I have the theory that Highlander was caused by Gregory Widen wanting to write about people with long coats wearing katanas fighting in present day New York. He then had this excellent idea of inmortals fighting through different ages for a prize.

The first movie was very good. Astounding visuals, very cool sword fights and Sean Connery. Later they had to ruin it with parts two and three, which were absolutely awful. At least the TV series were nice, even if they didn't even try to be coherent with the movie; they ruined it again by mixing up the original movie and the series in the fourth movie, which was bad.

A movie which spawned several tv spinoffs and sequals.
Aside from immortals named MacLeod there is little to tie the various components together.
It has spanned three movies, and soon a fourth:
  1. Highlander
  2. Highlander II: The Quickening
  3. Highlander III: The Sorcerer
  4. Highlander IV: Endgame
and three TV series:
  1. Highlander: The Series
  2. Highlander: The Animated Series
  3. Highlander: The Raven
Compiled overview of the 90 ton Highlander 'Mech, from various BattleTech novels and game sourcebooks:



A multiple-purpose assault 'Mech with a variety of capabilities, the ninety-ton Highlander was assigned to nearly every Star League Army unit soon after its introduction in 2592. Though slow-moving with a maximum speed of only 54 kph, the Highlander can jump up to ninety meters, easily clearing almost any obstacle. In doing so the 'Mech causes considerable damage to the terrain around its lift-off point.

Though the Highlander's massive HildCo jump jets were designed to lift the BattleMech over inconveniently placed buildings, initial combat trials showed that Highlander pilots often used them to execute the popular death from above maneuver. The engineers re-designed the structure and armor of the lower legs and switched to sturdy Lang composite armor so that the Highlander's actuators could withstand the repeated stress caused by this devastating maneuver. The jump jets were also designed to allow a pilot to automatically redirect the force of his jets to compensate for landing on a moving foe. Over the years, a Highlander's death from above attack became known as a "Highlander burial".

In addition to its jump capability, the Highlander carries fifteen and a half tons of Grumman-3 ferro-fibrous armor with built-in CASE, plus a diverse array of weapons well-suited to the confused maelstrom of combat.

The 'Mech's primary weapon is the Gauss rifle, which uses a series of magnets to propel the shell through the barrel toward the target. The system requires large amounts of power to magnetize the projectile coils, but produces very little heat. Its low heat buildup enables the MechWarrior to keep up a nearly continuous barrage without stressing the Highlander's heat sinks. The Gauss rifle's position, mounted on the right arm, gives the pilot a wide firing arc that allows him to fire to the rear when the 'Mech's torso is rotated completely to the right. A pair of Holly missile launchers (LRM and SRM), and twin Harmon Starclass medium lasers support the Gauss rifle.

The long-range missiles in the left torso scour the enemy; allowing the short-range missiles, mounted behind the left hand, to exploit the gaps left in the armor by the bigger weapons.

The pair of torso-mounted medium lasers round out the weapons package. They permit the Highlander to engage in hand-to-hand combat with both hands free and serve to protect the MechWarrior when the ammunition finally runs low.



Note: Information used here was the domain of FASA before they split the rights between Wizkids LLC and Microsoft (table-top gaming and video games respectively). Copyright of the fluff text is in limbo, but names of persons, places, & things are without any doubt the property of Wizkids LLC. Use of any terms here related to the BattleTech trademark are not meant as a challenge to Wizkids LLC's rights.
General info:
Credits:
Year: 1986
Director: Russell Mulcahy

Cast:

Christopher Lambert --Connor MacLeod

Roxanne Hart --Brenda Wyatt

Clancy Brown --Kurgan

Sean Connery --Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez

Beatie Edney --Heather MacLeod

Running time: 111 minutes


Plot:

Connor Macleod was born in 14th century Scotland. After surviving an attack in battle that should have killed him, he is ostracized from his hometown. He meets Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. Sanchez teaches Connor that he's an immortal, just like Sanchez, and that they can only be killed by having their heads chopped off. Sanchez also teaches Connor how to fight with a sword, the weapon of the immortals. Eventually, when all but two immortals kill each other, there will be a stand off, and the winner will truly live forever.



