Highlander: Immortal Edition

Starring: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, Jon Polito and Roxanne Hart
Optimum Classic
RRP: 17.99
Certificate: 15
Available 26 February 2007

1985 New York City; the battle to end all battles. The last remaining Immortals gather together to fight to the death: Decapitation alone can kill them, and victor alone can lay claim to "The Prize". Amongst the contestants is Connor MacLeod who fought his first battle in 1536 on the highlands of Scotland, and his most feared opponent, the evil Kurgan...

Highlander is one of those classic '80s movies that most 30-somethings remember fondly from their childhood. I haven't seen this movie for years and was expecting to have my fond memories of it ruined by watching it again. However, I still found it as enjoyable as I did when I first saw it over 20 years ago.

Immortal Scotsman, Connor MacLeod, is one of a race of immortals who can only be killed when beheaded with a sword. During a fierce battle in the 1500s MacLeod is mortally wounded but he does not die. Banished from his clan, for being in league with the Devil, MacLeod learns from the mysterious Ramirez that he is of a race of immortals. These rare knights never age and never reproduce, they can only meet death by the blade of another of their kind. Leap forward to the present day and The Quickening has begun - in this time the remaining immortals are few and for one remaining soul a glorious prize awaits.

The movie's most memorable line: "There can be only one" was obviously not referring to the DVD release. This is at least the third attempt to bring the movie to region 2 fans. As with previous releases, this one is a little lacking in quality features. In fact, there is so little in the way of added material that I'm surprised that they had the cheek to spread it over two discs. Come on. Are they really expecting us to believe that the additional features (which last for around 1hr 40mins) wouldn't have squeezed onto one disc? There are plenty of DVDs where much more material has been included on a single DVD - I'm thinking of The Mummy as a prime example.

On disc one all you get is the movie and an audio commentary with director Russell Mulcahy. Disc two offers up a new Making of featurette - which is split into three parts; an interview with Christopher Lambert (8:30); a trailer; and trailers for other movies.

The audio commentary is fairly run-of-the-mill, but Mulcahy does reveal some interesting observations on the making of the movie. He explains why the opening camera shot has never really been seen again in the movies - apparently it was used soon afterwards on another picture and the camera fell, killing someone. He also gives us a brief history lesson, explaining that in actuality MacLeod's clan would have fought in the nude and certainly wouldn't have been wearing tartan - as it hadn't been invented. Mulcahy also comes clean about moving some rocks while on location - rocks that Queen Victoria was said to have stopped to have a picnic on.

Another interesting point, made in the commentary, is that in the American version of the movie viewers don't realise that Connor's PA, Rachel, was rescued by him from the Nazis. The whole WWII segment was not available in the American cut of the movie. He also points out that the original actor cast in the role of the Nazi walked off set because he was getting bored of waiting around.

The Making of featurette comes in at a healthy 1hr 25mins and is split into three segments. The first, A Legend is Born, features new interviews with the movie's scriptwriter (Gregory Widen) and co-scriptwriter (Peter Bellwood). Widen reveals how the movie wasn't as serious as he wrote it and ended up a little to comic book in style. Even Clancy Brown complained to him that he thought his role should have been a little more serious. Bellowed also talks us through some plot threads that were talked about, but never saw the light of day. These include a scene where Connor is working in France as a window cleaner and accidentally falls on Napoleon - who has him hung for trying to kill him. The end result is Napoleon and Connor walking away from the gallows with Napoleon quizzing Connor on how he managed to survive the noose.

It was interesting to learn that the opening scene of the movie was originally scripted to be set at a hockey game. It was supposed to be the clashing of hockey sticks that reminded MacLeod of his Scottish sword battle. However, the National Hockey League didn't want anything to do with the movie and refused to let them film at a large hockey game.

The second part of the Making of featurette (The Visual Style) interviews director of photography (Gerry Fisher) and the set decorator (Allan Cameron). The third and final part (A Strong Woman) is an interview with Roxanne Hart, who played Brenda in the movie.

To be honest these extras make for a pretty poor offering when you consider that their are legions of fans out there who would have been expecting so much more. I can't say that I'd rush out to buy this if I already owned one of the previous DVD releases. And worse still, what happened to the Photo Poster Album and Filmographies extras from the 2006 release. Even the Region 1 edition has a better audio commentary with director Russell Mulcahy and producers Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer.

There can be only one Highlander DVD collection worthy of purchasing for your collection. Sadly, it's not this one - and to be frank fans are still waiting for it. If you want to add this movie to your collection you are probably better off picking up one of the earlier edition - the cheapest of which currently retails for £5,99. But then, if you've resisted buying the two previous DVD releases of this movie, I think you can probably wait a little longer for someone to do it justice.

Great film - poor presentation.

Darren Rea

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