It was the 80’s so we can forgive our protagonist for acid wash jeans and white Reebok aerobic trainers, and while we still enjoy The Highlander, it’s not the flawless piece of movie-magic it may have seemed when originally viewed, most likely, on VHS. (The movie tanked at the box office in 1986.) As a matter of fact, it borders on sucking, but this is an enjoyable suck.
First of all, let’s address the obvious right off the bat. “There can be only one.” If this is so, (although 3 crappy sequels and a crappier TV series beg to differ) why didn’t Clancy “The Kurgan” Brown just chop off Connor MacLeod’s head in their very first battle on the shores of Loch Shiel in 1536?
Surely the Kurgan knew MacLeod was destined for immortality, or else he wouldn’t have made such a big deal to Clan Fraser that he, and only he, gets to face off against MacLeod. And don’t tell me he didn’t have time. The Kurgan took his sweet time waiting for a moment to strike, and when he did, he made NO attempt at the lethal head-removing kill-shot.
Now maybe this is explained in one of the crappy sequels, but that’s not the point. The Kurgan knows the rules. Chop off MacLeod’s head, and win “The Prize.” For some reason, The Kurgan stabs MacLeod in the body, and then leaves. There may not be an easier time to slice a guy’s head from his shoulders as when collapsed and bleeding out like an industrial sized garden hose. Jump on the opportunity Kurgan.
Oh yeah, and since there can be only one, and that one wins “The Prize,” and that prize is mortality, what’s the difference to a 400 year old man if he dies by decapitation, or he dies 30 years later from something like emphysema? If you’re over 400, and you get to choose your death, a swordfight battle sounds way cooler than lung failure at 75. Either way, the prize ain’t so great.
Oh yeah again. And since there can only be one, why is Sean Connery teaching MacLeod how to fight? Doesn’t it make sense if there can only be one, that you, wanting to be “The One,” would not train a young protégé all your cool warrior killing tricks, because if there can only be one, there’s a chance he might one day be the other one with the sword in his hand looking to chop off your head at “The Gathering?”
Oh yeah again for the third time – and why does Sean Connery, an Egyptian dressed like a gay Spanish party boy who has spent a great deal of time in Japan have a Scottish accent, when an actual Scotsman (MacLeod) sounds more like Ren Höek from Ren and Stimpy fame?
Here’s a fourth “oh yeah.” Why doesn’t the Kurgan stick around and kill MacLeod after he bests Connery? You figure the Kurgan must be consumed with bloodlust after finally defeating the great Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez – why not wait and execute MacLeod right then and there? The Kurgan’s got to be confident he could kill him, because he just slaughtered Ramirez, and Ramirez was ostensibly a greater, more experienced warrior than MacLeod. It seems logical that after killing a man’s friend, and raping his wife you’ve just given him ample incentive to become a better combatant – plus if you allow him an additional 400 years to get in shape for the fight, you have definitely given up the element of surprise.
Also, falling in love with Brenda seems very weak. If this MacLeod guy was so hung up on his bonnie Heather that he doesn’t seem to have been interested in another chick for 400 years, what makes Brenda so appealing? You know who would have made more sense in the romantic lead? His secretary Rachel. Sure, it would have been a little creepy in a Woody Allen way, because he’s known her since she was a little girl during WWII, but she’s old enough to consent now, and she’s obviously ga-ga in love with him.
Brenda is boring at best, and tried to get him convicted for murder at worst. Rachel would have been a darker, and more realistic choice, but at least you could understand the feelings of love. Why does this Highlander love Brenda? Because she’s a sword aficionado or because she was working to get him arrested or did he really have a fetish for 80’s hair?
A few more “oh yeahs.” The dialogue sucked. Why was there a guy driving around the alleys with a machine gun in his trunk? Doing back flips in a wet parking garage doesn’t seem like a brilliant tactical move in a fight for your life, and there was no real explanation as to why the Kurgan was so evil.
Sorry Highlander fans, but this movie is not the one. Still, if you are male and were born between 1961 and 1978, it’s an absolute pop culture must see.
I rate this movie: “Necessary Crap”