“There can be only one”. Sometimes films can transcend the era they’re made in, and sometimes you get Highlander, the 1986 Action/Fantasy film staring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, and Clancy Brown. Let’s just start out and say that the film is very much of it’s time. The special effects, fighting styles, acting, and set design are clearly not up to today’s standards, yet this film remains a cult classic and receives a hefty 7.2 on IMDB. Clearly the film has many fans, but am I one of them?
The film begins with a sloppy analogy between wrestling in the modern day and flashbacks to ancient Scotland where men fought for their freedom. Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod is in both scenes immediately showing that he’s an immortal. The ancient storyline continuously inter-cuts with the modern storyline but the basics are that MacLeod is banished from his home, married and as happy as could be until Sean Connery comes to him and reveals that he’s immortal. They begin a Rocky-esque montage of training to become the Highlander and receive the “Prize” for being the only Highlander remaining. The training goes well until MacLeod is off and the big bad of the film The Kurgan played by Clancy Brown comes in and kills Connery is an embarrassment of a fight scene. It’s truly awful. This is last important section in the ancient storyline.
In the modern story we have MacLeod at the wrestling match and when he leaves he finds another immortal in the waiting. They have a very awkward looking fight filled with some lame back flips before MacLeod lops his head off and takes the essence of the man. We learn that The Kurgan is in modern times as well searching for MacLeod so he can be the final Highlander. After some meaningless plot devices setting up the damsel in distress we get the final “epic” showdown with The Kurgan and it goes about like one would expect. I did note the extremely visible wire used to hold up Christopher Lambert during the final Prize scene.
It’s pretty easy to tell that I wasn’t really much of a fan of this piece. I do like action films and ones from the 80’s are some of my favorites of all time but this was simply too much. The acting was just so over the top by Clancy Brown’s part. I will say that the third act of the film was the strongest and Brown was at time genuinely scary in the car ride he takes with the token woman in the film. I came across the Highlander franchise with the television series and always preferred the style of the show and the actor playing Duncan MacLeod, from the clan MacLeod over Lambert. I even went and saw the horrific third Highlander film, Highlander: The Final Dimension on a date at the theaters in 94. Teetering between just awful scenes and the so bad it’s good realm of film-making, the showdown between The Kurgan and Sean Connery has to go down as the worst fight scene in 365 in 365. Here’s hoping I don’t have to endure a competitor to that distinguished “Prize”.