor. Connor then begins to think more about his past, for instance when he first met paths with the Kurgan (Clancy Brown). The Kurgan bested Connor in a battle by stabbing him in the chest. Connor was believed to be dead, but only his father seemed to know that he is a Highlander and in fact, not dead from the stab. After Connor awakes, the people of his clan believes that he is alive by the devil's work and see to it that he be punished for it. With his hands tied to a wooden beam he is then exiled from his clan, set on the world by himself with no knowledge of his power. Fast forward five years later and he is sought out by fellow Highlander Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery). Ramirez trains him in battle and teaches him what it means to be a Highlander.
Ramirez explains to Connor that there can only be one, and whoever is the last is then awarded the fabled "Prize." He also explains that if the Kurgan is the one to receive this "Prize" then the world would be plunged into an infinite darkness. Thus it is up to them to make sure that does not happen. Of course, like every hero story, Connor does not buy into the fact that he is really immortal. After being thrown underwater when he cannot swim, he realizes that he cannot be killed unless his head is severed by his body much like others of his kind. The rest of the film follows Connor as he struggles to live with a woman that he loves in both the 1500's and in more modern times. In the 1500's, he lives with a woman that Ramirez implores to Connor to leave as nothing good will come from the relationship. While he disagrees, he simply stays with her and watches her fade away to die of old age. In the modern times he meets Brenda, a detective that he begins to develop feelings for and protects her when the Kurgan closes in on him and the people he is close too.
It is quite the campy film when you watch it for the first time now, but it still is entertaining. This film marks the first film that Clancy Brown played a villain, which he has done for a long time now. He does a very good job in the role of the Kurgan, although at times he is slightly over the top, but not as much as say Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. Speaking of Sean Connery, it was incredibly weird to see him in a movie of this type. He didn't seem to fit his role and was more himself that the actual character. Christopher Lambert has his moments where he is incredibly imposing as Connor and then you wonder how he manages to win fights at all when you see how terribly he acts out his fights. He constantly looks off balance and even at times looks as if he isn't confident in battle, which detracts from his character. The editing of the film was odd, most notably in the battle between Ramirez and Kurgan. It wasn't always clear as to what was going on, and with more time spent through the process then the fight scene would have been that much better. All together though, it is a decent action film despite it's flaws.