It wasn’t GLORIOUS: Mortal Kombat Annihilation Review

Hello Island Guests it is time for more video game movies! Today’s movie is one of the more infamous movies among the list and for good reason. Where the original is an okay movie.. like legitimately there was enough to like in that flawed product..that is the first Mortal Kombat movie.. but this second outing is just….

The second movie picks up exactly where the first movie left off. Our heroes Johnny Lui Sonya Kitana  and of course Raiden come back to Lui’s temple for a well earned celebration for saving the world. Except.. something looks different. Something is not right. Raiden, Johnny Cage and Sonya have all been recast which already is a pretty big flag. The big name actors did not want to participate anymore! While I did not like Christopher Lambert’s portrayal of Raiden in the last movie.. I do think he made the right call here. While James Remar, who is probably best known for playing Harry Morgan in Dexter, in my opinion does play the superior Raiden that is much closer to the personality of what a Thunder God should be, I really did not like how much the persona had flipped over the last few seconds since we saw Raiden in the last movie. Somehow somewhere Raiden suddenly became a much more religious duty filled god. I would cheer for that in a remake, or even a sequel that took place years after the original..but you can not have an actor play a role as “their thing” if it is set seconds after the last one!  

The whole Shao Kahn reveal thing happens differently as well, in the first part they just saw Shao Kahn’s face in the sky before stuff went down.. that doesn’t happen at all now! Instead his face is only show last… in some sort of dramatic pose reveal! That’s not how this happened?!  Guys if you are going to break continuity at least set this as few moments later to facilitate what you are trying to do! Obviously that is not what is going to happen here! Shao Kahn reveals the new fighters that need to be defeated and says the the earth will be destroyed in 6 days just like it was created and on the 7th day mankind shall rest IN PEACE!
Now that kind of sounds cool in a speech! You know a christian parallel.. but you are literally telling this to people who revere a thunder god named Raiden at a Shaolin temple!  So that whole bible quote is made for us as an Audience.. because there’s literally like two people there that even have the slightest chance to be christians!  With the deadline set people have ot find new fighters as they climb into giant steel balls that go through the core of the earth to anywhere. Sonya goes to America to find Jax… you know the guy she left behind three days ago to apprehend Kano in Hong Kong.. apparently when his partner vanished the thought… let me return home to America take a few days off and let me get my arms mechanically enhanced.. you know like any good special forces partner on the job of apprehending a criminal ganglord would do.

This movie is super painful , where the original does tell an okay job of giving a version of the original Mortal Kombat, Annihilation just throws darts at a player select screen  to pick which character to introduce next.  Obviously they could not continue to play the game or read some in game lore text because there were arrows through the screen… See movie what I did.. I set up one event… and let it have a logical effect on the subsequent events.. that’s a thing! This movie’s story telling is a mess. While Raiden and Sonya chase after Jax…oh right Not Johnny Cage died in the first minutes by the way… Kitana and Liu have to find a man named Night Wolf so he can teach Liu Kang the power to defeat Shao Kahn. When suddenly the Scorpion that exploded showed up..working for Shao Kahn and then kidnaps Kitana. New Sub-Zero shows up (and this IS a thing)  and fights New .. (I hope) Scorpion in one of the most awkwardly stage fights ever. Scorpion captures Kitana in the end and flees.. and he stops existing from the movie.. meanwhile New Sub-Zero tells Lui … well though luck for losing the princess better find that Night Wolf guy .. bye bye .. and he stops existing as well.  Now it’s nice to see Scorpion and Sub-Zero duke it out as this is cannon but the current Sub-Zero had a beef with Scorpion because he killed his brother Bihan. Yet in this movie Lui killed Bihan…or Bihan mostly killed himself  yet for some reason the blue ninja  still has a beeft with the yellow ninja.  He also is an earth fighter now while his brother represented Outworld.. I guess with the fusing worlds it can happen…but it feels so weird to suddenly see an Outworld fighter side with Earth Realm.. because…?! Cameo! This movie is very poorly written.