Review:

Highlander has to have one of the greatest basic plot ideas even created:

  • Immortals walk the Earth and they can only be killed by another immortal
  • They fight with swords, chopping each other's heads off, gaining each other's powers when they do so.
  • In the end, there can only be one.

There aren't too many sci-fi/fantasy worlds that are as cool as that there. And they didn't just pick any weapon, they choose swords. There is no cooler weapon on Earth. This idea would fail if they choose guns. This idea would fail if they choose nun-chucks. But they choose swords, the sexiest, most stylish weapon in the world.

Now, I wouldn't say Christopher Lambert can't act, but...Oh no wait. That's exactly what I'd say. Christopher Lambert can't act. And strangely enough, it doesn't detract from the movie in the least. Lambert has the acting skills of Jean-Claude Van Damme, combined with the English speaking skills of an early-Schwarzenegger. He actually worked for a dialogue coach for a long time, so rather than a distinguishable accent, he's got a muddled together European-ish thing going for him. Not to mention the fact that he had just learned English in the first place. But it works!

Sean Connery plays a Spanish immort...wait a minute...Spanish? Or wait, is he Egyptian? Well, anyway, Connery plays Connor's immortal mentor, Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez who teaches Connor how to fight. Sean Connery improves the movie drastically, simply because: he's in it.

Roxanne Hart is the love story, which itself is nothing special, but nevertheless is a prerequisite element for a sci-fi/fantasy movie. Sheila Gish plays an Alfred (Batman's servant) type character to Connor, as his secretary. He saved her life in the war, when she was just a child, and she's been with him (unromantically) ever since. I found this minor subplotsurprisingly uncorny. And the villain of the movie is played by Clancy Brown, whom I truly hated. I guess he did well.

There are very few things to find wrong with Highlander. Most of the time, it's a solid movie. The flashbacks aren't tasteless, the one-liners are usually funny, and the sword fights are well done. My biggest problem with the movie was there was a huge chunk of the storyline that was skipped over, obviously for time constraints. I'm referring of course to the sword fights between the immortals to the death. We only saw a few, the best of which began the movie. We can guess that Connor did most of his fighting (off camera), or that most of the immortals killed each other (off camera), or that the Kurgan killed them all (off camera), but it still would have been nice to see a few more of those damned cool sword fights. I know for a fact that at least one of them was cut.

The other, perhaps unfair complaint deals with Highlander's one huge special effects scene, which was the climax of the movie. It suffers from a disease many sci-fi/fantasy films that were made before 1995 suffer from: poor special effects. Special effects that weren't based on computers had done impressive things long before 1986, but computers are a different story. Even today computerized special effects are in the process of improving.

One of the best things about Highlander would have to be the soundtrack, which was by Queen. Everybody loves Queen. The movie was stuffed with Queen songs. Everybody wins. And to boot, one of them has lyrics that could actually be related to the movie! Who would've thought?


*For good reason too, lagrange informs me, as the band actually wrote Who wants to live forever? after viewing a rough cut of the film.



There should only be one

Highlander was originally written as one movie. They had to, it would be way too risky to do anything else. They made it into one movie, and didn't think about a sequel or a TV show. Highlander both opened and closed its own storyline. In the end, there was only one. That was the problem; it left no room for a decent prequel or sequel. But movie execs love to make sequels out of sleeper hits, and they decided to go along with it anyway, and made a TV show and what are considered some of the worst films ever. Both the movies and the TV show desecrate what was a wonderful fantasy world, adding idiotic (aliens?) things to the storyline, most of which contradicted something else. And in the end, nothing makes sense. So what should you, the faultless movie-watcher do? Don't see the sequels. Pretend like they don't exist.

One of the screenwriters for Highlander visited my film class and talked about the film, one day. He talked about how Gregory Widen had the idea of "An immortal guy who wandered the Earth with a big sword" and how they turned it into something decent. He also expressed the same remorse for Highlander; if the Highlander idea was given to a bunch of experienced sci-fi screenwriters today, who knows what they could do with it? Alas, the franchise is far beyond remedy. Which is really too bad.

But in the end, Highlander is still a very good movie, one of the best in its genre.

But, oh, how great Highlander could have been, if they would have realized what they had in their hands.

High"land*er (?), n.

An inhabitant of highlands, especially of the Highlands of Scotland.

 

© Webster 1913.

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