The Highlander franchise remains one of the more bizarre film phenomena, with numerous sequels and spin-offs lending it an appropriate level of near-immortality. This, the highly entertaining original features squinty-eyed Chistopher Lambert as one of a dwindling number of immortals, being hunted down by a barbarous scenery-chewer named Kurgan (Clancy Brown) – unless Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery on enjoyably goofy form) can help it. An instant cult favourite, mostly among the kind of people who read books with maps in the front and dragons in the title, it gave way to a sequel – from the same director, Russell Mulcahy – so calamitously hamfisted it almost killed the franchise with a single blow. Like the immortals themselves, however, the series survived, spawning three further sequels and/or prequels – in such eon-spanning narratives, it can be difficult to tell – two television spin-offs, an animated series, novels, comic books and more. So much for “there can be only one.” Despite this remarkable display of endurance, Highlander’s official merchandise – ceremonial swords, sold “for display purposes only” – continues to generate more revenue than all its screen incarnations put together.
Perhaps the scales will tip in the film franchise’s favour now that the original Highlander has been reissued in a suitably Iron Age steel tin, with an immaculate transfer head and shoulders above earlier editions. Although Mulcahy’s visuals reveal his music video background, he never loses sight of the emotional content. Thus, Highlander’s mythic power endures: two decades on, it’s still a kind of magic.
EXTRAS: Not quite the prize it might have been, the special edition nonetheless provides a gathering of deleted scenes (in HD), retrospective interviews with Lambert (subtitled) and co-star Roxanne Hart, Mulcahy commentary, and mini-featurettes exploring the gestation of the script and the film’s production design.