This movie is insane, which gives it some entertainment value but also makes it really hard to sit trough.Don’t get me wrong I like crazy but there has to be some sort of payoff and that isn’t always the case in this movie. For example those steel balls which you steer by leaning into.. being moved by the thermics of the  magma flow of the earth… how do they not burn alive in those! They have to hold the metal that uses the earth’s heat and termics  to go fast… you are holding a steel object right above lava… But sure I am willing to believe that one.. what I am not willing to believe is Night Wolf. At one point our main Hero finds Night Wolf who instead of a wise indian Shaman.. is Raiden from the last movie.. unhelpful. To beat Shao Kahn look has to do a few trials.. like he did in the last movie.. He also must have a vision on how to unlock his animality. To get this vision Night Wolf…..throws an axe to his head and knocks him out.  While Lui doesn’t really take any trials as he is interrupted by the cleary treacherous but .. I trust her anyway, Jade…in the end it turns out that axe to the back to his head was enough to unlock his animality…even though the world is at stake Night Wolf also just ceases to exist…All this wise man did was mention the word animality and then throw an Axe at Lui’s had… and arguably that was enough to save the world!

Meanwhile Raiden visits “the temple of the Elder Gods” With gods named like Fuijin, Raiden and heck even Shinnok  you would expect  some for of eastern themed, perhaps shinto like temple but no! Clearly they dwell in Central American Ruins. Probably because that was cheaper…and instead of talking to someone in person they just are a water wind and fire effect. ..When Sindel the evil Banshee queen wants to destroy her enemies whom she can look straight at she firstly collapses the temple a mile away..because….. frick if I know. Not only does this movie pay no attention to telling a flowing story, it doesn’t even care if characters act completely invisible. Sonya can’t tell the difference between Kitana and Mileena who have a vastly different fighting style, one wears Pink and got sent to the different side of the world and she doesn’t even look like Kitana, not the same actress.. it’s just a reference to the in game sprites…if you wanted to look so alike have them acted by the same actor with a different haircut or something.. No one makes sense in this movie not one single person has a logical goal. Jade for example turns out to be a betrayer… why did she not just kill Lui in his sleep, why actually take him to outworld and in the right direction?  What did she gain from that betrayal? Why did Nightwolf run away if he has an animality himself he can help stop Shao Kahn, Why does Sonya act like she was Johnny Cage’s lover? That never happened!

Then of course there is the final fight against Shao Kahn.. where the animality thing.. which was the big gimmick of the movie doesn’t even matter in the end.. the fight is not finished in animal form it goes on a bit after that. While Lui is the only one that can stop Shao Kahn Raiden tries anyway and dies because obviously he would as he knows he is not the one to stop Shao Kahn.. I get why he fights since they are brothers and all.. but .. basically he ignores the entire quest they are send on just to get hit by a slow projectile.. He has also been hit by these things before and it did not do that much damage.. sure Raiden was weakening but it felt like a super odd kill.  Then Liu Kang changes into the wrong dragon..and Shao Kahn changes into….something.. and  Shinnok gets the same punishment general Zod did. For an all powerful god he certainly got super surprised. It is all super weird and feels much more like a kid trying to string each other a few cool scenes than to make a semi decent film product.

When I called the  fights in part one poorly choreographed I did not remember how much poorer these fights were.  There is so much sloppy CGI in these ones that there is almost no actual fighting going on. Fireballs speed up kicks, flying bodypresses, all the stuff from the games is here now..bit since the movie doesn’t have the budget or the skill to pull it off now nothing feels like it actually connects. This is solved by making the camera blink in and out of a scene within mere seconds, motions aren’t rounded off and the moment a cgi attack impacts a character we usually see an angle switch or two, maybe some slow motion too to make the landing of a hit feel real?! It doesn’t help that now half of the cast is either a cg character, or horribly a super gimmicky character either. Like half the evil generals are killed by accident or by Shao Kahn himself.. who throws Rain in a bit of fire..because he defeated Striker and Kabal and he captured instead of killed them?!  Why.. they are captured you can kill them still.. the heroes are still days off and you know it. Sheeva gets crushed by a chandelier… not kidding.. she gets Looney Tuned to death and Baraka falls in that same fire pit again. Jade gets fed to some ugly cgi for no reason at all. Had the Emperor of Outworld not had offed  half of his own allies he would have even won most likely. Yet this saved in having to come up with fights for characters not designed to fight.

