The latest home video offering from Warner Bros. Animation doesn’t come from the heroic world of DC Comics, but from the blood-soaked and ultra-violent realm of Mortal Kombat.
Based on the popular video game that sparked controversy in the early 1990s for its gruesome portrayal of violence, MK Legends adapts the franchise’s most prominent storyline.
After the slaughter of his family by the cold assassin Sub Zero, Hanzo Hasashi is exiled to the Netherrealm. There, in a soul-altering exchange, Hanzo is given a second chance to avenge his family and is resurrected as Scorpion. The closest that fans have come to watching these events unfold occurred in the Mortal Kombat 9 video game with beautiful still imagery.
This time, we see it all in bloody, animated fashion.
Oh, and I do mean bloody.
Legends pulled absolutely no punches when it came to MK’s trademark ferocity. There are several Easter eggs throughout the film where characters use their in-game fatalities. Organs and limbs are brutally crushed, heads are decapitated, and, yes, even the infamous pit stage makes an appearance.
While the title of the film might have people believe they’re getting an 80-minute feature about MK‘s most popular character, that is not the case. The narrative splits between Scorpion’s trials and tribulations and the first Mortal Kombat tournament highlighted in the inaugural video game. It’s a tale as old as time for any MK fan, but here’s a quick recap: Lord Raiden recruits Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, and Liu Kang to defeat Shang Tsung and prevent Outworld from taking over Earthrealm.
Scorpion’s journey eventually converges with the tournament. However, much of the film goes back and forth between events as if we’re seeing two separate movies. It’s jarring because just as you get used to one story, the other kicks in. In many ways, you can’t tell Scorpion’s account without the tournament. While they were individually pleasing, the two never felt cohesive in their narrative presentation.
Speaking of the tournament, it came off more like a highly contrived professional wrestling event where the rules were more akin to loosely agreed upon guidelines that could change on a whim. A tournament overseen by the often-mentioned Elder Gods shouldn’t have so many loopholes. I get it, though. Some things need to be sacrificed for the sake of the story.
Sonya, Raiden, and Liu Kang are used serviceably, Scorpion lives up to his reputation as a hellish badass, but Johnny Cage steals the show, which is dripping with irony. The movie switches up Cage’s origin a bit, making for a highly entertaining twist. In the videogame, Cage is an egotistical actor who believes winning the tournament will bring his career back to prominence. Here, Cage is still egotistical but thinks the competition is just another movie and is in awe of the gory special effects, until he realizes their bone-crushing authenticity. It was hilarious to watch while trying to figure out if Johnny Cage can actually fight.
Diehard MK fans will appreciate that the film largely adheres to the source material. There is even a “toasty” reference! No one will argue that Mortal Kombat‘s plot has always been rather thin. After all, who cares about the story? It’s all about the blood and guts. There is a lot of mayhem to go around, but it’s done in a riveting manner. Some of the fatalities had me double checking my limbs while Sonya kicking Johnny Cage below the belt had me wincing every time.
Overall, this movie is a fun outing that gives the audience exactly what it expects from its notorious namesake. The violence-fueled martial arts action, and colorful language puts this feature high on the parental advisory list. Unfortunately, not seeing more from Scorpion’s perspective, prevents the maiden voyage of Mortal Kombat Legends from achieving a flawless victory.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpions Revenge is now available on Digital,
4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD