Directed by Russell Mulcahy. Written by Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood, and Larry Ferguson. Starring Christopher Lambert (Connor ‘The Highlander’ Macleod/ Russell Edwin Nash), Clancy Brown (Victor Kruger/The Kurgan), and Sean Connery (Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez).
Bottom line: I am baffled as to why this movie is so famous let alone why it started a franchise.
We learn The Highlander's story from Sean Connery who plays, I kid you not, a 2000 year old Egyptian/Spaniard named Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. That right there should give you an indication of the caliber The Highlander. Anyway, the story is that there exist “Immortals” who roam the Earth hunting each other. They can’t be killed unless they are beheaded. At some arbitrary time in history (which turns out to be 1984), they will be drawn to a far off country to partake in what’s called “The Gathering” where they will fight for “The Prize” which only one can have hence the famous line “There can only be one.”
I found the bizarre transitions somewhat entertaining. That is, they are entertaining in the way a car crash is entertaining; it is more of a morbid curiosity than joy. A shot of the bottom of a lake in Scotland circa 1500, for example, wipes to the bottom of a fish tank. To signal a flashback to WWII the image on the screen shatters with the sound of cannon fire.
In terms of acting, we have three main characters, The Highlander (Lambert), Sean Connery, and Victor Kruger (Brown). I've never been a big Christopher Lambert fan particularly because of his laugh. It makes me feel like kind of a bad person if I dislike the guy because of his laugh, but have you heard it?! It always sounds forced and what is more unfortunate is that he laughs at inappropriate times throughout the movie. It reminded me of Tommy Wassau's laughing in The Room.
I included Sean Connery as a character instead of his ludicrous character name because he's just being Sean Connery in a fluffy red suit. I have a soft spot in my heart for Sean Connery so I'm down for his role as The Highlander's instructor. I never grew emotionally attached to his character, but I could say that about everything in this film.
Victor Kruger is “the Ultimate Warrior,” according to Sean Connery. He is a Russian who has traveled across the world hunting Immortals. Clancy Brown's baritone voice fits the character of Kruger perfectly. I believe one of my favorite scenes in the movie is Kruger's modern day entrance. He is listening to the radio while driving in a 1975 Cadillac Coup DeVille. A reporter is commenting on a series of recent decapitations saying, “Police currently have no suspects.” “I know who it is,” Kruger bellows. He proceeds turn on a cassette of Queen's “Gimme the Prize.” If ever there was a scene in a movie that characterized the 80's. Now, even though he fits the role, there isn't much Brown can do to salvage the movie. His dialog, much like the rest of the dialog, is lacking.
Now, I found Kruger and Connery entertaining but they aren't enough to save this movie. Cheesy special effects are all fine and dandy, in moderation, but there has to be something to balance it out; The Highlander's choreography is on par with some of Star Trek's fight scenes. The cinematography isn't very appealing either. Most of the odd camera angles seem unnecessary and, without any sort of justification, they are more distracting than anything.
Overall, The Highlander is a very 80's fantasy action movie. Would I recommend it? No, not really. The cinematography is blah, as is the acting and dialog. When it comes down to your Friday night movie, there can only be one...so don't let it be The Highlander.