Can Be Only One"
Michael Kamen (Score)
It all started with the coining of a phrase, which
should have resulted in only 1 movie, but instead ended up with 3 sequels, a TV spin-off
(which lasted some 6 years!!) AND then a spin-off TV show FROM to the first TV spinoff
show (and not to mention a CARTOON SERIES!!).
The Phrase was, and still is, "There can be only One" and the film was of course
Since 1986 we've seen one Connor MacLeod (Christoper Lambert) battle to the Death with
several of his immortal fellows, who unlike Connor want to kill all other immortals to
claim their prize.
The Original Highlander, which many (including myself) still consider to be the best of
this saga, after 15 years still has that air of originality that it's subsequent sequels
and TV shows just can't quite capture. Having Loved the Original movie I've still quite
enjoyed the TV series, as well as Film #4 (which surprised me seeing as parts 2 and 3 were
complete and utter bollocks!)
So anyhoo, #1 tells the story of Connor Macleod and his beginnings as in immortal. Born in
the 16th Century, Connor is now some 400 odd years old (the film is clearly set in 1985).
While at a wrestling match in maddison Square Gardens (USA) Connor is confronted by
another immortal, who is there to kill Connor. Luckily Connor does his adversary in, but
is caught by the police as he attempts to escape. (problem is the cops can't actually
prove that Connor Killed the baddy).
The Film goes back and forth between present day and the 16th century to when Connor was
still a mortal being, to when he looses his mortality at the hands of Kurgan (Clancy
Unbeknownst to Connor, Kurgan knows that Connor is "one" and kills him with the
intent of making him an immortal so he can do battle with him, and kill him again!
With Connor's return from the Dead, the townspeople believe it to be the Devil's work, and
Connor is banished from the town. He retreats to a hideaway castle where he meets a mortal
girl Heather, falls in love and they marry (At this stage Connor is unaware he is
Five Years pass and Connor is tracked down by a friendly Egyptian immortal, Remerez (the
ever reliable Sean Connory). Remerez proceeds to teach Connor the way of the immortals.
Back in the 20th Century, Brenda (Roxanne "Chicago Hope" Hart) has found the
dead guy's ancient sword as well as metal fragments from Connor's Sword so decides to do
some snooping, which keeps leading her to Connor.
Kurgan has also tracked Connor down, after slaying many more immortals, leaving only a
handful left to fight.
Pretty soon, there will be only 2 immortals left to do battle...and then...there can be
only one :)
|So how does this transfer hold up?
Before I start getting picky with this Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer,
let me say that I was most impressed with the job Universal have done in bringing this
film to Region 4 DVD for the 15th Anniversary DVD Edition.
Having sat through the APPALLING region 1 "10th Anniversary THX APPROVED
version" many times (and trust me, it's a shocker), this region 4 PAL version is
simply stunning by comparison.
Universal's transfer has sourced a nice print indeed (I am told it came from Europe), and
god damn does it look clean. You're really going to be hard pressed to find any serious
nicks and scratches here.
The only real problems that show up on this slightly dated print, are somewhat muted
colours, a light level of constant grain, and under exposed shots.
Colour Saturation really isn't that bad and is quite consistent throughout, but it does
lack vibrancy (it's still perfectly watchable though, just take a few things into account
At around the 69 minute mark where Connor is talking to his wife on her bed, there is
quite a lot of fluctuation in the over all colour level. (sort of a green/Blue
Given the excessive amount of Noise Reduction applied to the region 1 version (it appears
as though you were looking at the picture through a fly screen), our region 4 version
shows very little sign of noise reduction being applied at all, and this results in a
rather smooth and detailed picture. Given this, I really have no problem with the light
smattering of grain in this film. (it gives it that gritty feel which ironically does the
film some good :)
Black level is quite good, but is perhaps a fraction too low, so shadow detail is reduced
only just a little. Sharpness on a whole is very good, resulting in a pleasant looking
image. (there is little, to no signs of edge enhancement here)
Spread over 2 layers of an RSDL DVD, the layer change occurs at the 70:24 minute mark,
WITHIN chapter 11 on a nature fade in/out, and offers only a minor disruption to some low
It may have been made 15 years ago when 5.1 Digital Sound wasn't
available in Cinemas, but Highlander has received a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix
(which was actually made for the 10th Anniversary Laserdisc release in the USA and taken
from the 16 track mag reel..or something like that :).
The sound is sadly quite dated, and comes across with a thinness. Thankfully
universal have seen fit to encode this 5.1 track at the higher 448kbps data rate, so it
could have been worse. The 5.1 track does show great improvements over the Dolby
Digital 2 Track version also contained on the disc, which has virtually NO
surround usage, and is considerably less dynamic.
On the 5.1 mix there has been more focus to creating a wide spread across the front, with
a decent amount of split surround usage.
Dialogue is easy to hear, but you'll notice it too is quite thin, and very ADR sounding
(syncing is only ever a fraction out, if that, which I don't consider a problem here).
As was done for the music in Flash Gordon, QUEEN were called
upon to supply some songs, for Highlander, and personally this is the best aspect of the
film. The combination of Michael Kamen and Queen to the Highlander Score is a first
class job with a fantastic array of music across the board. On a Trivial note, I
found it rather interesting that NONE of the Queen songs are listed in the closing
credits. Granted these where made SPECIFICALLY for the movie, but I'd like to know
what the damn songs are actually called! :)
Extras are somewhat limited, but are a welcome addition.
- Animated menus with 2.0 sound (these are
quite snazzy, but not long enough :)
- Interview with Christopher Lambert. this
one's actually in FRENCH with English subtitles, but is a very nice addition. the
interview was made about 13 years after Highlander, when Russell Mulcahy was making
Resurrection with....Mr Lambert
- Music Video - Queen's
"highlander" song..nasty old "SP Beta" looking sourced clip
- Photo Gallery (15 publicity Stills)
- Cast and Crew Filmographies. these are a
little different. 3 different listings with scrolling film titles and background video
action of snippets from eth movie (you can also FFwd, Reverse and pause, etc if you like)
All in all Fans of Highlander will be thrilled with this
region 4 DVD. The Picture has never looked better and the sound's not as good as films of
today, but not too shabby either . It's just a pity we're missing the excellent
commentary track found on that nasty region 1 "Republic release" DVD :(
If you're a fan, you're still gonna want to buy superior looking version NOW!
never looked better!!
- 5.1 WOW Factor
6/10 can sound quite thin at times
6/10 sooo much better than the stereo mix
|| 4/10 good interview piece
TV: Pioneer SD-T50W1 (16:9 RPTV)
DVD: Pioneer DV717 (using RGB outputs)
Receiver : Denon AVC-A1SE THX Ultra (Dolby Surround EX, DTS-ES Discrete)
Mains: Quadral Amun
Centre: B&W CDMC-SE
Surrounds Left/Right: M&K SS500 (Dipole)
Surrounds Back : Polk RT/fx (Diplole)
Subby: M&K V125
- Reviewed 25th September 2001
* jpeg files for internet
promotion use only. Copyrightę exists on all aspects of these files by Universal Pictures