Mortal Kombat Duology Review

mortal_kombat_2_fatalityMortal Kombat was and is a kick ass video game, especially in the 90s. I, like millions of other young guys, loved the release that an hour of ripping out spines and shattering the bodies of guys I just froze, all backed by middling techno music (which in all honesty was often drowned out by the constant trash talking of the controller wielding kombatants).

The games had numerous playable characters, all with back stories and special skills that were more useful against certain opponents than others. The action took place over many intricately designed worlds, and as you progressed through them the enemies became progressively harder and more dangerous.

And of course if you didn’t touch your controller for a few seconds your characters swayed back and forth like two tipsy dancers awaiting their cue.

I always wondered just who gave a shit about the backstories and origins of each character. I sure didn’t and I never caught any of the guys that I played against frantically googling ‘baraka origins’ in between games.

I always thought that the game creators wasted their time in establishing alliances and such for the characters. Then in 1995 it as announced that a movie was to be released that gave us all the FULL STORY behind Mortal Kombat.

Turns out the filmmakers put about as much thought into this as I did…

mortalkombatMortal Kombat

Well alright! Who’s ready for some bad acting, bad scripting, bad action and above all bad techno?

No-one? Too bad it’s here!

And… Fight.

Every so often a tournament is held to decide the fate of the universe. Fighters of all disciplines from all over the world and beyond are invited to battle in pointless fashion.

Some are invited in person, some are more or less kidnapped against their will and ordered to participate. I especially liked the telegram that Liu Kang received: “Brother dead. Return home. Grandma.”

The divisions between good and bad are pretty obvious and to be frank clumsily executed. The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad, as are the jokes and poorly staged fights.

The leaders of this crappy pick-up game with global implications are wise magician Raiden (Christopher Lambert, the man who keeps Jean-Claude Van Damme as the second worst actor to ever come from France) and Shang Tsung, the evil ruler of Outworld.

There are numerous baddies and goodies, with the only goodies that matter being the aforementioned Liu Kang, movie action hero Johnny Cage and soldier Sonja Blade, whose eyebrows are styled in such a way that she looks like a perpetually confused Britney Spears – which I guess makes her just like Britney Spears.

The only baddie of note is Goro, an eight foot tall, four armed behemoth who is clumsily animated (what in the Wide World of Sports is up with the shitty CGI in this film?) and freakish enough to swim for China at the next Olympics. Shang Tsung gleefully tells the human trio that the tournament of good (human) vs evil (other?) is a best of ten series, which the bad guys lead 9-0… Ouch.

(Can’t we humans muster up at least one decent fighter? What if we coke up Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes, give ’em each a car and unleash them on Outworld?)

No such inspiration and effort here. A few pointless early bouts try in vain to capture the spirit of the video game by replicating some of the signatures moves with little to zero success, all on sets looking like they are leftover from The Golden Child and The Goonies.

Lets just say that where the fight scenes are concerned, Mortal Kombat the video game has nothing to fear from the awful movie version. I’d much rather sit behind someone playing the game than be forced to watch these crappily executed exercises in tedium.

With both ‘leaders’ awful, 2 of the 3 lead humans obviously incapable of faking a decent fight, and Goro an alien Shaquille O’Neal in a human world of Nate Robinsons, all that is left is to see how the filmmakers might justify a human victory.

But I won’t spoil that here. I’ll let the film spoil that, and every memory of what Mortal Kombat once represented to you.

And as for the actors, well they obviously couldn’t find any.

Final Rating – 4.5 / 10. I can’t believe that there are online petitions to block a reboot which would put the Mortal Kombat universe in a more real world setting. I mean you people realise that this is the alternative right?

MK aMortal Kombat: Annihilation

With Mortal Kombat such a rousing success in all levels, it was inevitable that a sequel would emerge hot on its heels.

Hey remember all those terrible actors that made the first film so noteworthy? Me neither, but it speaks volumes that this most awful of franchises couldn’t even manage to retain half of the cast only a couple years later.

A lot has changed since we left the world of Mortal Kombat… No, wait. It’s exactly the same.

The Deep Heat hasn’t even had time to be absorbed into the aching muscles of the kombatants before the even more evil (eviler?) Shao Khan shows up with an entirely new troupe of guys n gals wearing leftover Halloween costumes. He again tells of a loophole that allows him to run an illegal tournament, and if the humans cannot stop him within a mere 6 days then Earth becomes just another suburb of Outworld.

The new bunch of monsters and aliens are a disagreeable bunch, though none of them really get too much chance to exhibit their wares or have their much coveted backstories developed. they are merely bystanders who occasionally get called upon for regrettable and even less entertaining fight sequences. A Scorpion vs Sub-Zero fight – which I would think would be some form of nerd-Viagra – was far more comical than classy, and clearly more evidence that the CGI budget was no bigger this time around.

The fighting too has not improved at all, nor are the fighters, which makes it all look like so many razor ad models and Zumba instructors performing lazily choreographed moves in stilted fashion. The ‘new’ Raiden, James Remar, has the busiest fight double in history, and the worst agent. I mean taking roles Christopher Lambert turns down?

Once again Liu Kang is up to his mullet in bad guys and clumsy mythology, with ‘new’ Sonja Blade and ‘new’ Johnny Cage replacing the two old charisma free versions from the first film.

At one point near the merciful conclusion of the film some bonehead says “Hey leftovers are fine with me”… So sayeth the entire cast.

For some reason there is a lengthy sequence where Liu Kang must venture to the desert to find Night Wolf who introduces him to his ‘animality’. Need I even point out that the concept of animality was to justify different killing sequences in the game series? Now I am all for new and exciting reasons for video game violence, but here it is just stupid.

Maybe MK 3 can bring in the ‘babality’ hook to complete the cycle?

Final Rating – 3.5 / 10. The rest is simply more evidence that there was no need for someone to shout “Finish him!” over this mindlessly swaying franchise, this was already long since dead.

Duology Rating – 4 / 10. It’s fair to say that at my age I could care less about the video games or the film franchise – such as it was. But my basic sense of decency demands that if they decide to do something with this mythology, either reboots, remakes or whatevs, at least show your fans some respect and do it right.

The video game industry actually makes more money annually than the movie industry, it just doesn’t have the pretty faces to grace the magazine covers and front up to at to the Conans, Jays and Jimmys. But this shouldn’t mean that the poor acne scarred punters who sit in beanbags for months on end developing saddle sores and RSI wracked thumbs don’t deserve better than this tripe.

If video games make so much money, surely they can afford to sink some of these fat profits into ensuring that films like these don’t keep giving their entire industry – and the young people that line their pockets – such a bad name?

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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