October Film Fright Fest: Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat: Annhiliation

by – “Tiger” Oliver

There are some movies that are scary, then there are movies that are bad. Then, there are movies that are so bad, they’re scary.

Then, there are the odd couple of video game movies: 1995’s box office epic win Mortal Kombat and 1997’s failtacular Mortal Kombat: Annhiliation

 

Mortal Kombat, despite the dark ominous cloud hanging over this entire post, was an amazing movie with great critical reviews and an impressive box office reception. I dare say that this is THE greatest video game movie of all time due to the fact that it follows the storyline of the video games so closely, even if there are some minor discrepancies.

Our story begins with Liu Kang (Robin Shou – Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li & Beverly Hills Ninja) having a nightmare about his brother fighting & dying at the hands of Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa – Pearl Harbor,Balls of Fury & Memoirs of a Geisha). He returns back to China to the Temple of the Order of Light to meet with his grandfather about his brother. The god of thunder, Raiden (Christopher Lambert, Connor MacLeod from The Highlander) arrives at the temple to aid Liu Kang, who runs off to find Shang Tsung at the Mortal Kombat tournament.

Meanwhile, action film star Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby – Resident Evil: Extinction) is in L.A. shooting his next movie. His reputation and ego are being thrashed by the tabloids, so he has a major chip on his shoulder. After getting on the crew’s case, he comes across (whom I’m taking as) his agent, who informs him of the Mortal Kombat tournament. Turns out, his “agent” was really Shang Tsung. Cage and Kang meet up at the docks to board the ship to the tournament.

Enter Sonya Blade, who is chasing down an underworld scumbag by the name of Kano, who murdered her former partner. Kano is employed by Shang Tsung to lead Sonya aboard one of the ships to get her to the tournament, which Kano is successful at.

This is where the bulk of the movie is made clear, which I will explain to those who aren’t familiar with the Mortal Kombat mythology. Simply put, to prevent one realm from overtaking another, the Elder Gods instilled Mortal Kombat, a once-a-generation tournament that pits the best fighters from both realms against each other for the fate of both realms. If the defending realm (in this case, Earthrealm) loses ten straight tournaments, the invading realm (in this case, Outworld) is allowed to invade and do with the defeated realm as it sees fit. As of the movie and game, Earthrealm has lost nine, this is the 10th.

That being said, our fighters take on the best at the tournament. Liu Kang takes out Sub-Zero and some Jamaican guy, even meeting up with the princess of Outworld, Kitana (Talisa Soto – model, 1995 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) whom assists him in his vitory over Sub-Zero. Sonya Blade ends up fighting Kano, snapping his neck after asking her to “…give (him) a break!”. Johnny Cage fights and kills Scorpion (voiced by Ed Boon, himself).

Cage meets up with Shang Tsung later on, making a deal with the sorcerer. If Cage can fight Prince Goro, the reigning Mortal Kombat champion, Tsung can choose anyone he wishes to fight in final kombat in any place he wants. The deal is set, Cage kills Goro and Shang Tsung kidnaps Sonya Blade to Outworld. Kang and Cage give chase with Raiden, whom has no powers in the wasteland. While there, Kang gets jumped by Reptile, but disposes of the ninja with no problem.

Kitana leads them to the palace, where Shang Tsung is trying to get Sonya to accept his challenge to final kombat, or else Earthrealm will forfeit the 10th tournament. Our heroic trio enters, eventually leading the way towards final kombat between Liu Kang and Shang Tsung.

Kang has to face three challenges, the first is “Face Your Enemy”. Shang Tsung calls forth the enslaved souls of a number of elite warriors he has slain to attack Kang, but they all fall. The second test is “Face Yourself”, in which Shang Tsung tries to psych out Kang by telling him he’ll fail because he could see into his soul. Kang pushes through and goes on to his third test, “Face Your Worst Fear”. Tsung transforms into Liu’s dead brother, saying he forgives Liu for his death. Liu pushes him away, realizing that every man is responsible for his own choices, that he wasn’t in control of his brother’s. During that, spikes raise on the ground below them.

They fight one more time, but Tsung gets knocked into the spikes by Kang’s fireball. The enslaved souls are released, Liu Kang has saved Earthrealm, and they return to the Temple of Light to live happily ever after… until Shao Kahn, the emperor of Outworld, shows up and starts invading Earthrealm anyways. End movie.

