Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mortal Kombat: Legacy

In 2010 director Kevin Tancharoen released the short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth to Warner Bros. as a pitch for a new live action Mortal Kombat film reboot. Warner Bros. passed on the film, but gave him the consolation prize of making a live action web series. This led to 2011's Mortal Kombat: Legacy (trailer), which was originally released as nine separate episodes on and later compiled onto a BluRay release which is the subject of today's entry! The second season of Legacy is out next week on video, and Tancharoen confirmed he is set to direct season three.

I am kind of a Mortal Kombat nut. I have always been awful at the games, but remember being addicted to at least several entries in the series since the gore-filled fighting game started creating controversies in arcades in its 1992 debut. The original 1995 film is tied with Hitman as my favorite videogame-to-film adaptation, while the sequel in Annihilation unfortunately ranks at the bottom of the barrel of videogame films with other atrocities like Super Mario Bros. and practically everything directed by Uwe Boll. I was psyched this would lead to another Mortal Kombat film, especially with the latest game installments still lighting up the sales charts, and every now and then you hear rumors that Warner Bros. has it in the works, but eventually the rumors prove false.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy is split up into nine episodes, with each episode running around ten minutes and focusing on the origin story of one or two specific MK warriors. The first two episodes focus on Jax (Michael Jai White), Sonya Blade (Jeri Ryan) and Kano (Darren Shahlavi), and it has the look and feel of the final act of gangster film where they track down and raid the base of a crime lord. The action is raw and gritty just how I like it. The Johnny Cage (Matt Mullins) episode is exactly how I wanted it to be, where Cage was a once prominent martial arts movie star, and is now struggling to make it in the direct to video market. Cage was always my favorite fighter from the games because of how over the top he portrayed his movie star persona, and Legacy captured that character to a T!

The origins of Kitana (Samantha Tjhia) and Mileena (Jolene Tran) are a two part episode that dive a bit deeper into the Mortal Kombat lore than I care for. Part of me feels like they easily could have compressed it into one episode. Tancharoen got the blessing from Warner Bros. to take a few artistic liberties and mix up the origin story for Raiden (Ryan Robbins) significantly compared to his origin from the videogame. It is a fresh take on the character that I think works for the universe Tancharoen is crafting. Mortal Kombat's two signature ninjas, Scorpion (Ian Anthony Dale) & Sub-Zero (Kevan Ohtsji) dives deep into both ninja's clan rivalry in another two part episode, but is more fascinating and better paced compared to the Kitana & Mileena episodes. The final episode is all about Cyrax (Shane Warren Jones) & Sektor (Peter Shinkoda), but this episode felt more like Tancharoen paying homage to the opening of Robocop in a nice special effects spectacle of Cyrax and Sektor getting robot-ified.

There are five extra features totaling up for about a good 45 minutes of behind the scenes content. Fight is the beefiest extra that goes in depth on the choreography and stunts of the fight scenes. Fan Made and Expanding the Netherream interviews the cast and crew and game creator Ed Boon on how Legacy came to be and what life was like behind the scenes. Mysticism and Gear are all about the aforementioned MK lore and special effects and costumes used to make the characters true to their videogame origins.

The Mortal Kombat junkie in me is a little sketchy recommending this as a standalone purchase, especially you can still watch the series on Machinima's channel on YouTube for free. Most of the episodes are pretty entertaining, but each one has opening and closing credits to skip through for a not-so-seamless watch between episodes. I did see Target has a three-in-one BluRay with this packaged with both of the live action films from the 90s for $12.99, which is a pretty good deal and my recommended way of picking this up. I have managed not to catch any of season two so far and am looking forward to its release on video next week!

Previous TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 7
Seinfeld Final Season

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