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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
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 117 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 9/27/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Russell Mulcahy
• Interview with Director Russell Mulcahy
• Interview with Actor Christopher Lambert
• “The Making of Highlander” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Archival Interview with Actor Christopher Lambert
• Trailer


-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: 30th Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 20, 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 B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

Highlander appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a showpiece, the image held up well.

Always a challenging film, Highlander suffered from a mix of issues that no transfer can ever overcome. Nonetheless, this 30th Anniversary version managed to do the best it could with the source.

Overall, sharpness seemed positive. Occasional soft spots materialized – usually due to effects or photographic choices – but the majority of the flick seemed fairly well-defined.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. Grain felt natural, so I suspected no overuse of noise reduction, and print flaws remained 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 largely came across with appealing reproduction.

Blacks were fairly dark and dense, while shadows offered pretty good clarity. Again, nothing will ever make Highlander look great, but this Blu-ray fared pretty nicely.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it came with its own ups and downs. However, the soundfield didn’t become one of these, as it broadened horizons pretty well.

Most of the soundscape emphasized the forward channels, where the mix offered fairly solid stereo spread for music. Effects also came across as generally well-localized and they blended in a decent manner.

Surround usage tended toward support, though the back speakers kicked into higher gear at times. This side of the mix managed to add some zing to the proceedings.

Highlander lost points due to the lackluster quality of the audio, and that started with reedy speech. While the lines always remained intelligible, they rarely came across as natural, and the track suffered from a lot of iffy looping.

Some of those factors impacted effects too, as those elements didn’t always seem especially organic. For instance, crowd scenes used murmuring that tended not to match the settings well.

Effects also came with some distortion. Still, these components didn’t fare poorly, and they came with reasonable low-end.

Music worked best, as the score and songs boasted largely positive range and warmth. The mix’s drawbacks made this a “B-“ track.

How did the 2016 “30th Anniversary” Blu-ray compare to the prior release from 2010? Though I expected identical soundtracks, the 2016 disc offered a much better-integrated soundfield and superior audio quality.

Visuals also demonstrated obvious improvements, as the 2010 disc came with too much noise reduction and felt mushier and less natural. Across the board, the 2016 Blu-ray became a clear step up in quality.

As we head to extras, we open with 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.

For more from the filmmaker, we get an Interview with Director Russell Mulcahy. It spans 23 minutes, two seconds.

Mulcahy discusses aspects of his career and parts of the Highlander production. Inevitable repetition from the commentary occurs but Mulcahy nonetheless adds new insights.

A circa 2016 Interview with Actor Christopher Lambert goes for 20 minutes, 35 seconds. He talks about what led him to the project and his experiences on the shoot in this reasonably informative reel.

The Making of Highlander lasts a whopping two hours, 37 seconds and provides info from story writer Gregory Widen, co-writer Peter Bellamy, director of photography Gerry Fisher, set decorator Allan Cameron, producer William N. Panzer, and actor Roxanne Hart

The documentary looks at influences and the movie’s roots/development, script, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, cast and performances, and overall production domains.

Designed as a handful of separate pieces, the documentary doesn’t flow in an A-to-Z manner. Nonetheless, we get a lot of good content across the chapters so this turns into an informative compilation.

We get an Archival Interview with Actor Christopher Lambert. It fills eight minutes, 54 seconds with his thoughts about his role and performance as well as other experiences during the shoot. Expect another moderately useful segment.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc finishes with five Deleted Scenes. These occupy a total of six minutes, 13 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?

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 generally good picture and audio along with a solid roster of bonus materials. The 30th anniversary Blu-ray tops the earlier version in all ways.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of HIGHLANDER

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