We were mostly fans of the new live-action Mortal Kombat movie that arrived earlier this year but if that didn’t quite give you the MK experience you were looking for, maybe the next animated chapter will. Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is the sequel to the excellent Scorpion’s Revenge that finds Earthrealm under siege by the forces of Shao Khan. As the Earthrealm warriors hold off his forces, Shao Khan proposes an offer, one final Mortal Kombat tournament that would decide the fate of every realm. Raiden and the Earth warriors agree and the final tournament is on. Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Jax and Stryker are among the Earthrealm heroes while Shang Tsung, Jade, D’Vorah, and Kintaro are some of the fighters representing Outworld. Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s bitter rivalry continues as well, as Sub-Zero’s brother Kuai Liang seeks vengeance for the death of his brother. Pretty much all the voice cast returns for this new movie, including Joel McHale as Johnny Cage and Jennifer Carpenter as Sonya Blade with animation veterans like Fred Tatasciore, Matt Mercer, Grey Griffin, and Robin Atkin Downes. The movie is out on August 31st and you can check out the Green Band trailer below and click through on the Red Band trailer to see it on YouTube.
As the latest iteration of Mortal Kombat arrives this weekend in theaters and on HBO Max, you can check out one of the more forgotten adaptations of the iconic game series with Mortal Kombat: Conquest. Hitting in the late 90s in syndication and later becoming a TNT series to close out its one and only season, Conquest was a prequel to the franchise, taking place before the first game and following the original Kung Lao, played by Paolo Montalban, shortly after he defeated Shang Tsung in one of the earlier Mortal Kombat tournaments. Kung Lao looks to train a new generation of fighters for the upcoming tournaments, including a bodyguard named Siro (Daniel Bernhardt) and a thief named Taja (Kristanna Loken) and they are guided by Lord Raiden (Jeffrey Meek) as they train and defend Earthrealm from various threats. Given the prequel nature of the show, a lot of the game characters don’t exist yet, at least on the Earthrealm side of things, but Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Quan Chi, Shao Khan, Shang Tsung, Kitana, Mileena, Noob Saibot, Reiko, Reptile and Rain did appear at some point in the series. Chris Casamassa, who played Scorpion, who played Scorpion in the original Mortal Kombat movie reprised his role on Conquest and JJ Perry, who played Sub-Zero on Conquest, was Scorpion, Cyrax, and Noob Saibot in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. The show also had some notable recurring roles with the likes of Eva Mendes, Jaime Pressly, Angelica Bridges, Fabiana Udenio, Kathleen Kinmont, and WCW wrestlers Meng and Wrath, as Conquest followed WCW Monday Nitro when it came to TNT. You can check out the first episode of the series below.
Arriving in theaters and on HBO Max, Mortal Kombat makes its return to live-action just shy of 25 years since Mortal Kombat: Annihilation with an R-rated reboot. Lewis Tan stars as new character Cole Young, who is recruited by Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) and Jackson “Jax” Briggs (Mehcad Brooks) to join them along with Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) and Kung Lao (Max Huang) to battle for the fate of Earth against supernatural warriors like Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Mileena (Sisi Stringer) and Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada). Tadanobu Asano plays Raiden, Josh Lawson is Kano, Chin Han is Shang Tsung, Daniel Nelson is Kabal and Elissa Cadwell is Nitara. There could be more cast members or characters revealed either closer to the film’s release or afterward as there are glimpses of Shao Khan, maybe Reptile and Goro. The costumes look great and game accurate and two things this reboot really has going for it is an awesome cast who have proven martial arts awesomeness in the past and the R rating, which lets them really give fans the fatalities and violence they crave. The movie arrives on April 16th and you can check out the trailer below.
Mortal Kombat has been on the upswing since 2011’s Mortal Kombat 9 and the two excellent games that followed it and now they can add an excellent animated movie to their list of recent achievements with Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge.
