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Video Game Double Feature#2 – Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat Annhilation.


The 2nd Double Feature is over now and once again I will address both films as a viewer.

The first Mortal Kombat movie unlike other Video Game movies managed to bring about the source material and the movie into an impressive mix for its time.  The powers are there, the archetypes are there, and the characterizations within the script are brilliant.  Nothing feels out of place as the main three combatants come together in order to battle for the fate of Earth-realm against the evil Shang Tsung and by extension Shao Kahn, Emperor of Outworld.

Now date back to a time when Mortal Kombat was relatively new and the mythos were still being written and there were only two Mortal Kombat games to be concerned about.  The film appropriately mixes both games well while keeping the setting and basis of the first one with the Mortal Kombat tournament while bringing in some elements of Mortal Kombat II such as Kitana’s inclusion, and her role as a secondary mentor and aid to Liu Kang.    The first film follows the writer’s journey and matches the 15 beats of save the cat incredibly with each main point flowing from scene to scene and all three main characters do experience the change that is much needed for characters in order to progress.

I think that Sonya’s fight was a little too short for the movie though but in the early days she was all about going after Kano and that subplot was already running its course after the first couple of scenes so…maybe it is justified.   I did love how all references to the games seem to point out to you as long as you pay attention and the music keeps the action pumping along with plenty of funny jokes in between.

Johnny Cage’s Friendship in the Scorpion Fight was clever, and Liu Kang using all of his special abilities in the Outworld scenes was a good way to keep the suspense of disbelief…a stark difference from Street Fighter’s Production.  The appearance of the powers, Reptile’s true form and Scorpion’s spear may look a bit cartoony by today’s standards but if you remember how things were in 1995, you’d understand that they are a sign of post-production’s advancement over the years.

Now is the movie watchable?

A great story, incredible action, awesome sequences, and killer music makes this one of those rare successful video games, most definitely this is a watch.   It actually tests the opinion  of  “All video game movies are bad.”

Now considering how successful the first movie was, and the fact that the games still had strong momentum. A follow-up had to come along and it was called Mortal Kombat Annihilation.

Now in between the release of the first movie and going into the production of the 2nd movie there were at least two more games in the franchise, Mortal Kombat 3, and Mortal Kombat 4.

New characters were made and storylines established so this 2nd movie had a lot of mixing and mashing to do in order to try to make a compelling story to build up from the first one’s high note.

Despite its ambition, the movie mashed a little too much more than it mixed, some of the characters while making appearances didn’t have that much of an impact.   Others were killed off prematurely and plenty of the main characters seemed to suffer from Aesop Amnesia which is a trope showing that the main character forgotten all that he/she learned the last time around.

Now due to previous engagement with other films and by some not liking the script (The original Johnny Cage actor).   Some new faces took over established roles, and I commend Sandra Hess for her performance even though I liked Bridgette Nelson-Sampras in the first one.   She did hold Sonya’s character and mold it into her own.

I did not care for Jax’s acting, he just came off as all talk and no show,  it did work for the movie how it said that he didn’t need the cybernetic arms but  I just didn’t relate to him.

The new Raiden wasn’t as wisecracking as Christopher Lambert’s portrayal but he could fight and he had the tone of a more stoic version.   So I’m alright with him but boy did they give his character some bum steers in this movie.

Liu Kang had his confidence and faced his three trials while fighting Tsung in Outworld last time to keep the gates closed right?   Well this time around he apparently has a harder time facing his destiny, losing Kitana to Scorpion, and is in capable of battling Shao Kahn.

I can understand that the stakes have gotten higher and as they should but throughout the course of the film, he really should remember what he went through and use that to push him further.  However things are a bit different in the sequel and this movie proved it.

Shao Kahn is one of the best villains in video game history, right and in the last movie he made a startling appearance at the end of the movie being all green and letting the mortals know it’s his turn now.

In this movie however despite Brian Thompson’s spot on voice portrayal the character was more or less like a lackey or a favorite son trying so hard to appease an impossible father.    Shao Kahn is the emperor of Outworld and the villain from the last movie was the servant of his, the direction of Kahn’s character was a bit of a far cry, and not too mention that we never even knew what his face looked like until the comics and even then it was obscured.

Liu Kang and Shao Khan weren’t even on the same parallel with each other that some people like to see between main antagonist and protagonist, the grudge match seemed to be more between Raiden and Kahn…but as Liu Kang being Raiden’s disciple I guess it works by Proxy but that’s a stretch.

The movie took lines of its own by showing Kahn’s face which considering this is live action, oh well but you can make him look a bit more demonic, and downplaying him to play second fiddle to a Darth Sidious knock-off which turned out to be the villain from Mortal Kombat 4, Shinnok.

The film created a non-canon Sibling-Rivalry with Raiden who turned out to be the Son of Shinnok and brother of Kahn.

This is not the interpretation I was looking for when I saw the build-up of Shao Kahn in the first movie.  It makes you think that the writing and rewriting was taking place during the production phase.

The music really wasn’t pumping like the last one was, and that’s the tone of the detail right there.

Some positives are in this movie regardless it followed the Mortal Kombat 3 storyline accurately where Shao Kahn did invade Earth Realm, revived Queen Sindel for evil purposes and attempted to merge the realms.    Mortal Kombat 4 was well in the arcades and they tried to mix some of those references in there but the problem is…too many characters and not enough plot/story/direction to go around.

Now is the movie watchable?

Yes it is, it deserves one watch because you really want to see what happens next regarding the Kombatants’ next adventure and while it doesn’t hold a candle to the first one.   You should check it out to see that without a strong story to support these characters and give them directions that they deserve, a movie could become a mess especially if it is a two-hour feature.

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