Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Highlander

Here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch one of the many movies in my DVD library, and I just rant about them.  We`re into a spate of movies I got for Christmas back in 2010 from a friend of mine, hence the occasional reference I make to Christmas.  Today, we get to the cult classic Highlander.  This entry is originally dated January 8, 2011.

As promised, I'm working my way through all my Christmas Blu-Rays, and next on the list is the cult classic 1986 action/fantasy, Highlander

Highlander is a franchise I was never really into.  Back in my halcyon days in college in the late 1990s, I had lots of friends who were into it, though.  In those days, I got rather big on renting every movie in a franchise and watching it on Saturday nights, and on one of those nights, my friends talked me into renting the entire Highlander trilogy.  (There were only 3 films at that time.)  And in that one night, I was introduced to the confusion that Highlander fans feel on a daily basis.  I tell ya, that Highlander continuity is one that is so full of re-writes and retcons and the like that I'm really not surprised that most Highlander fans are crazy.  I see that Highlander is one of the many films with a remake currently in development, and I'm for it.  If there's one franchise that's in dire need of a reboot, it's Highlander.

So the film opens at a wrestling match.  But one man in the stands can't focus on the game.  It is our hero, Conner MacLeod.  Conner heads out into the parking garage where he has a massive swordfight with a guy and ends by decapitating him.  And the audience is immediately going, "Wha?"  You've got to admit, it's quite the opening.

We then flashback to medieval Scotland, where we see Conner is fighting with the clan MacLeod.  Wha?

Back in the present day, the police are investigating the scene of the swordfight and the decapitation.  Our love interest, Brenda, is a forensic scientist on the scene, and manages to find steel from a sword dating to 600BC.  Wha?

Back in medieval Scotland, Conner is on the battlefield, and one large, viscous mercenary known as the Kurgan saves the honor of killing Conner for himself.  But, before the Kurgan can decapitate Conner, Conner's allies run to his aid.  Conner is presumed dead, but his entire village freaks out when he rises from the grave.  He's treated as an outcast, and eventually banished.  He eventually finds love with a Scottish lass named Heather.  But, as he's about to live happily ever after, that's when Sean Connery as Ramirez shows up to provide some exposition, and explain to Conner -- and us in the audience -- what the hell is going on.

(Here's where I love Hollywood.  Sean Connery is a Scotsman playing a Spaniard.  Christopher Lambert [Conner] is a Frenchman playing a Scotsman.) 

Ramirez begins training Conner how to fight and defend himself as he explains.  Immortals walk the Earth, and Ramirez and Conner are but two of them.  The only way an immortal can be killed is by decapitation.  They are destined to fight each other until the time of "the Gathering," when the very few that remain will be drawn to a faraway land.  In the end, there can be only one.  And that one will receive "The Prize," which, from what we gather, is near omnipotence.  Ramirez cautions that not all immortals are good.  The Kurgan is an evil one, and if one such as the Kurgan were to receive the prize, it would be the end times. 

The the Kurgan shows up, kills Ramirez, Heather grows old and dies, and Conner walks the Earth alone.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

So now we've figured out that the Gathering is taking place in New York City.  Brenda starts figuring out what's going on and confronts Conner.  Conner says that he cannot love Brenda because it's too dangerous.  But, before you know it, the Kurgan and Conner are the only ones left, and the Kurgan kidnaps Brenda to force the final battle. 

Conner wins, gets the Prize, and lives happily ever after until the sequels come along to start mucking the whole thing up. 

Watching this film again after so many years, I was instantly taken with how it is that "low budget, gritty 1980s look."  Go to my other blog and read my thoughts on The Terminator and the first live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for other examples.  And there's lots of crazy stuff going on with the cameras, too.  Reading up on the production of the film, I see that director Russel Mulcahy was one of the first film directors who came from the world of directing music videos.  And while the rapid cuts and fast-paced editing style that most music-video-turned-film-directors display has now become commonplace (see all of Michael Bay's films for examples), back in 1986, Mulcahy was criticized for it and critics complained it was too distracting.

And of course I have to mention Clancy Brown as the Kurgan.  With that deep baritone of his, Brown is now a legendary voice actor, with one of his best-known roles being Lex Luthor on Superman: The Animated Series.  Hearing the deep, raspy voice he adopted for the Kurgan, I couldn't help but think, "If the Kurgan spoke with a Scottish accent, you've have Mr. Krab from SpongeBob."

But there it is.  Highlander.  A fun film deserving of its cult status.

No comments: