MK1 Not Flawless MK2 Brutal(ity),
This review is from: Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Based on the wildly popular video game series, MK & MK Annihilation graced our theatres in 1995 & 1997. So how do they stand up today?
First off, these movies will make absolutely no sense to anyone who is not an advocate of the games, so I strongly recommend ignoring them unless you are at least, a MK novice.
As MK1 kicks off, the Elder Gods have arranged an inter-dimensional martial arts tournament known as 'Mortal Kombat' & warriors from the 'Outworld' have won the previous 9 tournaments. Should they win 10 in a row under the watchful eye of soul-pilfering Shang Tsung (Cary Tagawa), the portals between Earth & the Outworld will open & the warriors under control of Emperor Shao Kahn will be able to invade Earth. (What this means precisely is what this writer believes to be unintentionally ambiguous - what, that means all these unholy warrior freaks are going jump through a vortex & karate kick our arses every day for fun?)
Anyhoo, suffice it to say it would be bad news for us mere mortals on Earth so Thunder God Raiden (ably played by Christopher Lambert) who is also our protector hand picks a number of Earth's warriors to take the Outworlders on. We're introduced to Liu Kang (Robert Shou) who is seeking revenge for the death of his brother at the hands of Shang Tsung, Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson) who is seeking revenge for the death of her partner at the hands of Kano (So much vengeance! Where is the love?) & the egotistical Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby), a movie star who feels he is a fraud & wants to prove himself, all sail to a mysterious island where the tournament will take place. There, they team up with the feisty Princess Kitana (Ah, there's the love...) who will help guide them on their quest.
Directed by Paul Anderson, famed for game-to-movie adaptations (and reviled by most critics for it), Mortal Kombat is a decent popcorn-munching flick, with good visuals, impressive special effects and action sequences galore. The characters are faithful to the games (with the possible exception of a slobbering Kano) while the massive Goro is an impressive, if unattractive sight. Sub Zero is icy in every way, the fight between Scorpion and Johnny Cage is a cracker & the script balances out to a decent showdown between Kang & Tsung. All in all, a decent adaptation of the first 2 games in the series.
As for the sequel Mortal Kombat Annihilation, well, there's no other way to say it, it is DIABOLICAL. Right from the very start of the opening credits where 'MORTAL KOMBAAAAAAAAATTTTT!!!' is roared at us backed up by a frenetic, almost immature rave score, there's every reason for pessimism & every justification for it soon follows.
Largely based on the Mortal Kombat 3 game, the film disregards the victory of the Earth warriors from the first movie as Shao Kahn (Brian Thompson) enters the Earth realm with his freakish minions including Motaro, Sheeva, Sindel amongst others to announce he is enslaving Earth within 6 days (presumably in direct contrast to God) and Earth's warriors must fight to prevent that. That's pretty much the only existing plot line (if you can call it that) in the movie.
Cue random fight after fight after fight with no coherency & so many characters are badly let down by the non-existence of a script. Despite the notable handicap of being dead from the first movie, Scorpion shows up with no explanation at all, Sheeva dies without even throwing a punch, Mileena pops out of nowhere for seemingly no other reason than to have a mud wrestle with Sonya, Baraka looks like something borrowed from the Muppet Show & so much is made of Jax's cybernetic arms but he never really uses them and that only covers about half the characters!
Outside of all that, the CGI in the movie is of unbelievably poor quality, the dialogue stinks & pretty much the entire cast from the first movie is replaced with the exception of Kang & Kitana, probably because the original cast knew what a career-killing pile of crap this movie was destined to be.
It's comical that the DVD sleeve on Annihilation suggests that we 'Destroy All Expectations' because that's EXACTLY what this movie does.
Go 3 Stars for MK1 & don't even consider the fatality that is the second.