Michael Ironside recalled his experiences on the film: "Yeah, listen, I hated that script. We all did. Me, Sean, Chris... we all were in it for the money on this one. I mean, it read as if it had been written by a thirteen year old boy. But I'd never played a barbarian swordsman before, and this was my first big evil mastermind type. I figured if I was going to do this stupid movie, I might as well have fun, and go as far over the top as I possibly could. All that eye-rolling and foaming at the mouth was me deciding that if I was going to be in a piece of shit, like that movie, I was going to be the most memorable fucking thing in it. And I think I succeeded."
Christopher Lambert refused to use a fake sword for the fight scenes. In his first scene with it he cut his finger to the bone and Michael Ironside dislocated his jaw in the dome fight. After these accidents, Lambert agreed to use a plastic sword.
After "Highlander II" bombed at the box office, it was decided that the following films Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994), Highlander: Endgame (2000) and Highlander: The Source (2007) would be true and faithful to the original film, story, and mythology by ignoring "Highlander II: The Quickening" and disregarding Connor MacLeod and the Immortals' origins as extra-terrestrials. In fact, there is a long-running joke among Highlander fans that the official name of the third movie should have been "Highlander III: The Apology".
The idea for the film came about because Christopher Lambert enjoyed working with Sean Connery and really got along with him and Lambert wanted to work with Connery again for "Highlander 2", even though Ramirez died in Highlander (1986). A new story was written where Connor MacLeod, Ramirez and the Immortals were aliens from another planet and Ramirez is brought back to life when Connor undergoes The Quickening and calls his name.
This film was released on November 1, 1991, the same month that Freddie Mercury died of complications from AIDS. He and his bandmates in Queen had enthusiastically contributed several original songs to the soundtrack of Highlander (1986).
Unused scenes reveal that the Kurgan from the first film was also a resident of Zeist, and General Katana hired him to kill Connor MacLeod. The final battle between MacLeod and the Kurgan from the 1986 film is shown on a large screen to Zeist bettors, and when the Kurgan fails, Katana sends down the two assassins featured in the final cut of the film to take out MacLeod.
To recover the franchise, producers made the television series Highlander (1992). Christopher Lambert declined to reprise his role as Connor MacLeod, and the producers chose to create a new character. Lambert then accepted, and appeared in the pilot, to introduce the new hero, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul).
Christopher Lambert and Michael Ironside both suffered injuries while filming their swordfight. Lambert chipped one of Ironside's teeth, while Ironside inadvertently chopped off part of Lambert's finger. Both men recovered from their injuries, but Ironside said precision thrusts and parries were impossible when wielding a 22-pound broadsword.
Russell Mulcahy was so frustrated at being locked out of production that he tried to have his credit changed to "Alan Smithee". However, a section of his contract forbade him from publicly attacking the film before it was released. The producers said that if he had his credit changed it would be considered an attack and he would be sued.
In the Renegade version, a documentary following the film has the filmmakers explain why the original theatrical release contradicted the first film. According to them, inflation in Argentina had gotten so bad during filming that the film's insurance company started to take creative control and made a film they thought would make the most money.
Originally, Ramirez was not supposed to be in the film. However, Christopher Lambert had become such good friends with Sean Connery while filming the original, that he threatened to back out of this film, if Connery's character was not added to it.
An alternate ending - "The Fairytale Ending" - was shown in some European theaters but never shown in any of the American cuts. This ending shows Louise return with Connor magically to Zeist and embracing in front of a field of stars then transform into light streaks and fly off into space.
The Argentinian author Diego Curubeto explains in his book Babilonia Gaucha (dedicated completely to big movie productions filmed in the country) the secrets of the filming, like the different love affairs of Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery with some women in Buenos Aires.
The original screenplay featured several alternate sequences and more detailed exposition. For instance, three assassins confronted MacLeod, not two. They arrived during an elaborate wine-tasting sequence. Also, the Kurgan (the first film's antagonist) was revealed to be a henchman of Katana sent to Earth to prevent MacLeod and Ramirez from winning the Prize. Ramirez and Connor were seen reincarnated as their Earth identities, in Egypt and Scotland, respectively. One Zeist day was equal to one Earth century. When above the Shield, Ramirez's katana is magically returned to Connor.
Although the film was ultimately taken out of Russell Mulcahy's hands the British distributor allowed the director and producers a chance to re-edit the film. The British version runs ten minutes longer than the studio's cut and is much closer to the original script, including reinserted flashback sequences and an alternate ending.
