One of the movies we unfortunately never got to talk about on the good old KICK ASS Movie Podcast was the 80’s classic Highlander. Starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery it told the story of Connor Macleod. The movies starts with a fantastically drunken intro by Sean Connery explaining who Immortals are and other gibberish and then we get the first of many awesome Queen songs, who did the entire soundtrack, “Princes of the Universe”.
Connor Macleod was born in 1518 in Scotland and as the movie starts he’s eager to fight in his first battle. Unfortunately for him the rival clan has hired one of the most bad ass villains ever to fight with them, The Kurgan (played by Clancy Brown). Unbeknowst to Connor he is an Immortal, one of many who will never age and never be killed unless they are beheaded. Connor is unaware of his abillites but The Kurgan senses them and attempts to kill Connor before his powers are fully developed. Connor takes a sword right in the old bread basket following an unexplainable pain but his clan members force the rival clan to retreat before The Kurgan can liberate his head from his body.
Connor is brought back to the village and seemingly dies, which is understandable since this is the times when a scratch would probably mean you would have to amputate an arm. However, he awakens and feels better than ever, causing quite a bit a concern in his villlage. They accuse him of being a witch and drive him out of the village. Many years later he has built a pretty nice little castle and has a wife named Heather. Everything is going great as they make horseshoes and shear sheep and whatever else people do in 16th century Scotland. The simple life is interrupted one day by Spanish/Chinese/Egyptian/Scottish/Pirate Ramirez aka Sean Connery. He tells Connor (and us) all the basics about being an Immortal. The pain Connor felt in the presence of The Kurgan was “The Quickening”, kind of Immortal spider sense and also describes the surge of power an Immortal recieves after beheading another Immortal. All Immortals are participating in “The Game” to win “The Prize” and eventually the few who remain will end up at “The Gathering”. Is that enough quotes for you? So Ramirez and Connor engage in a Rocky IIIesque training montage as Connor learns how to swordfight, that he can breathe underwater and more.
Everything is going great until one night when Connor is out doing something (they never really say) and The Kurgan manages to find the castle and he and Ramirez have a crazy, lightning laced duel that destroys most of the castle and leads to Ramirez getting beheaded. The Kurgan absorbs Ramirez’s power through a Quickening. The Kurgan then kicks his evil up even higher and assaults Heather. Connor comes back and is understandably upset about what happened. He rebuilds and continues on as normal but Heather continues to grow older as he remains the same age. She eventually dies and Connor buries her and leaves his old broadsword, taking Ramirez’s katana with him as he journeys across the world. He becomes a noble in Boston and duels a guy drunk and also shows up in WWII Europe where he saves a girl named Rachel from Nazis.
While all the backstory is going on we also have what’s going on in 1985, and it flips back and forth for a while. Connor is going by the name Russell Nash and is doing typical 80’s things like going to a wrestling match at Madison Square Garden. I wonder if Macho Man was wrestling that night? Anyway, Connor runs into another Immortal in the parking garage and they proceed to duke it out because it’s The Gathering. Sprinklers get set off, lights get smashed and eventually Connor manages to get the upper hand. Oh man, I almost forgot to mention that it must be a rule of Immortals that you have to say “There Can Only be One!” before you behead someone. A quickening happens and car lights and horns go off and eventually windshields all around Connor smash. Unfortunately this draws the cops so Connor has to stash his sword on a light fixture and flee in his sweet car.
Among the cops investigating the murder are forensic investigator Brenda Wyatt, conviently she is also an expert on swords. She finds metal shards on a concrete column and also finds the katana. “Nash” is brought in for questioning and is kind of an ass, saying they don’t really have an evidence, etc. They let him go but Brenda is still interested in him, mainly because of the sword. I can’t remember now how Connor gets the sword back but he does.
Meanwhile, The Kurgan has also arrived in NYC and in sweet new biker threads. He gets into a fight with another Immortal in an alley and kills him, earning a Quickening. The Quickening is witnessed by a military nutjob/taxi driver who tries to kill The Kurgan with a Mac-10 but gets stabbed for his trouble. He survives and later identifies the Kurgan to police. The Kurgan shaves his head to avoid detection and leaves the weirdest patches of hair ever.
Meanwhile Brenda has been investigating Connor and finds out he’s had many identities over the years due to some fancy computer signature matching. She confronts him and he tells her about being an Immortal and the like. I guess it kind of turns her on because a gratitous sex scene follows. I’m not sure if it’s before or after this but The Kurgan and Connor have a brief duel in a construction yard which ends with The Kurgan running off. Connor tracks The Kurgan to a church, which is holy ground and it’s forbidden for immortals to fight on, they have a pleasant conversation where each says they’re going to kill the other, yadda yadda yadda, and then The Kurgan starts harassing the priests and yells things like “It’s better to burn out than to fade away!” after Connor leaves.
To force a final showdown (since The Gathering is down to the two of them), The Kurgan manages to kidnap Brenda and challenge Connor on rooftop with a huge neon sign and watertower. The final sword fight begins, leading to the roof getting pretty much destroyed as the water tower and sign are both wrecked. A dangerous situation presents itself as the water meets the wires of the sign but the battle eventually leads into the building (when the roof collapses) and into a room of nothing but a wall of windows. The two battle until Connor inevitably wins and beheads The Kurgan. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE! This Quicking is so awesome it’s hard to describe but that’s the magic of youtube:
So, Connor wins “The Prize” which is mortality and the ability to read everyone’s thoughts and he and Brenda head off on a new life. At least until the terrible sequels arrive. So that’s pretty much Highlander. Let us know what you think in comments and if you have movie you’d like to see Total Recall’d let us know or write your own.
Bonus Video: “Princes of the Universe” Music Video where Freddy Mercury actually crosses swords with Connor MacLeod.