The 1986 fantasy-action adventure film, The Highlander, made Clancy Brown’s character, The Kurgan, a well-known title among moviegoers, and it’s now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The arch-nemesis of Connor MacLeod, The Kurgan is a dark force of a man (that you’ll love to hate) with an immortal spirit and a seemingly unstoppable will.
The Kurgan (or Victor) was born long ago in what is now called Russia and was taken in when he was young by the Kurgan tribe. The Kurgans were well known for their cruelty and had no issue with tossing children into pits full of starved dogs to watch the fight for their amusement.
Clancy Brown’s break-out role came as the villainous Kurgan in The Highlander, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The beef between the protagonist of the film, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), and the antagonist, The Kurgan (Clancy Brown), goes way back, as the two are discovered to be of an immortal race of warriors who may only be killed by beheading.
In 1536, Kurgan contracts with the Clan Fraser in a battle against the MacLeods on the stipulation that he is allowed to kill the Connor. The two battle and The Kurgan (Clancey Brown) runs Connor through with his blade, seemingly killing him on the battlefield.
However, Connor’s cousins show up and run him off before he can behead MacLeod. Connor recovers from his injuries, only to be accused of witchcraft by those closest to him and banished.
Conner leaves and wanders the highlands for some time before meeting Heather and marrying her. Five years later, while he is away, another warrior like himself shows up. Played by Sean Connery, Juan Ramirez seeks out Conner to tell him that he is the world’s only hope of defeating the Kurgan.
Only the Kurgan is tracking Ramirez and shows up at Conner’s house as well. Ramirez battles the Kurgan and loses, being beheaded. Clancey Brown plays such a terrible monster that killing Ramirez is not enough, and he rapes Conner’s wife before leaving.
Before Ramirez dies, he informs MacLeod of his status in life, telling him of his immortality and his role as an immortal warrior. Conner is meant to stop the evil essence of The Kurgan from being the last one standing in order to save humanity and bring peace. He must meet at The Gathering and fight until there is only one warrior standing. Hence, the movie’s most quotable line, “There can be only one.”
Clancy Brown didn’t get to say The Highlander’s most quotable line, but he made a lasting impression.
Fast forward to the 1980s, and Conner MacLeod is living in New York City (where The Gathering will be held) under the name of Russell Nash. He has been hiding and running from Clancey Brown’s Kurgen for centuries in search of a normal life because, as you all know, being immortal is not necessarily a gift.
Eventually, the two cross paths and the ultimate battle ensues. Though the movie is certainly guilty of coming across as a bit ham and cheesy, it led to the creation of several sequels, an animated series, and a live-action television show. There have even been recent talks of rebooting the franchise.
The original Highlander movie was considered a box office flop, as it only rendered around $12 million in proceeds worldwide. That seems like a big sum of money, but it definitely isn’t enough when the film costs around $19 million to create.
The passage of time has allowed movie lovers to find the beauty in the film, and Clancey Brown’s Kurgan performance alongside the chintzy action scenes has earned the film a cult following. Rotten Tomatoes gives Highlander a 71 percent approval rating, and the site’s critical consensus says, “People hate Highlander because it’s cheesy, bombastic, and absurd. And people love it for the same reasons.”
Clancy Brown was most recently seen in The Boys spin-off, Gen V, as the head of Godolokin University, Richard Brinkerhoff.
If you’re interested in rewatching the movie or even watching it for the first time, the 4K version of the film was released last year. Technology assures that you won’t have to worry about not getting a clear shot of Clancey Brown and the terrible battle scenes in the film.
If you’re not interested in purchasing a hard copy of the movie, you can watch it in high-quality streaming via Amazon Prime Video. Highlander has a runtime of just under two hours and is rated “R” (and there is some quite disturbing subject matter approached in the film), so you won’t want to invite the kids to watch.