Friday, April 6, 2012

RETROGRADE REVIEWS Presents...

THE BOXING DAY SPECIAL: Highlander edition [2010]


And so comes the end of the year, and the end of another batch of my incessant drivel. 

Here I present my stream-of-conscious, highly subjective review of one of my favorite cinematic villains.

The Kurgan, HIGHLANDER (1986)

"The Prize is MINE!"

I first saw HIGHLANDER exactly 10 years ago today. I was a big James Bond fan and, realizing this, my dad gave me this film for Christmas, with the inducement that Sean Connery was in it.

This was the first time I'd even heard of DVD so that made it a little more special. Of course being 12, I really didn't give a crap about what format it was in - all that was running through my brain was this important equation:

Sean Connery + swords = AWESOME.

And it was pretty good. It didn't make much sense, but it sure looked nice - all leering low angles, wide frames and old men doing backflips. In the rain.

And then Sean Connery turned up. Ah bliss. I was all set for a buddy movie in the style of the great LAST CRUSADE (1989).   

And then the Kurgan turned up.

Now anyone who's seen this movie knows the Kurgan pops up long before Sir Sean, but I wasn't really paying attention at first. I just sort of filed him into the role of villain (He's big, he's wearing black and his sword is bigger than the hero's) and moved on. I was more interested in the Scots-accented Egyptian with the Spanish name and the Japanese sword.

But the Kurgan killed my reason for watching this movie. Cut off his head. I rewound just to check. Yep. There it goes. Bugga...

From then on, all bets were off. 

The Kurgan continued hacking and bellowing his way through the movie, while I waited in hope that Connery would turn up and run him over with his Aston Martin. I was completely oblivious to the fact that this guy was totally friggin' awesome.

The moment I was totally convinced the Kurgan was in fact totally friggin' awesome came, fittingly, during the famous confrontation in the Cathedral. After eyeing up some nuns and loudly recounting some of his bloody escapades (including Connery's demise, the ass), he licks the priest's hands in mock homage and utters a line so famous it was later used by Kurt Cobain (sort of):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bOKsOveYD0

Taking a cue from our subject, I'll cut to the chase.

The simple fact is, the Kurgan is the best thing in this movie, and that's thanks to a glorious blitzkrieg of a performance by the great Clancy Brown.

That low, guttural voice, those big black eyes, those horrendous staples in his neck, even the heavy metal sturm-und-drang of his Queen-penned theme tune (feel free to rock out at the link below*) - everything about this guy screams "I AM A BADASS. GIVE ME MY FREE PASS TO RAPE, PILLAGE AND OBLITERATE ALL BEFORE ME!"

He's so ridiculously evil everyone else in this movie appears lifeless, and, in the case of the ex-007, boring. When he's not onscreen you want him to come smashing into the scene and start slicing and dicing these moping sods. When he's onscreen, you're wondering why he's messing around with little Christopher Lambert (whoever had the thought of hiring a Frenchman to play a Scot was a friggin' genius**) and not off conquering the universe, carving some massive intergalactic realm of helpless galaxies with the aid of his massive broadsword and awe-inspiring laugh.

Yes, the laugh. The Kurgan's laugh is the feather in his cap the cherry on his mountain of awesome.*** I haven't documented this, but I'm pretty sure Clancy Brown has the best evil laugh in the history of cinema. Maybe everything. There is nothing like a good, hearty chuckle to cement your villainous credentials 

Even though the Kurgan ultimately falls victim to the dictates of genre-I mean, Lambert's blade, he still ends the movie on a high, giving the audience one final planet crushing smirk.

Though Lambert may ultimately win the 'prize' (no, I still have no idea what it is), the Kurgan wins the greater glory - an endless supply of Youtube-assisted resurrections and repetitions.

And that's it. I'm off to frolic with wood nymphs and pixies! 

In the meantime, don't grow despondent. If you don't find better ways to waste time, I'll be back with a new batch of stuff.****

In the spirit of the season, but with no regard for what season it actually is, I'll leave the final salutation to the character we celebrate today:

"Happy Halloween ladies!" 

*http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TbsLV2yklw
**optional sarcastic tone  
*** I need a thesaurus 
****I REALLY need a thesaurus  


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