While this movie follows the chain of events in the original Mortal Kombat game very heavily, there are some discrepancies. First off, Outworld doesn’t come into the storyline until Mortal Kombat II. Secondly, Shang Tsung was very old in the video game (even though they kept him young because of the extensive makeup it would’ve taken to make Tagawa look much older), whereas Kitana and Jax (Sonya’s partner early in the movie) aren’t even in the storyline until MK II.

They started on a sequel some time later, and we were left wondering, “How could they screw up a sequel to one of the best movies in ’95?”

Enter MK:Annhiliation

The three big things you notice about this movie come right off the bat. The first thing is that the special effects are more computer generated… which makes them worse. Second, our Highlander god Raiden has been replaced by James Remar (The Warriors, TV’s Dexter), Sonya Blade is now portrayed by Sandra Hess (Encino Man) and Johnny Cage is now played by Chris Conrad (The Next Karate Kid.

Thirdly, and most importantly, you learn within the first five minutes that this movie has horrible cinematography and a completely lack of a plot despite being based off of Mortal Kombat III

MK:A picks back up right after the first movie ended. Shao Kahn (Brian Thompson – Buffalo Bob from Joe Dirt) has invaded Earthrealm with his extermination squads led by centaurian Motaro (Deron McBee – Malibu from the original American Gladiators), Sheeva (Marjean Holden – TV’s BeastMaster), Ermac (John Medlen, stunt coordinator for TV’s Secret Girlfriend and Lost) and Queen Sindel (Musetta Vander, a siren in O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Kitana’s mother.

Raiden fights Shao Kahn, whom then holds Sonya hostage before killing Johnny Cage. The heroes pull back and hide underground.

Wait, so why did Kahn invade, though Liu Kang saved Earth for another generation? Well, Shao Kahn was smart and decided to resurrect Sindel in Earthrealm, that way he could enter the realm without having to deal with Mortal Kombat. This is a legal gray area to the Elder Gods, and they can not intervene.

Anywho, Sonya meets up with Jax (Lynn “Red” Williams, Sabre from the original American Gladiators), whom kills Cyrax with the help of his cybernetically enhanced arms. This leads Kahn to chase the two to the Elder God’s temple. On the way, Mileena (Dana Hee, who was Talisa Soto’s stunt double) jumps Sonya in one of the two best fight scenes in the movie (partially due to the addition of mud).

Meanwhile, Kang and Kitana are jumped by Smoke, who is killed by Sub-Zero, the younger brother of… Sub-Zero, the original one. He then fights Scorpion (once again voiced by Ed Boon), whom then kidnaps Kitana. Kang goes off in search of Nightwolf (Gary Paul Davis aka Litefoot – The Indian in the Cupboard), in hopes to get help for his upcoming fight with Kahn. Without unleashing his Animality, Nightwolf pretty much says he won’t get far. There are another three tests Kang must pass to be able to defeat Shao Kahn. So he knocks Kang out, who has a nightmare about Kitana and Shao Kahn telling him he has and will fail. He wakes up only to be jumped by Jade (Irina Pantaeva, a Buryatan model) later on.

Wait, what’s the third test?! Animality, defeating Jade, what’s the third one? Deciding to be a goody-two-shoes and not accepting Jade’s advances when he’s Kitana’s man-toy?! C’mon, what is it?

Anywho, they meet up with Sonya, Jax, and Raiden at the temple. Raiden looks remarkably different, thanks to him turning mortal so he could watch over the earth fighters on their quest and fight along side them. With the last of his powers, he allows them passage into Outworld, where Earthream has started to merge, along with Kitana’s home of Edenia.

They go on the hunt for Sindel while Liu Kang saves Kitana, who is being held in Shao Kahn’s palace, after defeating Baraka and Sheeva. Meanwhile, Raiden’s group finds Sindel and a trio of Reptile clones, whome Raiden takes on and eventually kills in the best fight scene in the movie. Jax and Jade show up with Sindel, defeated, with Jade taking the credit. Raiden looks at her with suspicion at the end of the scene.

Liu returns with Kitana and they try to ease Sindel’s soul with the hope that it’ll stop Kahn’s invasion of Earthrealm. They fail, with Sindel and Jade escaping. Shao Kahn chastises Sindel for not defeating the group while feeding Jade to a dragon-like monster that transforms from a gargoyle on the wall.