Sheeva and Rain for example never did anything, never threw a single punch. Sheeva being one of those four armed Shokan with a smaller body than Goro I can see be very difficult to realise so instead of not having there.. they opt for having her be there and be crushed by a chandelier. Ermac who fights magic and telekinetic powers was not visual enough so instead they give him Noob Saibot’s abilities. Honestly the only enemy that sort of mattered were Motaro and Sindel and while Sindel is plot relevant you can completely leave Motaro out of the plot and nothing would change. Raiden’s fights are the worst though.his fight against three reptiles is so weird. There is one moment where both he and a reptile stand there doing three  spin kicks.. but they are so far out of each others range clearly they would miss. While Raiden is running away for a more tactical ground instead of just backing up he decides to cartwheel around burning energy.. and as soon as they land punches.. we see each hit from three angels.. once is the stunt actor doing the fight, the second is a limp prop hitting the target and the third is a shot on the actors phase to say..yeah that’s clearly Raiden. I had to take a short break to give my eyes a bit of a rest that’s how flickery it was. The absolute worst parts in his fighters are when they add Raidens game cry to  to his attack.. like the Aybabayay flying thunder god attack. There isn’t too much stuff good going for this movie. 

This movie is quite terrible, like I can almost honestly say there is nothing good about it, the soundtrack is not bad but it’s as good as the first one! It’s just a repeat of the same thing. What saves this movie is the terrible acting. It is so poorly done… that is is just soooo funny to watch. Sindel, Shao Kahn and Motaro in particular are so insanely over the top I just  laugh out loud.. I honestly think if Shao Kahn gave this speech about conquering our world for real..but if he did it the exact same way I’d be rolling on the floor laughing. If my own mother would go evil and go missing and I’d say Mommy.. you are alive and she’d be “Too bad YOU!… will… DIE!”  I’d soil my pants. This movie is definitely in the category so bad that it’s good. However where movies like Troll 2 , Rubber , Birdemic and The Room kind of reward you with some lovely weirdness here I feel the movie is just a bit to derailed.  In Troll 2 we get scenes where we know not to take this movie to serious… like the sex scene that is so hot that popcorn starts popping.. but he also eats vegetables so he can turn into a vegetable.. it flags the movie as a mess! Rubber which is about a car tire with psycho kinetic head exploding powers is like that as well. The Room almost has this alien-like quality to it as well. As if the writer really doesn’t understand humans.  

Annihilation lacks that self awareness. It’s not made to be this bad it’s not made to make you laugh at the wooden acting. It has to many drama moments for that and a story that is written as if it should be really taken serious and it becomes a lesser movie for it. Where I can watch The Room and be “hahaha oh my Arceus, that is so dumb” while with Mortal Kombat I more oftenly found myself going Mewwwz that is dumb!  *Annoyed sigh*  Where Troll 2 told us a bonkers story with bad acting it at least told it consistently in how it tells it. Heck even Rubber with it’s fourth wall breaking plot. With Mortal Kombat, so many characters just stop existing that it feels a bit like a unfinished childrens drawing.  You can look at it and laugh at the silly figures but you can’t laugh to hard because it’s not finished.. is the mistake intentional or would they come back to add to it still.. what is in the background it seems to have been erased, so all in all you can take in some elements and laugh at that.. but as a whole.. it’s just there….it’s good for a drunken night but if you really want a so bad that it’s good movie.. keep following this blog and maybe in a week or two or three … I’ll offer you something better… I have seen this movie three times now.. and that is more than enough! Just no!