The first (of hopefully many) R rated Mortal Kombat movies from WB Animation, Scorpion’s Revenge puts a new spin on the story of the original Mortal Kombat story with a Scorpioncentric focus as Hanzo Hasashi (Patrick Seitz) loses his family and his life after a brutal attack by the Lin Kuei and Sub-Zero (Steve Blum). Accepting an offer from the nefarious Quan Chi (Darin De Paul), Hasashi returns to Earthrealm as Scorpion and enters the Mortal Kombat tournament on Shang Tsung’s (Artt Butler) island, where he is to retrieve an amulet that will bring back Quan Chi’s master, Shinnok. While on the island, Scorpion encounters Earthrealm’s champions: Liu Kang (Jordan Rodrigues), Sonya Blade (Jennifer Carpenter,) and Johnny Cage (Joel McHale). If you’re a long time MK fan or you saw the still wonderfully cheesy 1995 film, you know the basic plot beats but there’s lots of fun twists and new angles to keep things fresh, like the increased focus on Scorpion and some different match-ups than you’ve seen in previous versions of this story (Johnny vs Baraka, Sonya vs Reptile). There are a few things that seem like a setup for another movie or are just weirdly rushed. Kitana, for example, is barely in the movie, only showing up for an extremely brief fight with Liu Kang and Shang Tsung doesn’t really have that much to do either. There are plenty of easter eggs and callbacks for MK fans though, including famous stages, like the Living Forest and the Pit, and the requisite catchphrases, like “Finish Him!” and “Get over Here!” (Weirdly though, I don’t recall anyone saying “Fatality”).
Another thing Scorpion’s Revenge nails is the absurd amount of violence the series is known for and it leans way into its R rating for every type of decapitation, evisceration, limb chopping, and vivisection you can imagine. The movie also takes the “X-Ray Moves” concept that was introduced in Mortal Kombat 9 and puts its own spin on it, switching to a very stylish view of a skeleton/musculature whenever someone takes a particularly brutal hit. All of the fight scenes, for the most part, are well animated and dynamic and it’s definitely not a phoned-in animation job like some of the more recent DC movies *cough* Killing Joke *cough*. Another thing that makes it feel suitably MK is the voice cast. Outside of Jennifer Carpenter and Joel McHale (both of whom are great, especially McHale who basically is Johnny Cage), the majority of the cast are MK vets as Patrick Seitz, Steve Blum, Grey Griffin, and Kevin Michael Richardson have voiced their characters in the recent Netherealm games or, in Richardson’s case, the 1995 movie as Goro. Without a lot of flashy guest voices and reliably great voice acting veterans, you can really focus on the characters and the story.
If you’re an MK fan, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is a must-watch, not just because it’s the first R rated movie for the franchise but also because its an awesome and faithful adaptation of the series with enough new twists and details to make it not seem like a rehash. Hopefully, this is the first of many movies under the Legends umbrella and that more of the classic MK stories get this treatment (they seem to be setting up a new spin on MK 2 in this movie).
The winner of our So Bad It’s Good tournament, Zach, Chris, and Chris Ali watched 1995’s Mortal Kombat, probably the greatest video game to movie adaptation. When Earth is in danger of losing the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament in a row and allow the evil Shao Khan, emperor of Outworld, to enter and destroy the realm, a group of warriors including Liu Kang (Robin Shou), Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) and Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) are gathered to fight Outworld’s champions, led by the duplicitous Shang Tsung (Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa). The Earth warriors get some guidance from the God of Lightning, Raiden, played by a cheesily great Christopher Lambert. The guys try to figure out the rules of the tournament, the surprisingly tasteful use of the techno theme song, who the hell the other dozen or so Earth fighters are and much more. Mortal Kombat is available on Netflix and you can sync it up with the commentary below and get ready for some Kombat with the Everything Action crew.
Debuting on USA in 1996 at the height of Kombat Mania, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm was an animated take on the MK universe that tied into both Mortal Kombat 3 and the first MK movie.
Episode Title: Kombat Begins Again
Original Airdate: September 21, 1996
Did I Know Anything Going In?: I think I had seen the intro in one of those compilation videos on youtube, but never actually watched an episode or really knew much about it at all.
So as mentioned up top, Defenders of the Realm is a weird hybrid of the movie and game universe. It kind of retcons Annihilation out of existence but also acknowledges events from the games and it’s specifically tied into Mortal Kombat 3, which is the only reason Stryker would be a main character. Johnny Cage is still dead and Shao Khan’s forces are attacking Earthrealm with increasing frequency thanks to portals that are opening up around the globe. Liu Kang, Sonya, Jax, Kitana, Stryker, Nightwolf and Raiden are basically Earth’s main line of defense and fight off the invaders and then close the portals and have somehow been able to keep everything under wraps. In the universe of the cartoon, Nightwolf is actually a tech genius and he’s setup a high tech volcano lair for the team and they also have a trio of high speed “Dragon Jets” that can fly and also travel underwater. The show is also probably most famouse for introducing Quan Chi, who would become a major villain in the games following the show. The main thing the show takes from the movie universe is the thumping techno score, that is pretty much going non-stop in the background of the show. It does actually feature a direct reference to the movie though, as there’s a flashback to Liu Kang fighting Sub-Zero’s brother but it’s been PGified so that Sub-Zero is just frozen and not impaled.
