Highlander DVD

Even though I enjoyed the first film on its own merits, I have never been a big fan of the “Highlander” series. I didn’t care for the second installment (although I’m going to review the “Renegade Version” later), and the third film was basically an attempt to breathe new life into the theatrical series.

highlanderI don’t even believe I’ve ever seen an episode of the long-running syndicated television show, and was amazed at an insert inside the DVD offering all five seasons on video. Five seasons. That is a lot of “Highlander.” Still, nothing compares to the original, which was a pleasant mix of action and mythology from writers Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood and Larry Ferguson. Directed with flair and style by Russell Mulcahy, “Highlander” benefitted from a bigger than life song score by Queen, and the presence of Sean Connery as Ramirez, the mentor of Connor McLeod, played by Christopher Lambert. McLeod is a 16th century Scottish warrior, who like Ramirez, is an immortal.

The only way to kill them is to behead them. The film follows Connor as he battles his ancient enemy through several centuries, ending up in modern day Manhattan for one final showdown. Mulcahy instills a wild sense of abandon in the film, infusing it with powerful fight sequences and numerous deaths. There is also a love story that spans the centuries, but the relationship between Ramirez and Connor is what gives the film its emotional ballast. Like other films dealing with mentor-prodigy relationships (“The Karate Kid” instantly comes to mind), the best moments come as Ramirez fine tunes Connor for battle.

The film has a kinetic feel, with lots of explosions, both physical and emotional. Lambert is quite good as the anguished warrior who has seen several life times and loves come and go. Clancy Brown is actually quite menacing as Connor’s longtime nemesis Kurgan, while Roxanne Hart manages to survive the testosterone battlefield, playing Connor’s current love interest. The plot is all over the place, and yet the director manages to make sense of it all. I just wish the sequels had as much energy and style as this film.


VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ ] Good [ X ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

Obviously THX Certification means very little. The images in this certified disc are absolutely muddy. Constant haze and grain permeate almost veery scene. I thought it was a low light transfer problem, but even in daylight the scenes the images are muddy. Delivered in the film’s original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio, the colors are washed out and unappealing, while blacks are laughable at best. Flesh tones look pale, while depth of field is nonexistent. No attention to detail, especially in freeze frame mode. It’s hard to tell if the original negative is clean or not. Whites look like there is a fly infestation on the screen.

HEARING: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Too bad the film’s soundtrack wasn’t offered as a music-only track. At least that would have made the DVD good for something. The Dolby Surround soundtrack is actually quite pleasing, with strong basses and decent middle and high ends. The Queen songs sound excellent, barreling out of both front and rear speakers with assurance. Ambient noise is effective, while the dialogue mix gets the job done. Surround effects are okay but not overpowering. No real hiss or distortion.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Poor

Closed captions in English for the hard of hearing, subtitles in Spanish.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

Join director Russell Mulcahy and producers Peter Davis and William Panzer for what is your basic running audio commentary. Interesting stuff, but no major revelations. There is also a section containing hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos and the film’s original script (with revisions). Unfortunately, there’s a glitch that causes all of the images to fly by faster than the speed of light. It finally settles down, but not until the end. You can use the slow button on your remote to slow down this madness, but the images come out a little blurred. The DVD also features the film’s original theatrical trailer.

PROGNOSIS: [ ] Excellent [ ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ X ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

The Highlander may be immortal, but it seems as if someone has decapitated the DVD.

VITALS: $29.98/Rated R/116 Minutes/Color/30 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#45895




HMO: Artisan Entertainment

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