You can watch this movie perfectly fine on a bad movie night and there is a chance you might enjoy yourself.However there is nothing positive about this movie other than’s bad enough to just laugh.That doesn’t mean it deserves a better grade though. Normally I end with an analogy so here it is.. this movie is like an SM session, if pain is your thing this is enjoyable but the damage is still real. Unfortunately the branding Iron we get in the beginning is quickly swapped out for a rubber band with only a few cattle prod moments.. so mostly it is annoying.

That being said it’s no where near as bad as the next video game movie I will be watching Uwe Boll’s: Postal! You will not be getting that the next week though as we start my anniversary special! The week after that my OWLS post goes only on the 27th will I talk to you about the movie..that scored lower than Mang-No! Subscribe to make sure you do not miss it!

Test your Might: MORTAL KOMBAT! The Movie Review

For the fourth week in a row I took it upon myself to review video game movies! How long can I keep this up?! How much can my brain take before it turns into mush! Has it turned to mush already and is that why I am willingly watching video game movies? I do not know! What I do know is that this movie is one of the higher ranking of the 40ish video game movies.  Ranking it at I believe number 5 on Rotten Tomatoes with an approval rating of 49%. Oof! I do actually agree that this is one of the better video game movies out there! Yet the grade doesn’t seem to far off either!

Mortal Kombat is a 1995 movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and is almost exclusively known for its killer soundtrack. I think everyone who reads this will read MORTAL KOMBAT,  in that shouty voice of that totally retro track that since has become a part of the series.

Fairly recently Shang Tsung  has been added to the roster of DLC fighters for Mortal Kombat 11.. and with Aftermath being released he finally got his part in the story there.  What you might not know is that THIS Shang Tsung has been based on Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s portrayal of said character.. in this movie. Including his iconic catchphrase! Your Soul IS MINE! Which I think is really nice! I did love that character in this movie and to be fair.. it isn’t even that bad of a movie! It deserves some recognition, however this movie is completely overshadowed by its sequel for all the wrong reasons! So let’s judge this movie for what it is! Not for what it produced. For those who like to see me suffer… I shall review the sequel soon too!

The movie is centered around the three iconic good guys from the first Mortal Kombat game and also seems to loosely follow the plot of that game. As far as Mortal Kombat had a plot back then of course. Liu Kang, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade , unknowingly get selected to participate in a tournament called Mortal Kombat. When a realm loses 10 Kombat’s in in a row the Emperor Shao Kahn can take over that realm. Earthrealm has lost 9 matches already so now these three are our only hope! Well them and of course the legendary MK fighter Art Lean! You know! That guy! Whose been in none of the games, who might be a reference to the great Kung Lao.. but only shares a fate. Art Lean will be the chosen one I am sure. Anyhow!  Lui, Johnny  and Sonya have to fight in the tournament to defeat the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung to prevent Shao Kahn from taking over Earth Realm! The term tournament can be used very lightly here though! They mostly just fight! There is a comic though that shows how the tournament actually worked!

Let’s start with the positives here! What this movie does do right is setting up a few fairly interesting characters that do feel like their video game counter parts, all with a journey ahead of them.

Liu has a vision/dream of Shang killing his brother and wants revenge..but with this pain in his heart he can never win. Johnny is to arrogant he is concerned to look good and stylish, he fights for selfish and mostly petty reasons. Sonya wants to kill Kano and she wants to do it herself! She has hardened herself so much after losing her partner that she never wants a partner again. Closing herself off towards others refusing help. While their journeys are incredibly simple and somewhat cliché  it does work quite well.  It makes Sonya less annoying when she becomes the Damsel in distress, it makes Liu start out as a much more interesting and flawed person than his video game counterpart and Johnny Cage.. well he is just amazing because he is Johnny cage! I really think Linden Ashby portays the man quite well. His comedic timing is a bit off at times but overall he’s the character I enjoyed the most. 

Kano’s portayel would really bleed over in how the character appears to be in the “cinematic MK games” (9 and up) so clearly he and Shang Tsung did a great job as well. Sonya as an actress I found rather one dimensional and not very engaging, in part due to the writing but also because she can sound needlessly bitey in her delivery, which could be intended to make her even colder..but it just makes her unappealing. Liu does a fine job over all, I do believe his acting and I actually like this Liu better than the preachy one in the video games.  This one feels more like a Kung Lao and Liu Kang Hybrid and I like that. For 1995 standards I don’t think the effects are to bad either. Reptile looks bad, and Goro can be kinda derpy but it’s never that distracting. It usually knows how to frame these shots.  The plot and progress over all is enjoyable with a bit of a slip up pacing wise at the end.. but over all I do get Mortal Kombat vibes. 

I liked the sets as well, the creepy ship, Tsung’s palace, Goro’s Lair there are a lot of winks and nods to Mortal Kombat Stages. I just wish they’d fight in them more instead of running through.Given how so many MK stages are very narrow though I can see  why they went this route though! Its shot fairly smart!  You get those MK vibes without actually seeing fights in the tricky areas. The best thing of this movie though is .. as mentioned earlier.. the sound track! This movie can really get you hyped up for the action through a slew of hype tracks!  They are all cheesy..but most of the actors lean into this cheese as well! Johnny, Tsung, Liu and Lord Raiden in particular. While I have some less nice things to say about Christopher Lambert’s  portrayal of the thundergod tonally they are fairly in sync! Goro as well! Only Sonya seems a bit over dramatic and more down to earth I guess. The B-movie vibe is real throughout and that means it can get away with a lot of things! Like that amazing soundtrack!

All of the above makes this movie pretty fun to watch! At the very least watchable!

However this movie is also plagued with numerous mistakes that ever prevent it from being more than.. a fun watch. Christopher Lambert’s portrayal of Raiden was one of my biggest gripes that took me out of the movie every time he shows up. He is just SUCH an incredible piece of doo-doo! His laughs are almost as fake as Tommy Wiseau’s! This Raiden is not a fighter but a mentor, who guides the three through their tournament. Yet to save the world he is in charge of he is incredibly cryptic and misleading. He treats Liu like he is an ass.. and true he Kang can be an dillhole has well but jeesz! Why would you not be straight with people trying to save the world.  He just shows up.. scolds people or makes fun of them and teleport away. He feels more like a evil power ranger than anything else.  While he isn’t poorly acted all the time there is no gravitas to him, he feels like a guy having fun and will see if Earth goes up the down the drain or not! Which in it’s own makes the character a bit of a throw-away.

He isn’t the worst person though! That honour goes to the fight coordinator. These fights are done HORRIBLY! From a stunt work/flow perspective at least.  Watching Corridor Crew on YouTube has taught me some things about how to frame stunt work and this is not how you do it! There is so much cheating. Nearly every connecting punch is shot in a close up, all kicks once again close up on the foot making an impact that often isn’t even the actual foot I think!  Just a prop being applied!  We get ugly cuts in fights so a character that makes a low sweep is suddenly up right again and stuff like that. This happens through EVERY fight! Actions chosen make no sense from a dynamic fighting stance. Like in the heat of battle fighters can stop fighting each other and back down for some slow posing.

Characters wait while someone invokes a painfully slow technique.  People refuse to use their legs when their arms are grappled even if it could break them free and other stuff.  These fights did not flow at all. It’s a static combination of brief shots that do mimic the sense if impact.. but because we lack the actual impact.. we aren’t fooled.  Most fights resolve in stupid ways as well. Most enemies are dealt with through trickery or special moves. Like when Johnny cage picks up a shield and slightly slices scorpions head with it .. who as a result explodes. Or how Goro is dealt with.. Sub-Zero doesn’t have the most gracious ending either.. why did his technique suddenly change from a small frosty ball to a huge frosty field. That seems rather stupid.  How did Raiden know he would use that technique instead of the tiny frost ball they saw him use earlier?!

The final fights, against reptile and Shang Tsung are a bit better but the reptile fight ends incredibly silly. Most of the fighters get down from a blow to the chest anway.. many of them do not feel like a finishing blow!  The first half of the Shang Tsung fight was kind of nice! We see some actual hits being taken in a more flowing combat but that then is taken away completely by the second bout of the fight. Shang transforms in Liu Kang’s brother in front of his very eyes! For some reason that prompts him to believe he is seeing is brother?! How! You JUST SAW the villian transform! You know you have to overcome your greatest fear and  you know the chinese magic man has your brothers soul?! How on Earth Realm did you get fooled! Worst of all! Shang Tsung doesn’t take advantage of this.. there is a pit of spikes down below and instead of tossing in the distracted Liu Kang  down killing him.. he tries to convince him to jump in himself.. so they can be together! The heck! I know this movie did not make a lot of sense before but this is pushing it!  After he finally sees through the illusion Tsung takes the time to transform back before the fight resumes! Why?! You can still exploit the smaller body stature to your advantage! Reeeeee! Pinkie Tantrum!

After beating the transformed back Shang Tsung and tossing him into the pit… Liu Kang had the audacity to claim Flawless victory!

That my boy, was not flawless!  You got punched a lot .. plus you got fooled. We  skip forward to people being back at Liu’s temple! Everyone is happy they won Mortal Kombat when suddenly Shao Kahn attacks! People take a fighting stance and the movie ends.  This movie has always been a guilty pleasure but learning more about stunt work and framing the camera has taken away a lot of it’s charm. It isn’t exactly bad but the fighting in this movie really isn’t all that!  Given that it’s a movie that’s about fighting that is a negative. I had more fun with the character moments, the meal, the boat ride and most Johnny Cage stuff.  Which doesn’t make it less fun.. but if you go and watch football would you say the match was nice because of the halftime act?! Not sure myself because I do not watch football.  Still if I order a steak in a restaurant I care more about how that tastes than the side dishes! This steak has tasty sides but the meat is overcooked.

This film however has become more than just a movie! It has become a legacy!  It’s soundtrack, it’s rendition of Shang Tsung , the way it’s character portayles have seeped into the main series.  It’s as much a part of Mortal Kombat as the first arcade cabinet itself. It wouldn’t be able to do that if this movie had nothing going for it either. It has a charm to it and a certain likeability. It’s like your Dojiko friend! It stumbles a lot and when they ruin a nice moment for you.. you could really scold at them but then if you look it into those innocent well meaning eyes you can not help but to crack a smile and say “there there” while giving a head pat. The movie is there for you.. it respects it’s source material (for the most part) and of course it has Art Lean! The guy who got to act out that Mortal Kombat “Finish him!!” pose.. and kinda gets away with it as well!  You know where they just spin on their legs! It’s cheesy but it works!

It’s a harmless watch  that can be kinda fun  that offers you one hour and forty minutes of low brow entertainment.  Sometimes you go to McDonalds to buy a happy meal. You know the toy will be of less than stellar quality and besides the Yoghurt the food will not taste very good.. but it’s fun. This is the same situation. I would not recommend it  yet at the same time I think many people would have a pleasant enough watch. If you want to see something more legendary though.. the sequel is definitely the better pick. Chances are though that will be a much less pleasant experience. Edit: By the Time I post this I have watched the sequal ..and boy …past Pinkie wasn’t wrong when she told me I would have a more memorable but less pleasant experience! You will know about it.. in two weeks!

What did you think of this movie?! What video game movie should I review next? Who is your favorite Mortal Kombatant? Let me know in the Komments!