Meanwhile, Jax sees a dragon tattoo that fled Mileena and Cyrax when they were defeated. Raiden explains how his father, Shinnok (Reiner Schöne), was an Elder god who could grant the tattoo temporarily, which allows the bearer and his/her passengers safe passage between realms. Shao Kahn and he have permanent tattoos, which explains a bombshell:

Shao Kahn and Raiden are brothers, with Shinnok as their father.

Shinnok, looking for an heir to his Elder God status, stated his successor must be strong enough to kill his brother. Raiden could have easily defeated Kahn, but chose not to, instead choosing to value life instead of taking it. With his powers gone, only Liu Kang can defeat Kahn.

Thus comes the finale. Liu Kang, Sonya, Jax and Kitana find Shao Kahn, Shinnok, Ermac, Motaro and Sindel at Kahn’s new temple: the newly merged Temple of the Order of Light. Raiden shows up to plead to his father to stop this madness, but eventually gets killed by Shao Kahn. With this, the heroes plunge into battle.

Jax takes on Motaro, whom rips off one of his cybernetic arms. Meanwhile, Sonya takes on Ermac, whom makes a clone of himself (that looks strangely like Noob Saibot), and they beat Sonya down. She cries for help, which fires Jax up to take off his other cybernetic arm and lay the smackdown on his CGI-altered fellow American Gladiator. Jax then helps Sonya, whom defeats the real Ermac in similar fashion as she did with Kano: a hurricanrana followed by snapping his neck with a leg lock. While that’s happening, Kitana and Sindel fight with Kitana defeating Sindel and forcing her to watch Liu Kang and Shao Kahn fight.

Speaking of which, Shao Kahn gets the best of Liu Kang, until he releases his Animality, a huge dragon. Shao Kahn says “Impressive, you came prepared! But, not good enough!” before transforming into a hydra-like monster. They both fall off the high platform and detransform.

Shao Kahn realizes he’s bleeding and questions his father why his immortality has faded. Shinnok says he warned him of the consequences and prepares to attack Liu Kang himself, but is stopped by the Elder Gods of Fire and Water, whom proclaim that the fate of the realms shall once again be defended in Mortal Kombat.

Liu Kang and Shao Kahn fight one last time, with Kang winning after (somehow) killing Kahn with a backflip kick to the face. Kahn’s dragon tattoo escapes uponhis defeat, splitting his body open like a splayed pig. Shinnok is folded up like a piece of paper and is sent away, probably to Hell or the Netherealm.

Earthrealm (and Probably Edenia, although it’s not revealed) is restored, with a huge celebration at the Temple of the Order of Light. Raiden is resurrected by the Elder Gods and granted the status his father once held. Sindel’s soul is also resurrected, this time uncorrupted. Liu Kang and Kitana FINALLY kiss, and the crew walks away from the Temple in arms.

Now, there are a few discrepancies in this movie, as well. First, Shinnok, Shao Kahn and Raiden aren’t related. Shinnok isn’t even revealed until Mortal Kombat 4/Mortal Kombat Gold and Jade is actually on the side of good. Besides all that, the only other complaints that I can make (besides the horrible acting, the crappy dialogue by Buffalo Bob, the abysmal fight scenes and special effects, the horribly weak storyline and the appalling cinematography and pace of the movie from beginning to end) is the fact that Christopher Lambert and Linden Ashby weren’t in this movie.

Mortal Kombat: Annhiliation received only a measly 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, while only grabbing an 11/100 on Metacritic. In other words:

Now, there has been a third movie, Mortal Kombat: Devastation,in the works since 1997, but was mired by setbacks, Hurricane Katrina and even the suing of Midway after they went bankrupt. However, Linden Ashby and Chris Casamassa (who played Scorpion) said that they have read the script and will return in the movie. Besides that, nothing new has been released besides an apparent 2010 release date, according to IMBD.

So, while the first movie was an epic win, Annhiliation is by far the worst video game movie, second only to Super Mario Brothers saved only by the fact that it actually (somewhat) followed the Mortal Kombat 3 storyline.

Honestly, if you’re looking for something as scary as Jason Vorhee’s breathing before he pwns his victims, Mortal Kombat: Annhiliation is well worth a watch, if you can go more than five minutes without raging. However, Mortal Kombat is a definite pickup for anyone’s movie collection.

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One Response to “October Film Fright Fest: Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat: Annhiliation”

  1. Way to embrace memes that the rest of the world was sick of six months ago.


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