“Here we are. Born to be kings, we’re the princes of the universe.” So at work today, I had an 80’s playlist going on Spotify and this song came on. I thought it was pretty fitting since it happens to be the theme song for today’s movie….actually, for the whole franchise. You would think that a movie that was not well received and did not make much in the box office would not become a recognized cult phenomenon. Who am I kidding. That is exactly the kind of movie that becomes a cult phenomenon. So let’s get those swords a swinging as I watch today’s movie, Highlander.
The plot: During a wrestling match at Madison Square Garden, Connor MacLeod, known as The Highlander, heads to the arena’s garage where he winds up in a duel with Iman Fasil. Connor wins the duel and cuts off Fasil’s head, unleashing a surge of energy that he absorbs. Doing so causes him to flashback to 16th century Scotland, where Connor was involved in a battle between to Scottish clans and he was killed by a mercenary named “The Kurgan”. Back to the present, Connor hides his sword and attempts to leave the arena but is arrested by the police, who question him regarding Fasil’s death. While this is going on, forensics expert, Brenda J. Wyatt, recognizes the sword found in the garage as a rare Toledo Salamanca worth $1 million. She also studies some trace metal from the body and not believing the test results, heads back to the arena to look for some more samples. Connor sees her there while he is retrieving his sword and follows her to a nearby bar, where he attempts to talk to her but she blows him off. Connor leaves the bar and is followed by by Brenda but they wind up being attacked by The Kurgan, who attempts to kill Connor but is thwarted by a police helicopter. Flashback to the past, where Connor miraculously recovers but his clansmen, thinking that he is possessed by the devil, want to burn him at the stake but instead banish him from the village. In the present, Brenda is trying to get some more information on Russell Nash, Connor’s current identity, while Connor is doing maintenance on his sword and looking at a book on ancient sword making that Brenda wrote. Flashback to the past, where Connor and his wife, Heather, are met by Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, another immortal who becomes a mentor to Connor and explains what he has become as well as preparing Connor to be able to defend himself. One night, Ramirez and Heather are talking while Connor is at a nearby village when The Kurgan shows up seeking Connor. Ramirez battles The Kurgan, managing to slice his neck, but The Kurgan overpowers Ramirez and eventually beheads him. In the present, Connor finds himself drawing closer to Brenda and, after she confronts him about the different aliases he has used, he shows her proof of his immortality. Connor meets up with another immortal named Sunda Kastagir and, after reminiscing over old times, they comment on the fact that the Gathering is occurring. Kurgan finds Kastagir and kills him, as well as a witness to the killing, then uses Brenda to draw out Connor for the final battle. Connor eventually wins the battle and after receiving the final quickening, he finds himself mortal and returns to Scotland with Brenda.
Highlander was not well received when it first came out but after becoming a cult hit, it currently holds a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics that liked it praised the original approach to what could have been a cliched idea. Unfortunately, the audiences didn’t care much for it in the states, although the better showing overseas did help much to earn it’s over $12 million at the box office. Still, once it was available top rent, it wound up becoming a cult hit that spawned 4 sequels as well as a television and cartoon series.
I like this movie, It’s not a mega blockbuster or anything like that, but it was a pretty well written sci-fi/fantasy film. The acting was decent and though he was the star, Christopher Lambert really didn’t stand out too much. Sean Connery (Ramirez) and Clancy Brown (Kurgan) really stole the show. The scene where Kurgan kidnaps Brenda and is driving in his car is really funny. I thought the plot was pretty unique and had a nice twist to the story of immortal beings. The action was ok with some sword fights being better than others. Yes, there were some parts that were bad with this movie. You have the first fight with Iman where he is doing flips in the parking garage. And of course, the quickening after the last battle looked like something from a bad acid trip. Still, it is worth watching, if anything just to see how the legend of The Highlander got started.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5