Welcome to the first Drunk Movie Monday of 2014! As we move into the future, my tipsy cinematic taste is still firmly stuck in the 80s, because let’s be honest–that’s where all the good shit is. This week, the bad 80s adventure fantasy film in question is:
The original Highlander film, not to be confused with the similarly campy but significantly more sensical spin-off TV show Highlander. I hope you’re stocked up on liquor because this one is a doozy.
The film: Highlander (1986)
The premise: Basically, there are these special people called Immortals, who live forever unless you cut their heads off. They can steal each other’s powers by killing each other, and there’s lots of talk about how “there can only be one,” which is weird because new ones pop up all the time so who knows how that’s suppose to work. Our protagonist in this film is one Immortal in particular, Connor MacLeod/Russell Nash (the TV protagonist is Duncan MacLeod, who is related to Connor but not him, because retconning–don’t get confused), who has no personality to speak of, but he does have a sword and an ever-changing accent so I guess that makes up for it? He was originally a Scottish clansman back in the 1700s, but then he died and revived as an Immortal and now he has Dramatic Angst because all his friends are dead. Or something. I don’t know, it’s kind of unclear because he never reacts to anything in any kind of emotional way.
The film itself weaves back and forth between multiple eras in a way that I think was going for “masterful” but instead reaches the much lower target of “baffling.” They utterly fail to set up the premise at all; I was only able to make sense of the plot because I already knew what it was from watching the show, and I had to explain it to Emily, who was watching with me. Essentially, Connor has to leave his clan because they think he’s a demon for reviving, and then he marries a hot girl with no personality (who gets raped for Connor’s character development), and then Sean Connery mentors him and gets killed by the big baddy “the Kurgan,” and then in modern day (read: the 80s) New York, he battles the Kurgan and becomes THE ONE. Until the TV show. Oh, and he marries another hot girl with no personality, and somewhere in there WWII shows up. I don’t know. It’s confusing.
Why you should watch it:
Sean Connery, kind gentlefolk of the interwebs. Sean. Motherflipping. Connery.
In this film, Sean Connery plays a man named, humbly, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez. Juan Sánchez is an Immortal from ancient Egypt, working in the service of Spain where he acquired a red pimp suit with peacock feather cape and bitchin’ hat, who once married a Japanese princess and thus carries a katana. His is the only genuinely Scottish accent in the entire film, and he plays a goddamn Egyptian/Japanese Spaniard. I just. Look at him. Look at him.
While the rest of this film suffers horribly from constantly over-reaching in its efforts to acquire gravitas, Sean Connery just kind of waltzes in and takes over. His scenes are 1000x better than any other in the film, and he is 90% of the reason you should watch it while heavily inebriated (the other 10% is the soundtrack, by Queen, because Queen, bitches). Suffering through the non-backstory and weird special effects and bad fight choreography and complete failure on literally every character’s part to emote at all becomes totally worth it the moment this magnificent bastard shows up on screen. Seriously, they should have just made the movie about him, because look at that smug asshole. Damn. I smell a brilliant and obscure cosplay opportunity.
The drinking game: Drink every time you can’t place Connor/Russell’s accent. Drink twice if it’s in one of the Scottish highland scenes, where he doesn’t have the excuse of living through other cultures to obscure his Scottish brogue.
Bonus: Drink every time the plot fails to live up to the epic soundtrack.
Where it’s available: Netflix, for it is a kind and smiling god.
“I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!” -the Kurgan, Highlander
P.S. There is a sequel to this film. In fact, there are two sequels. I have not seen either of them, but I heard a rumor that one of them involves the discovery that Immortals are actually aliens. As you can imagine, I fully intend to watch these films while as intoxicated as I can possibly manage.