Home > Books & Comics > Review: Fearful Symmetry – The Essential Guide to Highlander…

Review: Fearful Symmetry – The Essential Guide to Highlander…

Impact’s editor John Mosby has penned an ‘essential’ guide to all things Highlander. Mike Leeder reviews the extensive result of a thirty year project…

I was a huge fan of the first Highlander movie, dragging friends and family to see it when it came out, and even shelled out a hard to believe 55 quid for the Thorn EMI big box VHS when the film first hit home media. It was, without a doubt, the best film about immortal Scottish warriors played by Frenchmen who learn how to fight with swords from Egyptian’s played by Scotsmen, directed by an Australian and with a soundtrack by Queen…

Clocking in at an impressive 300+ plus pages, John Mosby’s book does exactly what it says on the cover and more, examining each and every aspect of the Highlander franchise from the big-screen movies to the small-screen series, the animated spin-offs, the video games, the audio books, the soundtracks, the paperbacks and everything else…

He begins the book by taking a look at the original concept for the first Highlander and how Gregory Widen’s project evolved, and how Russell Mulcahy, Christophe Lambert and Co. came to be involved with the project – including interviews with many of the key players in front of and behind the camera… where they discuss the highs and lows of the production, the marketing and reception from critics and audiences alike. They reveal certain facts I’d never known including the revelation that David Yip (The Chinese Detective, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) had played the Asian immortal who battled the Kurgan in a lost scene.


The subsequent sequels and their various highs and lows (and backstage shenanigans) are also explored, and none of the interviewees holds back with regards to their views on what was mishandled. From Lambert’s thoughts on Highlander 2 and the revelations of the Immortals origins, ‘all that planet Zeist crap?‘…the various issues that evolved out of shooting in Argentina as the economy collapsed… how the initial release version of the movie was put together by the completion bond people as opposed to the film-makers themselves. (Highlander 2: The Quickening was the first movie I saw upon arriving in Hong Kong – I went in expecting so much, was so disappointed that I blamed it on jet lag and returned a day or two later to watch it again… and to realise how mishandled it had been. The film was improved somewhat by the subsequent Highlander 2: Renegade and Zeist editions which are well worth tracking down).It is interesting to note that despite its many flaws, Highlander 2’s success is what lead to the franchise continuing.

Highlander 3, the missed opportunity of Highlander: Endgame (which included Donnie Yen amongst its cast) and the catastrophe that was Highlander: The Source are also discussed at length, and once again the issues that affected the productions are discussed openly in a series of revealing interviews.

The long running TV series is also explored – including its early-creation which saw Russell Mulcahy being approached to being involved and agreeing  (only to then never hear from them again). The series took some time to find its feet and the book discusses the issues that affected the first season: from casting and crew issues, the issues of shooting the series in both Europe and Vancouver… from Stan Kirsch revealing that while he’s best known to cult fans for his work on the series, but to mainstream audiences and his agent he’s best known for his appearance in Friends!  It’s also interesting noting just how many famous or soon-to-be-famous names appeared throughout the series and to read about many of their experiences on the show: Christophe Lambert (obviously) in the pilot, Joan Jett, Sheena Easton, Traci Lords, Danny Dyer, Cleo Rocos, Jason Isaacs, Roland Gift, Anthony De Longis, Dustin Nguyen, Joe Pantaliano, through more familiar recurring names who became closely associated with the series including Elizabeth Gracen, Jim Byrnes, The Who‘s Roger Daltrey and Peter Wingfield (who, like many, admits to taking the job initially for a chance to go to Paris!) Of course, series-star Adrian Paul discusses everything from getting the part to his experiences behind the camera as a director on the series as well.

HL-APThe animated series and Search for Vengeance movie are also explored, as is the female driven Highlander spin-off The Raven… as well as the developed-but-abandoned Highlander: Archangel mini-series and various other spin-offs both official and unofficial: visual and audio, the various novelisations, comic books, computer games including the long forgotten 1986 Highlander adaptation I used to play on my Commodore 64, (It was far from great but I tried to love it, because it was Highlander!) The varous soundtracks to the movies and series are listed and it all ends with a hint of what may be to come, with talk about the possible reboots of Highlander for both the big and small screen.

Its a great guide to the Highlander franchise, with well thought out exploration of the movies an series, great interviews with so many of the key players in front and behind the camera, including – sadly – some who are sadly no longer with us. It’s obvious that John is a huge fan of the franchise, but he never crosses over into fan-boy worship, and presents a very articulate and very entertaining and in-depth overview, which has got me planning to revisit the Highlander universe again,  resparking my memories of what first drew me to the mythos of this franchise. Much respect to Master Moz for putting this book together, he’s self-publishing it but its professionally presented and printed to a high quality and a worthy addition to anyone’s collection. In the end if there can be only one book on Highlander, may it be Fearful Symmetry…


‘Fearful Symmetry: The Essential Guide to all things Highlander’ is now available through Amazon.com and Amazon.co. uk


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2 Responses

  1. Paul

    It is too bad the music video director of the moment (David Fincher) and comic book writer of the moment (Alan Moore) got to make Highlander 2, or the budget should have gone in the television series instead of attempting a sequel.

    1. Mike Leeder

      Sorry Paul, not exactly sure what you are saying…

      Are you suggesting David Fincher and Alan Moore should have been involved with Highlander 2?

      With regards to the series I think the budget wasn’t really the issue, like so many shows it took some time to find its feet, about end of first season

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