Highlander

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.

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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.

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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.

Robert Ring

 

 

Risky Business

Risky Business is an 80’s teen film about capitalism and taking chances.


Joel Goodson played by Tom Cruise, in his first leading role, is a teen struggling with the pressures of making the grade. His parents are wealthy enough to own a Porsche and a lovely, sizable house. They leave Joel for a holiday and they tell him that they trust him, but remind him that there are still rules. To Joel his idea of rebelling is to drink his father’s rum while eating one of many frozen dinners left by his mum. Joel’s life is flown into high gear after his best friend Miles gives him advice. Miles basically tells Joel to occasionally take a chance, unbeknownst to him that Joel should take him too literally. Joel lacks confidence with woman, even in his dreams so he phones up a call girl named Lana, played by Rebecca De Mornay. Even while talking over the phone he is scared of what he is doing and he proceeds by cautiously talking to her through a hockey mask. She ends up staying at his house for days, hiding away from her pimp. Everything starts to go wrong for Joel. He starts to become a different man, one in which his new persona wears black sunglasses. He needs money to make up for his escalating mistakes, so for one night he becomes a capitalist. With the help of Lana’s prostitute friends, Joel’s house becomes a whorehouse, to his friends and whoever else he could sell sex to in his neighbourhood.


The director, Paul Brickman has such a vision for this film that it was unlike any teen film of it’s time. It deals with very adult themes while still feeling very innocent. It’s not a film where you object to the morals of characters whom freely pay for sex. It’s a satire in that way. It’s about Joel rolling the dice, taking the big risks to pay for the smaller ones. This film’s soundtrack is amazing. Tangerine Dream composed most of the soundtrack, with my favourite “Love on a Real Train”. Also hits like “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger, a track that is now known in conjunction with the scene as one of cinema’s most memorable, you know the one where Tom Cruise dances to it in just a shirt and socks.


Risky Business is thirty-two years old now but still remains fresh. It isn’t really weighed down with anything that can date it. You can still enjoy this film without being an 80’s film junkie like myself. Personally, Risky Business is one of my favourite films and I watch it yearly. I’ve even been meaning to buy a pair of Joel’s trademark sunglasses.


4/5 – Stars


Robert Ring