Sunday, March 23, 2008

Highlander (Director's Cut)

The Action Mutant…
wonders how many drunken frat parties have had someone shout the phrase “There can be only ONE!”


review by Joe Burrows

Here we are.
Born to be kings.Were the princes of the universe.
Here we belong. fighting to survive.
In a world with the darkest powers.
And here we are. were the princes of the universe.
Here we belong.fighting for survival.
Weve come to be the rulers of your world.
I am immortal.
I have inside me blood of kings.
I have no rival. no man can be my equal.
Take me to the future of your world.
Born to be kings. Princes of the universe.
Fighting and free. Got your world in my hand.
I’m here for your love and Ill make my stand.
We were born to be princes of the universe.
No man could understand. my power is in my own hand.
Ooh.ooh.ooh.ooh.people talk about you.People say you’ve had your day.
I’m a man that will go far.
Fly the moon and reach for the stars.
With my sword and head held high.
Got to pass the test first time - yeah.
I know that people talk about me I hear it every day.
But I can prove you wrong cos I’m right first time.
watch this man fly.Bring on the girls.
Here we are.
born to be kings. were the princes ofThe universe.
here we belong.
born to be kings.Princes of the universe.
fighting and free.Got the world in my hands’ here for your love.
And Ill make my stand.
We were born to be princes of the universe.

Hey, it’s better than anything I would have written. The moral is: Freddie Mercury fuckin’ rocks! (Note: This is a review of the 116 minute Director’s Cut, as opposed to the 110 minute original theatrical version.)

The Plot, as it was:
Christopher Lambert is Conor MacLeod, a 1500s Scottish warrior that is one of a few in the world that is a “Highlander”. The Highlanders are immortals that sacrifice normal life to get ready for the “Quickening”, which is basically a “last man standing” challenge. The only way an immortal can be done in is by decapitation and that means there’s plenty of swords a swingin’. A fellow Highlander (Sean Connery) has trained MacLeod to be “the one” but Conor has a nemesis in a nasty Russian soldier, known as Kurgan (Clancy Brown). The two meet in modern day New York City to fight to the finish…for THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE! (Predictable, right?)

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
This is one of those films that kicks as much ass now as it did the first time you saw it, no matter how dated it looks. Whether it’s the pulsing Queen score (which includes the intro theme above, “Who Wants to Live Forever” and even, “New York, New York”) or the interesting marriage of modern day urban thriller and heroic epic, Highlander is a fine popcorn movie. Sure, it’s not perfect by any means. The effects don’t hold up as well after 20 years and I had to turn the volume way up just to hear Christopher Lambert mumble some of his lines. And yet, Lambert makes that work for him, as he brings the vulnerability and melancholy to someone that is left to wander the earth for hundreds of years. The story is a fun one and has several memorable set pieces, which are directed with so much visual flair by (former music video) director Russell Mulcahy. Lambert is backed up by solid supporting work from Connery, despite the fact he’s a Spaniard speaking with a Scottish brogue (what else is new?). The real prize goes to Clancy Brown, who portrays the Kurgan as a remorseless bastard with no redeeming qualities at all. Many actors end up with that “one role they were born to play” and Brown relishes in making Kurgan as nasty as all hell (that scene in the church still gives me chills).

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- Being a pro wrestling geek and such, the memorable wrestling match sequence at the start features the legendary Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Jack Roberts) taking on Greg Gagne, Jim Brunzell and The Tonga Kid. All were working for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association, a Midwest pro wrestling league that (despite what the film presents) never hosted MSG.
- Corinne Russell, who plays the prostitute that Kurgan supposedly gets kinky with, was a former Benny Hill’s Angel. Just wanted to mention Benny Hill in a Highlander review.
- Frank Dux (the old man tossed out of the car by Kurgan) is the subject of the 1988 Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle Bloodsport.

Body Count/Violence: 15. It’s a film where immortals kill each other by decapitation so what did you expect? There is also some sword stabbing, gunshots and some vehicular mayhem.

Sexuality/Nudity: Lambert and Roxanne Hart have a sex scene where both of their behinds and her chest are shown. It’s all very brief and dark, though.

Language/Dialogue: Some mild to strong stuff, but not much really.

How bad was it?:
Sci-Fi critics love it, especially compared to the horrid sequels that would follow. Some mainstream critics were less kind, of course (why must Leonard Maltin always get under my crawl?)

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Thorn EMI produced Highlander with a $16 million budget but 20th Century Fox handled its American release. It bombed during its initial release, debuting 3/7/86 in 7th place and finishing 11th the following week. Interestingly, at a gross of $5.7 million, it is the least successful of the Highlander series in financial terms. It would go on to do a little better on video, however (that’s sarcasm).

Film: ***/*****
Entertainment value: ****/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

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