This might seem longwinded, but here goes, after reading some of the hotly negative views of this flick, I figure I have to give it credit where it's due.
In the grand scheme of Highlander movies (fans must realize by now that they have a tendency to get shafted at the theatre and rewarded via video). While the first Highlander was pretty good, much footage was left out of the US theatrical release, leaving some scenes confusing. The best experience for the first film, arguably the DVD release changes that although it is of fairly bad quality and the "stills" section is messed up (due to poor authoring, as it appears to be merely converted over to from the LD version without any tweaking, so it flies by, thus requiring a person to use the "frame by frame" feature while paused).
Highlander 2 is no exception to the theatre=bad video=good rule. While the original idea of the first movie was carried over in this sequel "The Quickening" with a new idea by the original creators of Highlander (and they have the right to create their own stories of characters they invented, IMHO) that the Immortals (with fans begging to know of their "true" origins) that the Immies are all outcasts and refugees from another time and another place, ie: they are aliens from the planet Zeist.
Zeist is a planet apparently somewhat like earth, with a mix of futuristic and ancient technology (ie: machine guns, laser pistols alongside broadswords and battle armor), that is undergoing a power struggle between the Priestly rulers and the warlord General Katana. There is a rebel force trying to overthrow Katana's position, lead by Ramirez and Macleod. All of this supposedly takes place "500 years ago" (which is irrelevant time distinction since it takes place in another galaxy). Ramirez and Macleod are "sent back" as punishment for their crimes, and when they appear on earth (reborn in different time periods in earth's history) they become immortal. This explains their quest "that there can be only one." I think this idea was nice, had it been developed further, and I would have loved to see stories about how the other immortals got sent back (like Kurgan for example, the villian from the original film).
However, to make a long story short, most fans of the HL mythos apparently hated this 1990 film and demanded that the "original story be followed" (ie: the creators pretend that nobody knew the history of the Immortals and that they were simply "born different" than other humans). Although I think the creators of the HL story (the same guys who made the first movie) were justified in making what they called "The Renegade Version" (actually there are three versions of the film, the one on video ends immediately after the shield is destroyed, another features an ending where Macleod and his new love interest leave for Zeist together in a celestial moment), as they had gone over budget and had their movie edited short by the insurance agents (or whomever).
However, the whole point of muting or editing out various lines from the film that referred to Zeist, I see as unnecessary pandering to the fans. But, the creators were obviously wanting to salvage their rep with the fanbase and recoup their losses in video sales (the DVD is of excellent quality this time, although it still features the same stills flipping too fast problem the first disc had). So I guess they did what they had to. I would have liked to have seen more of the original storyscenes featured on the new DVD (Renegade) as deleted scenes or something, or even had a branching version. The DVD disc features a "making of" documentary which basically defends the creators and gives their explanation and their concession to make a "revamped" version.
As a movie in and of itself, Renegade Highlander 2 is pretty good. While the action scenes tend to be less exciting (for me anyway) than the first film (mainly because there seems to be less actual sword fighting and more horsing around with other weapons and situations), is is watchable and enjoyable. To a non-highlander fan it can be just as interesting of a sci-fiaction film as well.
IMHO, this film is the second only to the first film (at least the Renegade version on DVD). It is better than Highlander 3, which apparently tried in vain to imitate the first movie but with cheaper jokes and bigger budget effects (still, nothing beats the final scenes in the first film just after the final battle). The recent "Endgame" was a major disapointment and how it can be claimed that it was better than 2 is beyond me. I would attribute part of Endgame's appeal to the huge Series fan base that has grown since 1992 (when the TV series began, remarkably the opening of the first season included scenes from Highlander 2, just watch... looks familiar, no?).
Not a bad film, I suggest fans and non-fans alike give a good honest viewing of the Renegade version and see if I'm wrong. If you want to see it in context of the first film, fine, I think either way, it gels quite nicely with the original continuity-wise (which is more than I can say for the other sequels and even the series).
Review by kurgan-10 from the Internet Movie Database.