|Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez|
Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez was an ancient immortal of Egyptian origin. He sought out Connor MacLeod, and took him under his wing, teaching him the rules of the Game. Most importantly, he warned Connor about the Kurgan, who had given him his first death, and prepared Connor to face him, believing that Connor would be the one to end his reign of terror.
Born in Ancient Egypt under the name Tak Ne, Ramírez's earliest life remains shrouded in mystery. He married twice in his first 400 years of life, losing both wives to old age.
Towards the year 590 BC, Tak Ne met, courted, and married Shakiko, daughter of the master swordsmith Masamune. As a wedding gift, the weapon master forged Tak Ne a magnificent katana with an ivory handle. Tak Ne would keep the weapon with him until his dying day. Eventually, the day arrived when Tak Ne first lost his father-in-law, and then his third wife. In grief, he swore off any further committed relationships to mortal women, and never remarried.
Way of the Sword
In the year 476 BC, Tak Ne had become a citizen and soldier of Sparta. When the Persian Army invaded Greece, he would face his first battle with his future nemesis, The Kurgan, in the Battle of Plataea. Tak Ne's katana proved more than a match for the Kurgan's crude blade of the time, and it was only a fall down a cliff that saved the evil Immortal. Tak Ne would encounter Kurgan twice afterward, once in Babylonia and again in ancient China, before their final confrontation in Scotland.
By 1541, at the age of 2,437 years old, Tak Ne was living in Spain, working as the Chief Metallurgist to King Charles V under his new name of "Ramirez." He had studied swordsmanship from the world's most skilled immortals, including the sorcerer Nakano and Graham Ashe. By this time he also had a strong feud with the Kurgan, and had followed his dangerous adversary's movements for some time. Thus, when word reached Ramirez of the Kurgan's attempt on the life of a young Scottish warrior, the ancient immortal decided to investigate. Thus did Ramirez introduce himself into the lives of Connor and Heather MacLeod.
Connor and Ramirez enjoyed a good friendship, rising from a teacher/pupil relationship to that of brothers and equals fairly quickly. Ramírez took the Highlander as his student, teaching Connor the finer points of the Game, the Gathering, and on living as an Immortal. He was a strict and demanding teacher, never hesitating to humble MacLeod the moment he made a mistake. Although their training lasted for a very short time, Ramirez left an indelible impression on the young Highlander — the value of fine skill over brute force, a taste of the theatrical, the wonder of the world beyond Scotland, and most of all, the connection between "all living things."
Ramirez was also quick to forecast a dark future in Connor's relationship to Heather. He solemnly advised Connor to leave his wife, reminding the young MacLeod of the Immortal inability to bear children, and of the inevitable pain of loss from old age. As his example, Ramirez related his past with Shakiko, and the emotional price he payed. Despite showing his disapproval when Connor refused, Ramirez still chose to respect his student's decision.
In 1542, while Connor was away hunting, the Kurgan returned. Ramirez, sitting with Heather, leapt to the challenge, katana in hand. In a titanic battle the two Immortals traded blow after blow, blasting away rock and wall and bringing Connor and Heather's stone tower down in a massive avalanche of wreckage.
The turning point came when Ramirez, although leaving a permanent scar in Kurgan's neck, found himself trapped by the sheer physical power of his opponent. Kurgan, grabbing the blunt side of Ramirez's katana, easily pinned his old adversary's sword arm and brought his lethal broadsword up for the killing stroke. Ramirez summoned up one last bit of anger, spitting on his enemy before the blade took his head.
Connor buried Ramirez next to his ruined home in Glencoe, and, after Heather died, he buried her alongside him. He used his own broadsword as Heather's grave marker, keeping his mentor's katana in remembrance of his old friend.
As with all continuities, Ramirez' death was avenged in 1985 with Connor killing The Kurgan once and for all - and in this continuity, he also won the Prize after that final fight.
While Ramirez' story and fate has remained relatively the same (give or take a few details, like Otavio Consone being his student), in the movie continuity that consists of the first and second film, Ramirez's role is expanded greatly, by making him integral to Connor's pre-Highlander life, and also being resurrected after 500 years.
