1980s Dark R-Rated Fantasy Epic Launched Fan-Favorite Franchise

By Matthew Flynn | Published

Immortal warriors, timeless quests, and an iconic 80’s rock soundtrack — the original Highlander movie is a cult classic that continues to captivate audiences. Revolving around the life of an immortal Scottish warrior, Connor MacLeod, the movie explores themes such as destiny, immortality, and the consequences of violence.

There Can Only Be One

Released in 1986, Highlander was directed by Australian filmmaker Russell Mulcahy who transformed a unique concept into a visually stunning, fantasy-action-adventure. Christopher Lambert starred as Connor MacLeod, an immortal warrior who discovers his destiny after a near-death experience in a 16th-century battle. The immortal Ramírez, played by the legendary Sir Sean Connery, mentors MacLeod in the ways of immortal life and swordplay.

Highlander‘s journey then swiftly shifts to 1985’s New York City, where Connor must thwart the malevolent immortal, Kurgan played by Clancy Brown, from claiming ‘The Prize. The prize will be awarded to the last remaining immortals at the Gathering, a decisive battle of survival.

The Difficult Task Securing Sean Connery

Highlander Christopher Lambert

The film’s production, backed by Thorn EMI, was a tour through time and across the Atlantic, blending traditional scenes in Scotland, England, and Wales with the bustling energy of New York City. Highlander‘s star power of Sean Connery was important to Mulcahy and the film’s backers, but getting him in the film was a challenge.

All of his scenes had to be filmed in one week to accommodate his busy schedule … a task Connery initially found impossible. Ultimately, the crew pulled it off, and Connery was paid $1M for one week of filming.

Highlander Didn’t Perform Well At Release

clancy brown highlander

Despite its mixed reviews, the film quickly gained a cult following, largely due to its extraordinary concept, memorable performances, and Queen’s hit soundtrack featuring Princes of the Universe and Who Wants to Live Forever.

The original Highlander film raked in $5.9 million in the U.S and $12.9 million internationally, despite undergoing slight modifications in its U.S release. Its increasing popularity led to a series of sequels and spin-offs, spanning across film, television, and animation.

The Franchise

Highlander II: The Quickening, Highlander III: The Sorcerer, Highlander: Endgame, and Highlander: The Source are part of the growing lineage of sequels. Although Highlander II was initially met with harsh criticism and deemed a flop, it’s clear the premise has staying power.

On television, Highlander was reincarnated through Highlander: The Series (1992-1998) and Highlander: The Animated Series (1994-1996), introducing new protagonists like Duncan MacLeod and Quentin MacLeod.

Henry Cavill Set To Star In The Reboot

News of a Highlander reboot has sent waves of excitement through the fanbase. Hollywood star Henry Cavill has been confirmed to play the lead role, with Chad Stahelski, director of the John Wick franchise, at the helm. After years of delays, the film is finally expected to start production in 2024.

Stream The Original Highlander On Amazon’s FreeVee


From its inception in 1986, Highlander seamlessly blended fantasy with action-adventure, capturing the imagination of its audience. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the timeless allure of its unique premise, good acting, and the right soundtrack. Despite the mixed reception of certain installments, Highlander’s influence on pop culture is undeniable.

Whether you’re unfamiliar with the franchise and curious to see what makes it as undying as the titular character or looking to revisit a classic, you can stream the original Highlander on FreeVee.