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So I Finally Saw.. Highlander: The Director's Cut (1986)

Written by Zechs on Saturday, February 06 2010 and posted in Reviews
With THE PRIZE his, Zechs looks at an altered version of an 1980s film masterpiece, Highlander (1986)

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I'm a lover of movies; in fact, I love all kinds of movies. Amongst them all, action movies especially are my passion. However, I also do enjoy sci-fi, drama, comedy, and horror. As for romance? Eh, if the babe is hot it might be deemed possibly watchable for me. Though even then, that so did not help me when I watched The English Patient (1996). Otherwise, I rather watch Batman & Robin (1997) for 24 hours straight than see a cheesy romance flick. Still, I cannot see every movie known to man when they come out, or only hear good stuff about them. Therefore, I'll put my behind down and review the flick. Enter this column, where I finally state was the movie truly worth the price of viewing or not.


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This one comes at a bit of surprise to me, because I never knew this even existed on DVD until I bought it for clearance at a Movie Rental place that was shutting its doors down. Even then I thought I was buying the original Highlander (1986), and I didn’t even realize until the first few minutes of viewing this was a far different beast. Still, I couldn’t return it so I relaxed and watched the entire flick. 

Much like other Director’s Cut from the Highlander franchise; they usually enhance the movie (though I doubt that or anything can save the last movie Highlander: The Source). Sometimes it can make for a WAY better movie aka Highlander 2 (1991) and Highlander: Endgame (2000) come to mind when I write this (but then again it isn’t hard since the former was utter crap in its regular form while the later was just alright). Then me finding out that the movie I’ve watched a ton of times was the actual director’s cut aka Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994) (little note here: heck I didn’t even know this thing was PG-13 rated until read up on it on Wiki. I could swear when this movie when it was out was R-rated. This was reinforced even more after numerous times it’s been on Encore, HBO, or Showtime). So in this version, there’s eight more minutes more with some additional scenes and tweaks.    

Regardless, the story remains the same (unlike Highlander 2’s version). It’s still a race of Immortals (who can only truly die via decapitation) battling for a prize that they can only claim when only one of them remains. Well, this movie follows two Immortals (played by Christopher Lambert as Connor MacCloud and Clancy Brown as the Kurgan) and the numerous times in the past they’ve crossed until they’re the only ones left and its battle time.

So what’s added? Well, the opening fight with Connor vs. Fasil is WAY longer now with the later dude doing back flips all over the place. The other two big scenes would again involve Connor. The first is a flashback during World War II where he first meets Rachel and the other is Connor talking to his latest female conquest with Kurgan lurking in the background.  The rest is some additional dialogue here and there plus the final fight looks a little bit expanded as well. I can see why they were cut as they didn’t really adhere to the main plot and it had a plot hole or two.

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Still, this movie is Highlander. There’s a reason why this movie spawned a franchise. Even if some of the effects are dated, the performances, story, fighting, and direction still hold up today. Then there’s the main draw to this movie: the music by QUEEN. You get a ton of original songs by them and they’re all awesome (my personal favorite being “Gimme the Prize”).

Though I’ll make a u-turn back onto talking about the performances, I have to say about Clancy Brown as the Kurgan. When I first saw this movie he really didn’t make much an impact on me. Not even after a few more viewings. It was always Sean Connery as Ramirez.  Now I’m of the opposite thought: all hail the Kurgan. I just don’t know what to say other than I love Brown’s iconic performance than Connery just phoning it in (though even phoning it he’s still awesome in the role). Every scene Brown’s in he just chews the scenery and upstages everyone he’s with. I can see why every other Highlander movie, save for fourth film tries copying the Kurgan either in character (villain in The Final Dimension) or actor (Michael Ironside in the first sequel). 

Though through it all, Clancy Brown as the Kurgan still stands tall over them and a ton more of the awesome movie villains seen in the 80s. I really think if I ever do a top fifteen list again it’ll be that. I so do love the bad guys as I do Kaiju films.  Maybe during March I’ll do just that.

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Well back onto the topic at hand. Lambert as Connor is alright, but a Scot this man isn’t. Still a film like Highlander much like any 80s action movie: the viewer’s mind should be turned off anyway so they can enjoy the ride. Mine was, thus I could enjoy the performance and the nice one liners Lambert delivers nicely and those “I’ll kill you very badly” stare he’s got down oh so well.

I have to admit at first the film shocked me (I thought the whole back-flipping was a stupid but amusingly fun addition to a bland opening fight), but as it went on the new scenes didn’t bother me and the movie just flew by. I will say it does make enhance Connor’s character a bit more (honestly I loved his bit against the Nazi officer). So in its little ways it does improve upon some of the characters and the universe it plays within. Still, the movie’s freaking Highlander how can one not enjoy this film? You have a very iconic villain, great lines, some damn fine sword fighting, Sean Connery, and Queen doing the soundtrack. I cannot think of a way one can hate this film unless you leave your mind on while watching this film. Though if you do that you seriously have some serious issues watching a 80s action movie.

 

5 out of 5


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About the Author - Zechs


Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.

 


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