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  Highlander There Can Be Only One (Apart From The Others)
Year: 1986
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Stars: Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart, Clancy Brown, Sean Connery, Beatie Edney, Alan North, Jon Polito, Sheila Gish, Hugh Quarshie, Christopher Malcolm, Peter Diamond, Billy Hartman, James Cosmo, Celia Imrie, Alistair Findlay, Edward Wiley, James McKenna
Genre: Action, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 4 votes)
Review: New York City in the present day, and there's a wrestling match being staged at Madison Square Gardens, yet while the crowd goes wild for the antics of the combatants, one member of the audience sits still, deep in thought. He is Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), and he is being reminded of a time when he was a brave warrior - a time four and a half centuries ago, in Scotland. Connor now calls himself Russell Nash and works as an antique dealer, but tonight his past will come back to haunt him as he is confronted in the parking lot by a sword wielding businessman. Luckily, Connor has his own sword on him, and a brutal fight to the death ensues, with Connor the victor - but he has drawn attention to himself, and there are others who will happily see him dead...

Out of the umpteen action adventures released during the nineteen eighties, particularly from Cannon, Highlander was the one of those which unexpectedly found one of the most enduring audiences, particularly in Europe. Written by Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood and Larry Ferguson, it was sort of a variation on The Terminator, only instead of the heroes and villains from another time hailing from the future, they had arrived from the distant past through sheer longevity. The film seems curiously reluctant to explain itself, stepping back and forward through the years with little concern for continuity, and taking it as read that the viewer will understand who the Immortals are and what they want without bothering to explain to any great extent.

As a result, many found it confusing, but ironically this increased the passion those who did understand felt for the story and its swooningly romantic mixture of love and violence, mostly dispensed at the blade of a mighty sword. After the body of the Immortal is found, sans head, in the parking lot the police are called in, and quickly hold Connor for questioning, but he refuses to talk and they have to release him. Still, the interest of a weapons expert, Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart), is piqued and she ventures back to the scene of the crime to do a spot of sleuthing. There she bumps into Connor, who is retrieving his hidden sword, and a relationship begins thanks to the film's chief villain making an entrance.

He is The Kurgan, played with great relish by a gravel voiced Clancy Brown, and he is determined to chop off Connor's head so he will be well on the way to being the last of the Immortals, and being last gets you a special prize. Connor has met The Kurgan before, on the battlefield in Scotland in the 16th Century, where he was wounded but not killed by his foe. This resulted in Connor (who appears to wear a tablecloth instead of a kilt) being ostracised by his clan and banished for not having the decency to die and therefore a witch of some kind. All this is intercut with the New York scenes with quite some abandon, quite effectively at times, though distractedly in others.

As if that all wasn't preposterous enough, in the past, French Lambert playing a Scotsman with a seriously dodgy accent suddenly meets with Scotsman Sean Connery playing an Spanish Egyptian, and guess which accent he uses? Connery is Ramirez, something of a dandy, who teaches Connor in the ways of the Force (or whatever), and seems solely to have been cast to underline the Scottish connection. Yes, even though he's not Scottish in the film. Hm. Anyway, amid all the blood and thunder, there's space set aside for sentiment, and unexpectedly there is a truly poignant sequence where the long lasting Connor has to outlive Heather (Beatie Edney), his true love. After that it's a return to the action where Connor has to save his, er, next true love Brenda from The Kurgan and those bits are staged with appropriate bombast, but for a film which takes itself so seriously there's a definite sense of daftness threatening to creep in at all times. It's a potent mixture, nonetheless. Music by Michael Kamen and Queen (which isn't a patch on their Flash Gordon soundtrack).

[For the 30th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray and DVD from Studio Canal, there are a host of extras for fans and newcomers alike:

• New interview with Russell Mulcahy, lots of reminiscences about his background and what it was like to make
• New interview with Christopher Lambert, ranging from the mystical to the practical, plus an archive interview for good measure
• Deleted scenes
• Making of doc in 4 parts which looks a little older than the new interviews, but is so extensive you probably don't need to listen to...
• Audio commentary with Russell Mulcahy
• and finally an HD trailer]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Russell Mulcahy  (1953 - )

Australian director with a flashy visual style. A former music video director - most notably for Duran Duran - Mulcahy made an impact in 1984 with his first real film, the Outback creature feature Razorback. 1986's fantasy thriller Highlander was a big cult hit, and its success led to a foray in Hollywood in the 1990s, which included thrillers Ricochet and The Real McCoy, the superhero yarn The Shadow and the sequel Highlander II: The Quickening. Subsequent work has largely been in TV.

 
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