|Portrayed by||Clancy Brown|
|Born||October 6, 1005 BC, Russia|
|Died||1985 (aged 2989–2990), New York City, New York|
The Kurgan is a fictional character from the first Highlander film, portrayed by actor Clancy Brown. He is an Immortal and the main antagonist to the character Connor MacLeod in Highlander, and the latter's ultimate opponent in the Gathering.
The Kurgan's life story is fleshed out in several Highlander spin-offs in various media.
The Kurgan—who was found on the shores of the Kurgan tribe where he was taken in and named Vitor—was born in what is now Russia on the border of the Caspian Sea. His tribe, the Kurgans, Juan Ramírez notes, were infamous for their cruelty, and were known to "toss children into pits full of starved dogs, and watch them fight for [the] meat" for amusement.
In 1536, the Kurgan hired himself out to Clan Fraser in their battle with the MacLeod clan, in exchange for allowing him to be the one to kill Connor MacLeod. In the midst of the battle, the Kurgan challenged MacLeod. Before Connor could strike, the Kurgan ran him through with his broadsword. However, Connor's cousins Angus and Dougal (along with other members of his clan) beat the Kurgan back, rescuing Connor from certain beheading. The Kurgan promised he would finish it, screaming: "Another time, MacLeod!!" Five years later, another Immortal, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, sought out the now fully Immortal MacLeod as the only hope of defeating the Kurgan. However, the Kurgan discovered this, and tracked them down to MacLeod's home. MacLeod was away, but Ramírez and Heather MacLeod, Connor's wife, were there. He battled Ramírez, who managed to slice Kurgan's throat (though not deep enough to behead him) before being impaled and decapitated himself; all while Heather watched. After taking Ramirez's Quickening, the Kurgan raped Heather and departed. MacLeod returned shortly after, narrowly missing his enemy.
The Kurgan and Connor MacLeod would meet again in 1985, in New York City, where the Gathering was to take place. During this time, the Kurgan was using his status as a NYC criminal skinhead gang leader as a disguised background to hide his true self and going by the alias "Victor Kruger." The last six Immortals at this time were he, MacLeod, Sunda Kastagir, Iman Fasil, Osta Vasilek, and Yung Dol Kim. Vasilek was beheaded by the Kurgan in New Jersey before he learned of Fasil's death in Madison Square Garden at the hands of the Highlander (McLeod). He then defeated both Kim and Connor's friend Kastagir, leaving just the two of them, McLeod and the Kurgan. In order to throw Connor's concentration off, the Kurgan kidnapped his then-girlfriend, a screaming Brenda Wyatt, and raced all the way to the Silvercup Studios building while driving down the wrong side of the street, playing chicken and running over pedestrians while gleefully singing the theme from "New York, New York."
MacLeod followed them to the site, where he and the Kurgan faced each other in deadly combat, with Brenda's life at stake. Disarming MacLeod, the Kurgan was distracted by Brenda bashing him over the head with a pipe. This distraction gave Connor the time to recover his sword and gather his composure, and the two ancient warriors clashed once more. MacLeod's calmness, maturity, and skill all proved to be superior to the Kurgan's, and ended up beheading his foe, his essence passing to the Highlander, winner of "The Prize."
The novelization of the film by Garry Kilworth expands on the Kurgan's early life.
The Kurgan's first death occurred in 970 BC, when his drunken father crushed his head with a rock. Upon returning to life, the Kurgan proceeded to force his father to swallow a searing hot stone, killing him. He then went off to join a group of bandits that raided caravans. He eventually encountered another Immortal, "The Bedouin," who revealed to him his true nature, and who became the only person who could be labeled as his friend. During the intervening centuries, the Kurgan took an incalculable number of Immortal heads.
Circa 410 AD, the Kurgan joined the Vandals, Goths, and Visigoths in attacking Rome and other Roman settlements, also fighting with the Goths against the Huns. He would then later ally himself with the Huns directly, fighting alongside Attila, around the year 453. From the fifth to thirteenth centuries, the Kurgan would spread terror with the Tartars of the Gobi and ancient Turkey, as well as with Viking raiders and the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan.
Highlander II: The Quickening
In the final shooting draft of the Highlander II: The Quickening screenplay, it was revealed that the Kurgan was in fact originally sent from the planet Zeist to Earth by General Katana in order to hunt down Connor MacLeod and Ramirez before either of them could win "The Prize," and therefore return to Zeist. The scene was scheduled for filming, and actor Clancy Brown contacted about reprising his role in the sequel, but Brown declined.
Highlander: The Series
After Darius's death in Paris, in 1993, Duncan MacLeod returned to Seacouver to learn more about the Watchers, and the Hunters. His investigation led him to Joe Dawson, a Watcher, who had no alternative but to tell him who they were. To exemplify the Watchers' knowledge, Dawson showed Duncan his fellow Clansman Connor's, the Kurgan's, and his own personal databases. Among other Immortals listed as being slain by the Kurgan in this database were Ivan Trotski and Flavio Parocchi. In contrast to the Kurgan's background in the film continuity, the series portrays the Kurgan as being much younger, having received his immortality in 1453 (according to the screen display that Joe shows Duncan). According to Dawson, Connor MacLeod did the world "a big favor" by killing the Kurgan.
In the Watcher Chronicles DVD supplements, it's also mentioned that from 1981 to 1985, the Kurgan was watched by future leader of the Hunters, James Horton.
