Highlander (1986) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The popularity of this movie is a mystery to me, but it has managed to attain a cult following over the years, despite provoking critical guffaws and being a box office flop.

Young guys continue to love it, and additional generations of them continue to adopt it 15 years after it was made.

The story is muddled. Random people throughout history are born or somehow become immortal. They hang out for a few centuries until they run into another immortal, at which point they must try to whack each other's heads off with swords. When they receive any other injuries, sometimes they hurt and seem to cause physical damage, but their injuries are soon repaired. Whacking another immortal's head off is the only way to make them unimmortal. I would have said "mortal", but I then realized that a dead body is rather beyond mortality. When this happens, we see lightning and fireworks tantamount to celebrating a home run at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. 

All the immortals just wander around like this for centuries until they all receive their invitation to New York City for the gathering, which is like a joust to the death until only one guy is left, and is considered an event as prestigious as Wrestlemania itself. The winner of the jousting event becomes something like a god - omniscient and omnipotent, but also maybe he becomes mortal again, so his godliness is kind of wasted in the same way that youth is wasted on the young. 

In this version, let's see, we have a Scot who doesn't have a Scottish accent teamed up with an Egyptian-Spanish Conquistador who DOES have a Scottish accent, and .... oh, hell ...

Sean Connery is his usual self, of course, but his costume had me in stitches. He looked like a doorman at a Las Vegas theme hotel. He is the one who trained Christopher Lambert in the time-honored skill of immortal head chopping, and I thought maybe after the fighting lessons, Lambert was supposed to tip him. 


Beatie Edney was topless ever so briefly

Roxanne Hart shows breasts in a very dark sex scene near the end

Lambert himself is to underacting what Shatner is to overacting. They call this intensity, I guess. I think I saw him blink once. That was the sum of his emotions. Supposedly, he learned how to talk like this just for the movie. Huh? Then how does he explain that he talked the same way in earlier movies? I saw Lambert on a talk show once when he said his strange accent was "Swiss". (He was born on Long Island, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't sound like a native of Queens). Say, maybe Lambert is the only one who speaks this language, and has spoken it since the Romans invaded. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 1.85:1

  • Full-length commentary

Why --- he really is an immortal.

This thing seems like a parody of the sword/sorcery genre. Did Mel Brooks secretly direct it?


Highlander (1986) was just re-released in a special edition, and, since I didn't own it, I picked it up. I will say that the transfer is very good, and, for me, some of the imagery is the only worthwhile part of this film. Even then, the historical scenes were intentionally shot with a grainier film stock, and so were not all that clean even with a good transfer. The enhanced sound enabled Queen to irritate me even more than ever.

As far as I am concerned, the story is of a 300 year old guy who spent all of that time around sharp metal objects (swords) but never learned to shave, and his inevitable battle to the death with an evil punk rocker.

The film has many admirers, but I am not among them. The sword and sorcery crowd think this is the finest of its kind. In my drinking days, I once had the greatest hangover I had ever had, but I certainly didn't enjoy it. You might guess that I am not a member of that sword and sorcery crowd. The photography in parts is something special, but the fighting scenes are rather over-choreographed, and the cables and safety rigging seem way too obvious during most of the stunts.

It has little crossover appeal, so the score is probably C+. Speaking for myself alone, I would rate it lower.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.1, 
  • With their dollars ... it bombed, with only six million dollars domestic gross, contrasted to a fifteen million dollar budget.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. For genre addicts only. (Tuna C+)

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