One of the reasons of the big failure of the movie was the confrontation between Russell Mulcahy and the producers. As a result, the rush to finish the movie forced a new script where the origin of the immortals was the planet Zeist. When the movie was released Mulcahy left the premier after fifteen minutes and years later he released his famous "Director's Cut", called "The Renegade Version", in VHS and DVD. In this version, all references about Zeist were deleted and the origin was changed to Connor and Ramirez coming from Earth in the past and the technology from the past allowed them to go forward in time to Earth and new dialogue was written for the judges in the scene in the judge's chamber where Connor and Ramirez were standing trial for their crimes and General Katana and the judges observing Connor in the future through a hologram-like television set that was created for the "Renegade Version". Finally, in 2004 Mulcahy released the "Special Edition", where the shield above planet Earth is blue instead of orange. Also there are three endings, according the version: 1st - original final, with MacLeod smiling to Louise Marcus; 2nd - a new final where MacLeod and Marcus kissing on a lake; 3rd - MacLeod saying goodbye to Marcus, shining and levitating in the air. Marcus asks go with him and MacLeod agrees. Marcus flies towards MacLeod, they kiss and go. In the three endings Ramírez talks as voice over (like the previous film, Highlander (1986)).
During nine days of filming, Christopher Lambert was a client of the Buenos Aires' discotheques and night clubs, which made him unable to film any scene during the day, due to hangovers when he arrived to the set.
The production team, as well as Christopher Lambert, were reluctant to do the sequel because they had felt they had delivered a wonderful film with the original and did not want to do a sequel because the original film made money and they needed to come up with a good story before going ahead with it.
During the visit of the producers of the movie to Buenos Aires, Victor Bo, actor and director of low budget movies, tried to interest to the producers to make an American version of one of his worst movies: Los superagentes no se rompen (1979).
It is never explained why MacLeod and Ramirez became immortal upon their exile to Earth. An early script explained that one day on Zeist is the equivalent of one year on Earth, but this was never explained in the final film.
In Spain, Christopher Lambert's character is known as "Conner MacLeod" after that in the Spanish dubbed voice of Highlander (1986) Connor was turned in "Conner", and all later sequels were adapted in the dubbed voice according with it.
The fight scene between MacLeod and Katana on top of a moving truck was intended to be filmed during production, but when the film's completion bond company took over, the scene was scrapped. Four years later, Russell Mulcahy recruited Christopher Lambert, Virginia Madsen, and Michael Ironside to film the scene as originally intended. The fight appears in both the 1995 "Renegade" cut and the 2004 "Special Edition."
Some local artists worked behind the camera: Awafi, a company specialized in computer animations and some director's works, specialist in prosthetics Alex Mathews and specialist in visual effects Tom Cundom, who would later arm the grenade which blew up Argentinian actor Cesar Pierry.
Producer William N. Panzer and the production team constructed a story that took place in the future that dealt with important issues such as the depletion of the ozone layer and the destruction of the planet from ultraviolet radiation.
During the filming celebrities of Argentinian cinema told the local press that the movie received big subsidies from Argentina's government on the pretext that the movie was a co-production with Argentina. In the movie only local people were extras, which doesn't explain the inversion.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Initial plans for a third film titled Highlander III: The Reckoning, would have detached the story even further from the original film. It would have taken place entirely on Zeist, and would have involved Connor training a rebel army to overthrow the rulers of the planet. However, the post-production editing of Highlander II, which changed that films ending, plus the poor box-office performance nixed the idea.
In the LaserDisc Edition, there is a documentary where director and producers blame the failure on bad Argentinian ethical labor and they remove the concept of planet Zeist, although this concept appears in the first screenplay.
The filming in Buenos Aires attracted all kinds of corrupt politicians and celebrities wanting to get close to Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert. The two met, and did some photos with the Argentina's President at this time, Carlos Saúl Menem, who makes a brief cameo in the movie.
Acording to the documentary 'Highlander 2': Seduced by Argentina (2004), the failure of the movie was partially a result of the interference of the company Interstar, in the job of the director and the producers, and also by Argentina's economic troubles.
An enormous set was built to resemble a futuristic street, using the E line of the subway and the old market place Abasto (before plans to turn it into shops and after using it as market). Russell Mulcahy too filmed in the Valley of the Moon and The Andes' mountain range.
The rental of the filming studio in Buenos Aires had a cost of 300,000 dollars, a price marked previously with an organization of the Argentinian state but in a dirty and turbulent movement (the producers were told that they exceeded the budget; it's unknown if they were implied on purpose) the final amount was ten million dollars. The Argentina Central Bank did a loan of the money in exchange to recover it with the benefits of the movie. As the movie was a failure the money wasn't recovered.