Starting off at full speed, the team fights off an army of robot ninjas led by Cyrax, which helpfully sidesteps the whole Fatalities problem and lets them destroy swarms of bad guys with special moves with 0 repercussions. What is kind of strange though is that the robot ninjas let out a pretty horrifying, blood curdling scream whenever they are destroyed while Sonya yells things like “It’s Kombat Time!”. Sub-Zero II arrives just in time to fight off the last of the robo-ninjas but the group doesn’t trust him because he’s a traitor to his ninja clan. They agree to bring him back to their base though when his info about an impending invasion by Scorpion is proven true by Raiden. The base is attacked by nomads aka Barakas and the group blames Sub-Zero but he proves himself yet again and they found that he was unknowingly carrying a tracking device and they fully accept him on the team to help fight off Scorpion in the next episode.
One surprising thing about Defenders of the Realm is that there’s actual some top tier talent on the voice cast. Clancy Brown voices Raiden and carries over Christopher Lambert’s sassiness in his more gruff voice while Ron Perlman voices Stryker and Scorpion. Craziest of all is Luke Perry voicing Sub Zero, who had just left Beverly Hills 90210 after it’s sixth season and was in a weird voice over phase where he was in this, Biker Mice from Mars and The Incredible Hulk. Perry is really trying to give Sub-Zero that gravelly, wounded hero voice but it doesn’t quite work. Other people on the voice cast are Brian Tochi, who played Leonardo in the live action TMNT movies, Olivia d’Abo, who 90’s kids probably best remember from The Big Green and Dorian Harewood, who was in a ton of 90’s cartoons like Sonic the Hedgehog, Prostars and Spider-Man.
Defenders of the Realm is not the worst MK related thing but it’s also not that great either. The one thing it has going for it is that it moves at such an insanely rapid pace that you don’t really have time to register some of it’s flaws. The animation style looks pretty cheap but they did try to incorporate some trademark MK moves and characters and it deserves a lot of praise for trying to wipe out Annihilation from existence. Ultimately though, PG Mortal Kombat is just something that just doesn’t really work.
Everything Action is teaming up with A Video Game Con (which Chris is helping to run) for August’s Movie of the Month, the insanely terrible Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
Picking up immediately after the first movie left off (with almost none of the original cast though except Robin Shou as Liu Kang and Talisa Soto as Kitana), Shao Khan (Brian Thompson) arrives on Earth and kills Johnny Cage and the rest of the Earthrealm fighters retreat and must figure out a way to stop Khan from merging Outworld and Earthrealm but that pretty much boils down to getting into nonsensical fights with the movie’s jam packed and horribly realized slew of ninjas, robots and a rubbery version of Baraka and Liu Kang learning how to turn himself into one of the most horrifically bad CG creations in cinema history. Annihilation pretty much does the opposite of the first movie and just throws in way too many characters and makes things way too complicated and there’s not even the sliver of a plot to hold everything together. It still does have that face melting theme song though:
After blowing the socks off the internet and Warner Bros. with his original fan trailer of a gritty, realistic take on Mortal Kombat, Kevin Tancharoen was given the reins to a full web series that gave most of the core Mortal Kombat characters slightly different origins and grounded the craziness of the games while still having cyber ninjas, awesome martial arts battles and magic. With a bigger budget and bigger stars, the second season is here and, following the Netflix model, all the episodes are available to stream right now. For this season, the tournament is finally on and it’s more along the lines of Hunger Games or Battle Royale where the “kombatants” seek each other out on an island in Outworld and try to be the last man standing. Some of the recognizable faces include Mark Dacascos as Kung Lao, Casper Van Dien as Johnny Cage, Ian Anthony Dale as Scorpion, Brian Tee as Liu Kang and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa reprising his role of Shang Tsung from the original Mortal Kombat movie. The fights are great and just the costumers and overall look is greatly improved over the already great first season. Check out the playlist below for all ten episodes.