Highlander (1986) Director’s Cut 4k Blu-ray Review

Highlander 4k Blu-ray
Highlander (1986) 4k Blu-ray Disc Buy on Amazon

Lionsgate released a 30th Anniversary Director’s Cut of Highlander (1986) on 4k Blu-ray Disc on Dec. 13, 2022. The standard combo edition, along with a Limited Edition SteelBook from Best Buy, both include copies of the film on Blu-ray and in Digital. The film was directed by Russell Mulcahy and the screenplay is based on the story by Gregory Widen. 

In Highlander, an immortal named Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) jumps from 16th-century Scotland to 20th-century New York City to make sure an ancient enemy named Kurgan doesn’t win at a “Gathering” of immortal warriors. The film also stars Roxanne Hart as the forensic scientist Brenda Wyatt, Clancy Brown as Connor’s nemesis The Kurgan, and Sean Connery as the Egyptian immortal Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez.

Highlander has been criticized by more recent reviews as being campy and inconsistent (it does seem to blend genres, mixing fantasy with comedy and horror), but was innovative in many ways including camera work, transitions, and pre-CG effects that were highly respected in the industry. You also have to remember the film spawned a popular TV franchise that included six seasons of Highlander: The Series as well as two spin-offs. Here’s a review of the 4k Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate. 


Highlander is presented in 2160p at 1.85:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Vision/HDR10. Even though the bitrates showed about 77-80Mbps on average (with peaks over 100), this is not very good 4k video. The black levels are crushed (worse in some scenes than in others) and the contrast is lacking. You get the idea some of the source material must not have been that good, because the image should look much better than it does with HDR. And, some of the grains are so big you could eat them with a fork. Sharpness is not bad, but it’s sometimes hard to see the sharpness through all the grain. 

Still though, if you’re a fan of the movie you might find Highlander in 4k to be a successful upgrade. And, there are lots of redeeming qualities to the film that still stand up today: groundbreaking camera shots, special effects, some decent action, a good time-jumping script, and Sean Connery (adding some comedic relief as the Egyptian Juan Ramírez). The very cinematic final battle between MacLeod and Kurgan at around 1:50:00 is one the best, if not the best, visual moments in the film. 

“You cannot die MacLeod!”


The Highlander soundtrack is offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. This is not an upgrade in audio format from previous Blu-ray Discs, but there may have been some enhancements made. There are some surround-sound effects happening with the capacity of 5.1 channels. Subwoofers make the audio experience a much more immersive event. Dialogue is sharp and clean for the most part although there was some noticeable distortion depending on the scene. Some of the sound design also rendered a bit tinny.   

The movie, by the way, features select tracks from Queen (five created for the film) including the title “Who Wants To Live Forever” written by Brian May. The soundtrack alone is reason enough to purchase this movie on disc. 

Bonus Material

There is plenty of bonus material on this 4k Blu-ray Disc (and it’s nice that you don’t have to put in the Blu-ray to see it!) that provides excellent insight into the making of the film. The extras are, of course, presented in HD, but most bonus materials from any release are typically not in 4k. The extras feature interviews and clips of the movie with audio commentary. This is what you want from a classic (now considered “cult”) film such as Highlander

And, it’s almost easy to miss the included character cards under the digital code insert. There are four cards: MacLeod in Scotland, MacLeod in New York City, Ramírez, and one with a poster illustration. It’s always nice when you get little extras like this with physical releases.





Bonus Features