This is certainly one of the great 80s movies in my opinion.
Highlander is very much in the same vein as a vampire film, but more masculine. The difference being that Highlander has swords and Queen (the band). Highlander shows us a world with immortal beings that live through centuries and/or millenniums carrying the appearance of youth. While a stake to the heart won’t kill them a sword that swiftly takes the head will, and the victor will absorb the power of their kill. The immortals are few and far between, they live secretly amongst mortals and seek to take out other immortals because as the famous tagline goes, “There can be only one”. The last one standing is said to effectively be given the power to save the world or destroy it.
Highlander starts in the present day with our protagonist Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) patiently waiting for a fight with another who has sought him out. The two pull out long swords in an underground parking lot and begin to fight to the death. It’s an absurd scene in the modern world that is filled with guns. But we intercut with the sixteenth century in the Highlands of Scottland. Here we see Connor slain on the battlefield. After some time he comes back to life and his clansmen exile him as they see him to be a devil in disguise. Learning this we understand why the battle in the present is so archaic. Throughout the film, we intercut from the present to the pivotal moments in Connor’s history that help us understand the mythology of the film and the immortals. Like any good vampire film, the hero will fall in love with a mortal and will be forced to outlive them or let them go. Connor also finds a mentor in Ramírez (Sean Connery) that teaches him the way of the immortal. The rest of the film involves Connor being hunted down by an evil immortal that has searched for him across centuries. And the question at the end is who will become the last immortal and win the prize destined to the last of their kind.
Highlander is a standalone film, and given the finale, it has a definitive ending. So it seems bizarre that it became a franchise of feature films, and a television show (with a spin-off show). From what I hear the second Highlander film is one of the worst films ever made, and the third film doesn’t acknowledge the second film’s existence. It has been years since we have had any new Highlander anything. A reboot has been in the pipeline for years now and even Tom Cruise was set to star in it at one point, but for now, it appears to be shelved. Highlander is a story with such great mythology that it could be rebooted into a series of films that could match the biggest franchises. There is so much more that could be fleshed out and expanded that wasn’t initially in the original film. The choreography is pretty dated by today’s standards and that could look amazing today as well as the special effects.
While the Highlander reboot may be far away there is a whole Highlander universe I’m itching to explore, even if it has some low points. This first film is a seminal fantasy film of good versus evil, and if you haven’t seen it, do so.