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Review: Highlander - Immortal Edition

Posted: Wed, 14th Mar 2007, 3:38pm

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Simon K Jones

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The Details


  • Title: Highlander: Immortal Edition
  • Director: Russell Mulcahy
  • Cast: Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown, Sean Connery
  • Running time: 116 minutes
  • Cert: 15 (UK)
  • Release: Out now

The Movie

The 1980s classic is back on DVD, this time as the brilliantly named ‘Immortal Edition’ in a nice tin box. Highlander is an unusual fantasy epic, following the long life of Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) as he discovers his fate to be repeatedly put to the test by other Immortals, fighting to the death until ‘there can be only one’.

There’s almost two films at work here – the modern-day, New York-set finale with the evil Kurgan (Clancy Brown) and flashbacks to MacLeod’s origins in 16th century Scotland. Majorly compelling cinematography brings both settings vividly to life, with the epic, sun-drenched Scottish mountains contrasting hugely with the grimy, shadowy urban landscape. It’s a surprisingly experimental film visually, never taking the obvious lighting option and frequently conjuring up highly memorable images.

Rather confusing matters is the casting, which places Sean Connery – the world’s most recognisable Scot – in the role of a Spanish chevalier, while Christopher Lambert struggles as a Scottish warrior beneath an incongruous French accent. Clancy Brown is far more successful as the villainous Kurgan, delivering a powerhouse performance that contains just the right balance of ham, cheese and danger.

Highlander’s defining trait, however, will always be that it is very, very Eighties. An operatic rock score is provided by none other than Queen and there’s a clear influence from music videos of the day in the lighting, editing and performances. Unlike many other dated Eighties ‘classics’, however, its stylings suit it well and, while undeniably a product of its time, it is still an extremely watchable, if far-fetched, adventure.

The Extras

Anything that dares call itself an ‘Immortal Edition’ needs to have some seriously impressive features to back up its claim. Accompanying the movie itself is a new commentary from director Mulcahy that is both info-packed and entertaining, detailing every aspect of the production from the innovative camerawork to the questionable casting. Particularly touching is his clear admiration for Queen’s musical contribution, with Freddie Mercury’s life and death never far from his thoughts.

Disc two isn’t quite as successful. A 90-minute Making Of documentary sounds promising but is strangely limited, featuring interviews with only a handful of the film’s cast and crew and suffering from a frustrating lack of archive footage. The interviews are certainly extensive, giving the writers in particular far more screentime than other documentaries would allow, but it becomes a little monotonous and the absence of Mulcahy, Connery, Brown and Lambert is sorely felt.

A much shorter, French interview with Lambert is included separately and is a more interesting affair, with Lambert still genuinely enthusiastic about the franchise’s core concept after all these years. While disc two has a distinct feel of quantity over quality, there’s nevertheless some interesting anecdotes, particularly from the original writer who penned the cult classic before leaving college.

The director’s commentary on disc one and the excellent audio-visual quality of the movie itself make the package worth investigating, especially if you’re already a fan of the movie. If you’ve yet to experience Highlander, you’ll discover a vital part of Eighties pop culture that has stood the test of time and which has already proved to be far more ‘immortal’ than this specific DVD set.

Posted: Wed, 14th Mar 2007, 3:49pm

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NickF

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Mellifluous in the Pulse thread wrote:

Lol...after that review, think Paramount'll be sending more dvd's? wink
Heh... Unless its not with Paramount...

Great to see another review. Might get this when I get home based on it smile
Posted: Wed, 14th Mar 2007, 3:53pm

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Simon K Jones

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Glad you're enjoying the reviews, Digi! No competition this time round unfortunately, but we'll be working to try and arrange more cool things for you guys in the near future.

Oddly, I'd never seen Highlander before writing this review which, for someone my age at least, is fairly unthinkable. I'd certainly be interested to hear what some of the younger FXhomers think of the film, who didn't 'benefit' from actually growing up in the Eighties. razz
Posted: Wed, 14th Mar 2007, 5:02pm

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Waser

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I have a sudden urge to belt out Lost Horizon at the top of my lungs.
Posted: Wed, 14th Mar 2007, 5:50pm

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petet2

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Any chance of a competition to win this one or have you bagged it for your collection? wink
Posted: Wed, 14th Mar 2007, 7:56pm

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skywalker dan

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the first time i ever watched this was actually at my dads place on a small scottish island called islay on the west coast. that was over 12 years ago.

however i also remember fashioning a sword out of some wood i found in the wooded area out the back of his house and spending a lot of time fighting my younger brother. ah great days.

and untill i saw this review i actually forgot about those days.

you cant beat a bit of highlander with connerys over the top costume. classic.

dan.
Posted: Thu, 15th Mar 2007, 12:10am

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Lior

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I love Highlander. I have watched and have all the tv seires and every movie made. I have the last movie they made "End Game". It had a way better extras section. I can't wait for the new production of the Highlander to come out. IMDB says the time will soon come.

http://imdb.com/title/tt0299981/
Posted: Thu, 15th Mar 2007, 6:30pm

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Sollthar

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Very good review Master Simon! smile
Though you entirely forgot the films best artistic effort:

The absolutely brilliant OST by Michael Kamen!



I recommend having a listen to the orchestral version of it. It's one of Kamens finest scores. Forget Queen...
Posted: Fri, 16th Mar 2007, 9:14am

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, it's a great score, though I'm sure I recognised several cues from X-Men. smile
Posted: Sun, 18th Mar 2007, 4:22am

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Kid

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and in the sequels it gets even more confusing!
Posted: Sun, 18th Mar 2007, 6:36am

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Atom

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Grew up in the eighties? I survived 4 good days of it, hearing the lines:

December 28th-"ThunderCAAAAAATTTTS!"
December 29th-"We built this City......We built this city on ROOOCK and ROOOLLL!"
December 30th-"Dadadadadump!......Kiss!"

And of course:

December 31st-"Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in The Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people. "

Classic-est.
Movie.
Ever.