It’s time to find out if the 30th Anniversary Edition version is any better than the previous Blu-ray release, here’s my Highlander Blu-ray review.
I’ve seen Highlander countless times I consider it a classic. So when it first came out on Blu-ray I was overjoyed, however that emotion was short lived. As soon as I put the Blu-ray disc in I was left completely dumbfounded as how anyone could have released it in that state.
To be honest the DVD version is far better at least it had even and consistent picture quality. When will companies realise we buy the Blu-ray versions of older classics for improved and restored sound and picture quality? Most of us will already own the film on DVD or even VHS (remember those!) and spend yet more money to have the best possible version of our favourite films.
The great news is someone thought it was the perfect time (30th Anniversary) to re-mastered and release it again on Blu-ray. Have they finally given us the version we deserve and demand? Lets find out…
- Highlander Blu-ray Review (1986) 30th Anniversary Edition
- Running Time: 116 Mins
- UK Rating 15
- Discs: 1
- Released By Studiocanal
Christopher Lambert plays Connor MacLeod an immortal part of the Clan MacLeod. He lives in the Highlands of Scotland in the 16th century and is unaware of his special gift or curse until he is struck down in battle and apparently dies only to come back to life.
However instead of welcoming his miraculous recovery he is banished from his village for witchcraft. He is not alone as he and wife Heather setup home together in the remote Highlands.
Enter Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Sean Connery) who comes to mentor Connor and informs him that he is immortal but can be killed if his head is severed. He therefore must prepare for the “The Quickening”, essentially the prize for the last standing immortal.
There can be only one!
Back in 1985 that time is drawing ever closer as the remaining immortals come together for “The Gathering”
The film was written by Gregory Widen.
Style / Direction
The first time watching Highlander it can feel a little confusing, or that’s how I remember it all those years ago. The reason for that is the film constantly moves between different time periods in order to tell the story.
That said I love the way it does this as it means director Russell Mulcahy can chop and change the tempo of the film to great effect. It’s also a great looking film with the highlands of Scotland set against the more edgy New York. In fact I don’t think it would work anywhere near as well if done in chronological order. The cinematography is handled by Gerry Fisher.
The only bad thing I have to say about Highlander is you can still see the wires for the harness that Christopher Lambert wears during one of the scenes. It’s not like it ruins an otherwise superb film but must be annoying to the special effects people who probably said, you will never see the wires!
Music / Audio Effects
Where to start? The soundtrack by Queen is simply amazing and plays a major part in making Highlander such a great film. Whether it’s Princes of the Universe, A Kind of Magic, One Year of Love or the perfect Who Wants To Live Forever it really does set the tone and emotion of the film.
Quite simply it’s awesome!
Let’s not forget composer Michael Kamen who helps blend it all together. It all fits perfectly with plenty of swords clashing audio effects to boot.
Acting / Characters
Brilliant casting with Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod who eyes really do convey a lonely and tortured soul whilst at the same time leaving you in no doubt he is tough and determined immortal. He really does feel the like the only person who can play this role. In essence this is a story of a man who is cursed by immortality and the sadness that brings him. He witnesses the loss of everyone he ever cared about and therefore decides not to put himself through it ever again. In doing so he becomes a deeply sad and lonely immortal, who would want to live forever?
Supported by the outstanding Sean Connery as Ramírez he only did seven days filming but leaves a lasting impression with a great performance that certainly elevates the film to another level.
Now to the films bad guy or villain The Kurgan played by Clancy Brown. Wow he is totally off the wall and doesn’t care about standing out in a crowded New York even if he has just chopped some guy’s head off. Clancy Brown nails this character to perfection! He is completely mad after years of killing and is a guy you really don’t want to mess with.
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away” he remarks as he leaves church, a truly great performance. This was apparently Clancy’s own line and is delivered so well that it’s now one of the films many quoted lines.
The Love Interest
Elsewhere there are decent performances from Connor’s two love interests Brenda Wyatt, a forensic pathologist played by Roxanne Hart in the 1985 period. Then there is Heather, Connor’s wife in 16th century Scotland played by Beatie Edney. Both add a kind of balance to the films plentiful sword action. (No innuendo intended)
The key performers are Lambert, Connery and Clancy in many ways but Roxanne Hart and Beatie Edney characters bring the sense of love and loss which is at the heart of the story of Highlander.
Conclusion – Highlander Film Review
It’s always been one of my favourite films and remains so, with top acting, music and action. I strongly recommend anyone who has somehow missed it over the years giving a look.
Highlander Blu-ray Review – The 30th Anniversary Edition
Let’s be clear this is a review of the new 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. My advice is this; DO NOT buy any other version, as the first release on Blu-ray is absolutely terrible. That version has not been restored only sharpened giving an uneven viewing experience.
The 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray, that’s thankfully a completely different story. This one has been re-mastered and looks fantastic, it clean, sharp and the colours are vibrant and unlike the first release the film noise has been removed or reduced. All this adds up to an outstanding picture which is how it should have been released on Blu-ray the first time around.
So be warned don’t pick up the original Blu-ray even if it looks like a bargain.
- Interview with director Russell Mulcahy
- New Interview with Christopher Lambert
- Making of Documentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentary with Russell Mulcahy
Pretty much everything you could ask for, a great set of extras with some interesting revelations into the making of Highlander.
Christopher Lambert spent around five weeks after filming was complete in a studio re-recording his dialogue for the American part of the film. This was due to the fact that Highlander was only his second English speaking role and he needed time with a voice coach to perfect the accent. Although Lambert was born in New York, Christophe Guy Denis Lambert, he grew up in Geneva, Switzerland before moving to Paris in his teens.
Apparently he had already got the Scottish accent pretty much sorted. Although he had the odd piece of advice coming from a certain Scotsman, Sean Connery.
On to my movie rating for Highlander (1986)
- Movie Rating: RECOMMENDED / MUST SEE
- Blu-ray: EXCELLENT
- Extras: EXCELLENT
Highlander (1986) is available now on Blu-ray priced £10 (UK) or $11.26 (US) (as of date of review) links in the review summary below.
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So that’s my Highlander Blu-ray Review, I’ll leave you with the restored trailer…
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Highlander Blu-ray Review (1986)
Director(s): Russell Mulcahy
Actor(s): Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, Roxanne Hart, Beatie Edney
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Rating
Finally the 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is the restoration this outstanding magical action, adventure & fantasy film deserves.