|Riffers||Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett|
|Date Released||March 15, 2011|
Highlander is a 1986 British-American action fantasy flim directed by Russell Mulcahy and based on a story by Gregory Widen. It stars Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, and Roxanne Hart. The film depicts the climax of an ages-old battle between immortal warriors, depicted through interwoven past and present day storylines. RiffTrax released their riff in March 2011.
Synopsis and PreviewEdit[Spoilers Begin]
In 1985, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), who is going by the name Russell Nash, is attending a professional wrestling match at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Overcome by a strange sensation, MacLeod exits to the stadium parking lot, where he is confronted by a man called Iman Fasil. Despite MacLeod's reluctance, the two engage in a sword-fight which concludes with MacLeod beheading Fasil, at which point a powerful burst of electrical energy destroys the parking lot and surges into him. Hiding his katana, MacLeod attempts to escape but is surrounded by the New York City Police Department and taken into custody.
In 1536, MacLeod—appearing to be the same age as he is in 1985—rides with his fellow clan members into battle against their rivals, the Clan Fraser, in Scotland. The Frasers have hired the services of the Kurgan (Clancy Brown), a sinister mercenary, to defeat their rivals, with the Kurgan's only demand being that MacLeod is to be left to him. MacLeod senses the Kurgan's presence before he is attacked, but he is no match for the Kurgan and is mortally wounded before his fellow clansmen can rescue him. MacLeod receives the last rites and appears to die of his injuries away from the battle field, but when he miraculously returns to life shortly after dying he is accused of witchcraft. Although his fellow clan members demand his execution, his cousin Angus takes pity on him and instead exiles MacLeod from the clan.
Back in 1985, MacLeod is questioned over the murder of Fasil and several other similar murders. It becomes clear that New York has seen an increase in violent beheadings, and although MacLeod is a chief suspect, the police lack the evidence to hold him. Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart), a police technician, is fascinated by the case, particularly when forensic dating on fragments of MacLeod's katana found at the scene date it as being over 2000 years old, far older than other katanas. Intrigued, she begins to follow and investigate “Nash”, but is rejected by him when she approaches him in a bar. At the same time the Kurgan, who has also not aged since his confrontation with MacLeod, arrives in New York under the alias Victor Kruger.
In 1541, MacLeod is married to Heather (Beatie Edney) and has settled in Glencoe, working as a blacksmith. Their peaceful lives are interrupted when MacLeod is approached by Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Sean Connery), who claims to be the Chief Metallurgist for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. He identifies himself and MacLeod as “Immortals”, a race of near-invulnerable and long-lived beings who wander the Earth concealing themselves from mortal humans; Ramírez himself was born in Ancient Egypt and has lived in Japan in 593 BC, where he acquired his katana. Ramírez explains to MacLeod that Immortals can sense each other through a form of extrasensory perception called “The Quickening” and can only permanently die if they are beheaded. As such, they participate in what they call “The Game”, an eternal contest between Immortals that will only end at the time of “The Gathering”, when the final Immortals are drawn together to battle each other until only one is left standing. The final Immortal, in turn, will receive what is only known as the Prize, the combined power of the Quickenings taken from each Immortal as they are killed. The prophecy about the Prize is worded in such a way that makes it clear that the Gathering is taking place in 1985 New York City.
Ramírez begins to tutor MacLeod in the ways of the Immortals in order to prepare him for the Game, and the two become friends. Ramírez advises that MacLeod abandon Heather, informing MacLeod that Immortals are sterile. Drawing upon his own tale of lost love with a Japanese princess, Ramírez also reminds MacLeod that Heather will eventually grow old and die, leaving him alone. MacLeod refuses to leave his wife, but one night while he is away the Kurgan returns, attacking Ramírez and Heather, as well as destroying much of the castle keep. Ramírez battles the Kurgan, but is decapitated, and when MacLeod returns he finds Heather suffering mental trauma from the experience. They remain happily married, but Heather eventually dies of old age. Devastated, MacLeod buries his wife and burns down their home, abandoning his old life and wandering the world throughout the centuries that follow. He takes Ramírez's katana as his own. MacLeod progresses throughout the centuries, with one point in the Second World War saving a Dutch girl from being murdered by an SS soldier, who is aghast to see an unscathed MacLeod despite being shot in the heart. MacLeod kills the SS and becomes caretaker to the girl, Rachel Ellenstein, who grows up to become his secretary.
Back in 1985, Brenda witnesses a confrontation between MacLeod and the Kurgan that is in turn interrupted by the police. Intrigued, she attempts to get closer to MacLeod, but MacLeod turns her down, thinking that she is trying to set him up for the police. Despite the fact that he is gradually falling in love with Brenda, MacLeod is also still devastated over the death of Heather and refuses to let any mortal woman get close to him, certain in the knowledge that they will grow old and die while he will not.
The Kurgan battles and defeats Sunda Kastigar (Hugh Quarshie), a fellow Immortal and old friend of MacLeod’s, taking his Quickening and making himself and MacLeod the last remaining Immortals. The Kurgan becomes unstable with the power he has acquired over the centuries, believing that winning the Prize will make him all-powerful and capable of ruling the world. The Kurgan confronts MacLeod in a church as MacLeod is engaging in his annual remembrance of Heather. As Immortals cannot fight on holy ground, the Kurgan taunts MacLeod with the knowledge that he killed Ramírez and raped Heather, and MacLeod vows revenge.
Having learned that the real "Russell Nash" died in infancy, Brenda confronts MacLeod; MacLeod reveals the truth. He proves his statement of immortality by having Brenda stab him only for him to return to life moments later. The two make love. As Brenda returns home afterwards, however, she is kidnapped by the Kurgan. Using Brenda as bait, the Kurgan draws MacLeod to an abandoned film studio, where he and the Kurgan confront each other. Although the Kurgan is powerful, MacLeod is able to decapitate him, winning the Game and claiming the Prize—a complete psychic connection to everyone and everything in the world.
As the Kurgan was earlier witnessed battling Kastigar, the police assume that he is the murderer and that “Russell Nash” is the final victim, allowing MacLeod to change his identity once again. MacLeod—now mortal, and capable of having a family—returns to the Scottish Highlands with Brenda, where he explains that he is one with all living things, and that his new powers enable him to understand everyone’s thoughts and help bring them together. The two engage in a loving embrace, and the film ends. [Spoilers End]
Cast and CrewEdit
- Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod / Russell Nash
- Sean Connery as Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez
- Clancy Brown as The Kurgan / Victor Kruger
- Roxanne Hart as Brenda Wyatt
- Beatie Edney as Heather MacLeod
- Alan North as Lieutenant Frank Moran
- Jon Polito as Detective Walter Bedsoe
- Sheila Gish as Rachel Ellenstein
- Hugh Quarshie as Sunda Kastagir
- Christopher Malcolm as Kirk Matunas
- Peter Diamond as Iman Fasil
- Billy Hartman as Dugal MacLeod
- James Cosmo as Angus MacLeod
- Corinne Russell as Candy
- Celia Imrie as Kate MacLeod
- In 2014, James Cruise of Ronin Fox Trax named this riff as one of his "picks" in his interview with RiffWiki Interviews.