Making the (Up)Grade: Highlander

Highlander finally makes the jump to 4K Ultra HD this month, bringing fans the best transfer of this film by far.

We are firmly in the next stage of movie media with 4K Ultra HD and that means a bunch of films are making the jump to the latest and greatest. Movie lovers find themselves facing the choice to upgrade their collections for their favorites, but it’s not always easy…That’s where we come in!


With some of these older films making the transition to the latest media platform, there’s not necessarily a need to do a brand new “review” of the films. After all, many of these are movies you’ve already watched/enjoyed and there’s little reason to rehash what makes them great. Instead, we’ll kick off a new article series specifically for these kinds of titles to help you determine if the jump to the new format is worth picking up, or if you should stick with what you have for the time being.

There can be only one, and that’s very much the case when it comes to Highlander on physical media. To be honest, the classic 80s film hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to HD transfers. I don’t know why, but like some other films from that time period (Lost Boys comes to mind immediately), attempts to bring it to higher definition in Blu-ray have largely been terrible.

Rather than improving the picture quality, it only seemed to enhance the grain, making them tough to watch, and sequences taking place in the “dark” were damn near impossible to make out. Because of this issue (even on streaming), it’s been a long time since I watched Highlander, despite it being among my favorite films when I was younger.

I’m very happy to say this new 4K transfer is GORGEOUS.

Seriously, there are several scenes in the film that look almost like they could have been filmed yesterday. That’s how clear it is. The blacks are super deep, allowing for crystal clarity in even the darker sequences (which is where most of the major fights take place). It’s impressive, and I was overjoyed at being able to revisit this film in a way my mind REMEMBERS it from when I was younger.

The downside, of course, is that flaws in the film can no longer be covered up. There are some shots where it’s clear the filmmakers were doing the best they could with what they had. Under normal, previous, circumstances, these shots wouldn’t necessarily stand out. Up against this excellent 4K upgrade, however, they stick out like sore thumbs.

Generally speaking, it’s not often enough to really take away from the experience, but certainly something I could see throwing people off who are experiencing the film for the first time…Speaking of which, it should be noted that Highlander hasn’t aged particularly well.

Again, I don’t normally get into the movie discussion in these type of articles, but I think it’s something worth noting here. If you enjoyed the film previously, you’ll absolutely love this 4K transfer. It’s just not likely to win over newcomers.

On top of certain elements not aging well societally, the action and overall story can’t hold up. Highlander was a movie/franchise that thrived off it’s driving idea and lore. As such the individual story being told feels like a mix-up of various scenes and ideas with only a thin thread connecting it all. Regardless, I still enjoy the film for what it is and the nostalgia from my childhood. Chances are, if you’re picking this new 4KUHD up, it’ll be for those same reasons.

If you’re among those fans, then you’ll definitely want to snag the Steelbook version from BestBuy. It’s a gorgeous cover and includes some mini-posters to boot. If you’re a fan and looking to add to your collection, that’s the way you’ll want to go.

All in all, Highlander on 4K Ultra HD is easily the best version of this film that exists. I still can’t believe how great the transfer looks. Even if you have a decent blu-ray version of the film, this upgrade is more than worth the price. Don’t skip this one.

Highlander on 4K Ultra HD is availalbe now in stores and online retailers.

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Jordan Maison
Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.