Highlander: Way of the Sword
In 476 BC, allying himself with the Persians as part of a special fighting unit, Kurgan took part in the Battle of Plataea in ancient Greece. During the battle, he faced off with a Spartan warrior who wielded a katana made by the master swordsmith Masamune, strong enough to shatter Kurgan's blade. He escaped by falling down a cliff, and was borne away by the flow of the battle. From this experience, Kurgan learnt the value of steel and a well-crafted blade. The Spartan warrior fought in the battle was revealed to be fellow Immortal Tak Ne, later known as Ramírez. Kurgan would also encounter him in Babylonia and ancient China before their final confrontation in Scotland.
Kurgan would join the naval forces of Napoleon Bonaparte of France in 1804, and while serving aboard one ship, would run into Connor MacLeod serving aboard the H.M.S. Victory under Admiral Nelson. MacLeod was able to fatally stab Kurgan, but before he could behead him, a mainmast fell, and the two were separated. Moreover, MacLeod’s weapon became lodged in the Kurgan’s body. The ship sank, taking Kurgan to the sea’s bottom, where he revived and claimed the Masamune katana as his own.
After these events, Kurgan would return to his native Russia, pillaging alongside the Cossacks near the end of the nineteenth century. During the First World War, in 1918 Galluzo, Italy, Kurgan hired two gypsy women, Natasha and Stasya, to lure Francesco, an Immortal monk, from holy ground with the promise of sexual favors. Once the monk left holy ground, Kurgan challenged him, and quickly took his head. Afterwards, he had his way with the two women. While Kurgan slept, Stasya managed to steal MacLeod's Masamune katana in payment for services rendered, but left Kurgan his claymore.
During the 1960s during the Cold War, Kurgan entered into an unholy partnership with the government of the Soviet Union to create a genetically engineered army of mortal super-soldiers purportedly loyal to the U.S.S.R., but in fact created to aid Kurgan in his quest for "The Prize" – men possessing greatly slowed metabolism and aging, as well as superior fighting and swordsmanship abilities. Kurgan and these soldiers would confront Connor MacLeod and a group of other fellow Immortals in 1964, with Kurgan himself gravely (yet temporarily) wounded during the battle, allowing Connor and the others to escape with their lives.
These devoted followers of Kurgan would continue to remain active for decades, even following his death in New York City in 1985, seeking to destroy MacLeod for his actions in the first Highlander film. Kurgan's influence would continue to be felt in the world for some time to come – Connor MacLeod received a "Dark Quickening" from his enemy, resulting in the deaths of several innocent Immortals at Connor's hands in early 1987, until Duncan MacLeod aided in purging Kurgan's last influences from his cousin's tortured psyche.
Known Quickenings of The Kurgan
The Kurgan was one of the most powerful Immortals on the planet and killed his opponents like a savage. Here is a list of some of his known quickenings from the original movie, novelization, TV series and comic books.
- The Bedouin, unknown (Novelization)
- Ivan Trotski, 1472 (The Watchers)
- The Mongol, 1535 (Novelization)
- Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, 1541 (Highlander)
- Flavio Parrochi, 1664 (Novelization/The Watchers)
- Francesco, 1918 (Highlander: Way of the Sword)
- Osta Vasilek, 1985 (Highlander)
- Yung Dol Kim, 1985 (Highlander)
- Sunda Kastagir, 1985 (Highlander)
- Garry Kilworth, Highlander film novelization (1986), pp. 290-92.
- Highlander film novelization (1986), p. 293.
- Garry Kilworth, Highlander film novelization, pp. 290-91. The Kurgan's past centuries spent raiding with many of history's most notorious barbarian tribes are detailed.
- J.T. Krul, Highlander: Way of the Sword comic book series (2008), Dynamite Entertainment, Issue #3, pp. 2-6.
- Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood, and Larry Ferguson, Highlander movie screenplay (1985); J.T. Krul, Highlander: Way of the Sword comic book series (2008), Dynamite Entertainment, Issue #4, pp. 1-5. Ramirez is shown marrying his Japanese wife Shakiko in ancient Japan, and is called by his Egyptian name of Tak Ne by her father, Masamune, during the flashbacks.
- J.T. Krul, Highlander: Way of the Sword comic book series (2008), Dynamite Entertainment, Issue #1, pp. 1-5.
- Garry Kilworth, Highlander film novelization (1986), p. 291.
- J.T. Krul, Highlander: Way of the Sword comic book series (2008), Dynamite Entertainment, Issue #2, pp. 1-6.
- Brandon Jerwa and Michael Avon Oeming, Highlander comic book series (2006), "The Coldest War," Dynamite Entertainment, Issue #1, pp. 11-12.
- Brandon Jerwa and Michael Avon Oeming, Highlander comic book series, "The Coldest War," (2006-07), Issue #2, pp. 7-14, 19-23; Issue #3, pp. 1-5, 8-17, 21-26; Issue #4, pp. 1-5, 10-13, 15, 19-23, 26. The events surrounding Connor MacLeod and Kurgan's encounter in East Germany in January 1964 are shown in this series.
- Brandon Jerwa, Highlander comic book series, Issue #6, pp. 1-10, 12-19, 21-25; Issue #7, p. 1-6, 19-25; Issue #8, pp. 1-6, 9, 21-26; Issue #9, pp. 1-8, 11-16, 19-26. In February 1987, Connor MacLeod is kidnapped by another fellow Immortal, and is successfully purged of his Dark Quickening during the subsequent ensuing confrontations.