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Russell Mulcahy
Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown
Peter Bellwood, Larry Ferguson

An immortal Scottish swordsman must confront the last of his immortal opponent, a murderously brutal barbarian who lusts for the fabled "Prize".

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 117 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 11/2/2010

• Audio Commentary with Director Russell Mulcahy
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Highlander [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 5, 2023)

Sometimes the associations we attach to movies make it more difficult for us to objectively judge those works. For example, I maintained a negative impression of Highlander for years because I knew a weird guy who thought it was this amazing movie.

I connected the film with this person, so I got it stuck in my head that Highlander was not a good film. As it turns out, I was wrong.

As I watched Highlander on Blu-ray, I started to remember that I'd actually liked the film when I saw it during its theatrical run. So cruelly had my association with my oddball friend tainted the movie that these negative connotations were all I remembered. (To be frank, I also think some of my dislike of Highlander 2 - which even my chum hated - may have affected my memories of the original as well.)

In Scotland circa the 16th century, the MacLeod clan battles the Fraser family. The Frasers hire a mercenary warrior known as “The Kurgan” (Clancy Brown) to aid their cause, and he kills Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert).

Or maybe not, as Connor soon learns that he possesses immortality. Because they fear witchcraft, the locals drive off Connor.

Connor finds love with Heather MacDonald (Beatie Edney) and gets a tutor via another immortal, Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez (Sean Connery). It also turns out that the Kurgan can’t die, so the two battle over the decades and confront each other again in 1985 New York City.

Despite the prejudices I mentioned, it turns out that Highlander actually provides an exciting and visceral film experience. Directed by music video veteran Russell Mulcahy - known mainly for his groundbreaking work with Duran Duran- it bears the marks of such an association. Highlander uses a style of quick cutting that was unusual for 1986. One of Mulcahy's first feature films, he displays a surprisingly self-assured hand in leading this potentially confusing story through to its conclusion.

That latter area really could kill Highlander, since the movie frequently hops from plot to plot and from time period to time period. It easily could lose the viewer amidst all of the gyrations.

Happily, that never occurs, and the movie seems surprisingly coherent and tight. I can't say that it never becomes muddled, but since few science fiction stories remain perfectly coherent from start to finish - especially when those tales involve multiple time periods - I won't criticize Highlander for similar flaws.

One area in which Highlander excels involves some of its performances. In their supporting roles, Connery and Brown seem terrific.

We see less of Connery than I'd like, but he adds a nice spark to the film and makes it much more satisfying. As MacLeod's nemesis, Brown stands out as a sadistic, demented and amoral villain.

He's tremendous fun to watch while the Kurgan became scarier and scarier as the film continues. Most movie baddies remain fairly tame, but Brown feels tremendously creepy in the part. He makes an underwritten role more compelling than it should be.

As for Lambert himself, he never became much of an actor, and nothing he does in Highlander alters my opinion of his skills. Still, he looks good in the part, and he acquits himself well enough. Another actor might make MacLeod more stimulating, but Lambert does nothing to embarrass himself or to hurt the film.

Mulcahy maintains a nicely kinetic visual style throughout Highlander. Many of its action scenes sizzle with excitement due to his perceptive eye.

Highlander isn't one of the best action films I've ever seen, but it's a very stimulating and enjoyable effort and one I shouldn't have neglected for so many years.

Note that this disc of Highlander includes the “Director’s Cut”. This adds about six minutes of footage not seen in the US. As far as I know, the theatrical version of Highlander has never been available on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K, so only this cut exists in those formats.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

Highlander appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an erratic presentation.

Which I expected to a certain degree, as Highlander always offered a challenging image. It never exactly dazzled, largely due to the source.

So as I went into this Blu-ray, I anticipated inconsistencies. However, too many of the drawbacks stemmed from the transfer and not the original photography.

In particular, it seemed evident the movie underwent a fair amount of noise reduction. While some scenes came with ample – and occasionally heavy – grain, too many felt too smooth and clean in that regard.

This left the image with an unnatural vibe. It too often didn’t really look like film, as it seemed overly processed.

In general, sharpness came across pretty well, though. While the various techniques impacted delineation at times, the movie generally showed reasonable to good definition.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws appeared absent.

Colors depended on location. The hues leaned toward blues and reds in “modern-day” New York but they felt gentler and more pastel in the Scotland flashbacks.

The tones varied in terms of quality. Sometimes they felt vivid but other scenes appeared blown-out and loose.

Blacks were fairly dense – if a little gray at times – and shadows demonstrated acceptable clarity, although the flick looked overly bright at times. This wasn’t a bad image but it seemed erratic.

Expect similar inconsistencies from the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The film boasted an active soundscape – probably too active, honestly, as the resultant soundfield came across as too “showy”.

This meant the various elements didn’t coalesce especially well. Music filled the speakers without great separation, and effects broadened to various channels with iffy localization.

This resulted in a mushy soundfield that distracted more than it enhanced the film. Music lacked balance, and effects cropped up in awkward ways that made this a flawed soundscape.

Audio quality felt dated as well. Speech remained understandable but the lines tended to seem thin and could lean edgy.

Music varied, mainly because the score fared better than the different rock songs. The latter sounded oddly flat and thin, but the score managed better range and impact.

Effects failed to deliver a lot of power either, and they showed more roughness than I’d expect. Though not a terrible soundtrack, this one didn’t work especially well.

In terms of extras, we find an audio commentary from director Russell Mulcahy. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing and different cuts of the film, effects, photography, stunts and action, and related domains.

Along with two producers, Mulcahy participated in a prior commentary that appeared on laserdisc and DVD. It worked better than this one.

Mulcahy offers a generally informative but unexceptional chat. While his discussion merits a listen, it can drag at times and feels mediocre.

Five Deleted Scenes span a total of six minutes, 14 seconds. As a title card at the start notes, these clips lack audio so the disc’s producers simply added music for their inclusion here.

That limits the usefulness of the scenes. The first simply displays more of the New York wrestling match, so it would feel superfluous anyway.

Two others offer more from the climactic battle. These fare better without audio but nonetheless don’t bring much to the table.

The two remaining scenes rely heavily on dialogue, so they become borderline useless here. Couldn’t the disc’s producers have added subtitles to transcribe the missing lines?

The disc opens with ads for Apocalypse Now, The Expendables and Kick-Ass. No trailer for Highlander appears here.

Highlander offers a fairly entertaining film. While not a classic, it certainly shows a lot of flair and creativity, and it works well as a whole. The Blu-ray brings mediocre picture and audio plus an audio commentary and a few deleted scenes. I like the movie but the Blu-ray doesn’t treat it especially well.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of HIGHLANDER

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