Highlander: The Franchise That Wouldn’t Die (aka: Brad’s Decent Into Madness by Watching The Notoriously Bad Highlander Sequels)
When it comes to movie franchises; automatically visions of Indiana Jones, Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Batman comes to mind. One that probably doesn’t, is the Highlander franchise. It had the makings of an awesome film franchise: Immortal swordsmen engage in mortal combat until only one remains….and the only way to kill them is by beheading!!! Totally sounds badass right? I don’t know about you, but watching a series of movies about bloodthirsty swordsmen sounds awesome! Sadly, the Highlander franchise represents all the things that can go wrong in launching a film franchise. It had a strong start, but churned out a franchise that not only gave us very muddy, confusing and horrible sequels and spin-offs, but like the immortals peppered throughout, it’s a franchise that simply won’t die. I took advantage of the movies being available on Netflix and wrote an in-depth essay on the franchise! If you haven’t been introduced to this world, my advice is this: Watch and love the first movie, become a fan, but for the love of God, DO NOT watch the sequels. Without further adieu: here’s my movie-by-movie analysis of Highlander…
The Movie That Started It All: Highlander
Even though the original poster to the left didn’t really sell the movie as being awesome…trust me: It is! Starting out, this movie kicks off with a narration by Sean Connery and pumps some music by Queen as we see a wrestling match at Madison Square Garden (I’m guessing this is when wrestling was taken seriously). Anyway, a man sits among the crowd and then between the body slams we see flashbacks of that same man in 1536 Scotland. This is our introduction to Connor MacLeod, the immortal swordsman who will be front and center for what might be one of the coolest movies sword fighting movies ever. Within minutes, we see him sword fighting a guy in the parking garage, which ends when he beheads his assailant…OK so it’s kinda on the cheesy side, but it’s that awesome cheesiness that made movies like Robocop so enjoyable. So after this awesome intro, we get to know who Connor MacLeod is and we go back to 1536 Scotland. The MacLeod clan is in the middle of a battle when Conner is fatally wounded by The Kurgan; who’s a badass warrior, and of course we know he’s the biggest B.A.M.F. roaming the Scottish highlands, because he has a firkin skull as a battle helmet!
Anyway, the problem with Connor MacLeod’s fatal wound is that it’s not so fatal to him and he’s exiled from his clan, who feel that he’s in league with Satan for being near death one moment and walking along having drinks the next moment.
Soon, he meets the Obi-Wan of the film in the form of Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, played by the always delightful Sean Connery. I’d like to point out that Connery is Scottish, while Christopher Lambert is French (and apparently couldn’t speak English when they signed him to the movie!). So the French guy is Scottish and the Scottish guy is a Spaniard, which we find out is an Immortal (henceforth called a Highlander from here on out) and he’s really from Ancient Egypt!!!! We get our Yoda/Luke or Rocky/Mickey training scene after Conner learns of his immortality. We learn the Rules of “The Game”
1.Never fight on Holy Ground
2. Once a battle has begun, another Immortal may not interfere, (so no tag-teams)
3. IN THE END THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE!!!!! (very important; very badass)
Soon, the Kurgan comes to Casa De MacLeod to cause a little trouble in the neighborhood, the problem is that Conner is out hunting; leaving his wife and Ramirez behind, but the Kurgan decides he’s contempt with fighting Ramirez and eventually destroys Connor’s home and takes off Ramirez’s head….he also rapes Connor’s wife, which years later he’ll profess this detail in a church!!!
Some other crap happens like MacLeod realizing how much immortality sucks when he sees his wife grow older and inevitably dying, he also gets into a drunken duel in Colonial America, fights in World War II, but the important thing is in modern day the Kurgan kills all the other Highlanders but MacLeod and it comes down to the final showdown.
Obviously Conner wins The Prize, which turns out to be mortality and he also can have kids if he wishes and turns out he also has Telepathy. Conner decides to use it for the benefit of mankind. So it was an awesome movie, it had a good ending with MacLeod being the final Highlander, evil was defeated and everyone is happy. No need for a sequel right? Oh….