This was my first visit into the world of Highlander and while I felt it’s one of those films that everyone has heard about, unless you grew up in a certain era, it was more doubtful whether you’ve seen it. I had a faint recollection of the movie through older siblings and so to mark the 30th Anniversary of Russell Mulcahy‘s cult favourite, I entered the all-new 4k restoration for the Blu-ray and DVD release.
Highlander tells the time-travelling tale of an age-old battle between immortal warriors and is basically completely bonkers but, having said that, also has a bizarrely unique edge that makes it unlike most things you would have seen. It stars French actor Christopher Lambert (who reminds me of Ghostbusters II Wilhelm Von Homburg’s Vigo) as Scottish clansman Connor MacLeod and Sean Connery as Spanish/Egyptian Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, complete with his Scottish accent.
For those new to the fictional fantasy world, the story flips between 1985 New York and 16th century Scotland. We start in the former where the last remaining immortals are gathering to fight to be the last to survive but, the thing is, only decapitation can take these individuals out of the existence so your basic stabbing or shooting isn’t going to do it. The opening sequence shows us Connor in an epic Car Park sword fight before eventually killing another one of these ‘immortals’ and once dead, he also takes his energy or soul… I would conclude. Thus setting us up for what to expect from future battles.
It’s easy to see why it became a cult classic because although it didn’t really receive the best box office on original release, Europe took it on and loved it while the USA caught up later once it came out on VHS, that’s the old DVD’s kids. Certain elements have dated enormously but there is perfection here with utterly phenomenal scene transitions that effortlessly move us between scenes of the distant past and 1985 New York, I actually struggle to understand how they were achieved considering the changes in tech from then to now.
You should be able to tell from reading this that Highlander confused me. To begin with, I wasn’t sure what was going on at all and even after the original Queen soundtrack pounding, it was difficult to work out whether this was an elaborate music video or something completely brilliant. On reflection, I think it’s a mix of all of the above: Bonkers, unique, full of terrible accents, stunning scene work, and quite possibly way ahead of its time. There are rumours that the remake might star Tom Hardy in the lead role and even though it’s definitely an experience, I’ve got a feeling I’ll return again because after all…there can be only one.
Highlander – 30th Anniversary restoration* – is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 11 July.
*Important to note that it’s been restored by Deluxe London who based it on a 4K scan of the original camera negative, followed by a 4K workflow with the approval of director Russell Mulcahy.