Ramirez was formerly an instigator of a rebellion against the oppressive General Katana at some time in the distant past (originally planet Zeist as in the original version), where he chose Connor MacLeod to be their new leader. However shortly after a bonding ceremony between the two men, General Katana attacks and destroys the rebellion, forcing The Priests of that place to condemn Ramirez and MacLeod to exile in the future, so as to prevent the Immortal kind to win the Prize anywhere near their timeline (or to Earth, and the winner of the prize would be able to return to Zeist). But, The Priests had also given them a choice: In addition to winning the Prize in the future, they would have the ability to return to that distant past.
Highlander 2 implies that Ramirez found Connor in the movie continuity because of an intuitive bond that they shared, a bond which started in this film's first flashback.
Coming Back To Life
After winning the Prize in 1985, and having aged considerably by 2024, Connor MacLeod was attacked by two Immortals who were sent to kill him by Katana from the distant past/planet Zeist. After defeating both Immortals, Connor used the second Quickening that he received to summon Ramirez back to life in 2024, possibly as a consequence of briefly regaining the Prize, however Ramirez' return took him by surprise. Ramirez himself returned to life in Scotland and seemingly knowing when MacLeod was, set off to meet him.
After some problems with adapting to the modern age, in particular television and airplanes, he reached MacLeod and joined his efforts to defeat General Katana and shut down the planetary solar shield. When in the process, Ramirez rescued MacLeod from a trap by seemingly releasing all his life energy at once in the manner of telekinesis - probably a result of Ramirez's Quickening having been part of Connor's consciousness for so long, he might have acquired some of the skills MacLeod said he might have at the end of the first film. Ramirez ended up sacrificing his "ghostly" apparition to save Connor and Louise, and with this sacrifice they were able to learn that the company for which Connor once built The Shield had deceived him, and allowed Connor to right all wrongs, by shutting down the Shield installation, and killing General Katana.
In 1994, Connor's old enemy, Kane, was freed from the Mountain of Niri after almost 400 years of entrapment. The two meet in a Buddhist Shrine in New York City and, after an intense fight, Kane almost kills Connor. However, due to the place being declared as Holy Ground, Kane ends up shattering Connor's blade, and left him behind. Connor then went to Scotland to regroup, both emotionally and physically, and also repaired his old mentor's blade by forging a new one, using Nakano's old metal. In the end, the blade he constructed might've been a new one, but Connor still chose to keep the handle of the Masamune, as a continuing tribute to his fallen friend.
TV Series Continuity
In this continuity, Ramirez's death wasn't undone. Instead, a legacy was made of him, sustained by his teachers Graham Ashe, and of course his pupil Connor MacLeod over the years. Even Connor's pupil, Duncan MacLeod, had in fact been told that there was "nothing he could not do with a sword".
As with all continuities, Ramirez's death was avenged in 1985 with Connor killing The Kurgan once and for all.
Its also worth noting that he had another student in this continuity, Otavio Consone, who would later face Duncan MacLeod in combat.
Ramirez was very much the sophisticated man for his time. He was very appreciative of art and culture in the "modern world," often dismissing Connor's Scottish customs as crude and barbaric. He was a ladies man; and would regale Heather with his many exploits, including the story of how he swung into a balcony room to woo the lady of his affections, only to wind up with a different lady staying there at the time. His charm and wit were counterpointed, however, by his somber half, which prompted him to shun marriage and committed relationships.
Ramirez would sum his style to Connor in one simple word: "balance." His preferred form of sword combat was oriental, reflecting his relationship to Shakiko and Masamune and his use of the ivory-handled katana. Ramirez was adept at both one-handed and two-handed forms.
Behind the Scenes
*Before Sean Connery was cast as Ramirez, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Lee Van Clief, Clint Eastwood, Malcolm McDowell & Sir Peter O'Toole were considered for the role.
*An inside joke in the film was how Connor MacLeod explained the concept of haggis which Ramirez finds repulsive, and is disgusted when he learns the purpose of haggis is to be eaten. Sean Connery was born in Scotland.