Review: Mortal Kombat Legacy II – series wrap-up
In 2011, to accompany the Mortal Kombat video game reboot, a live-action no-nonsense reimagining of the battle between Earth realm and Outworld hit the internet via webisodes hosted by Machinima. To say it captured our attention would be an understatement.
Looking to distance itself tonally from the Mortal Kombat movies of the mid-1990s it was brutally violent, spectacularly shot and directed considering the budget and outstandingly well cast. Starring Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager) and Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica) it more than delivered on its promise as well as tenuously linking this web series to the original films by masterfully having Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa reprise his role as Shang Tsung. It was gritty, compelling, mixed media by throwing in suitable anime excerpts and gave the franchise some much needed credibility.
Director Kevin Tancharoen beautifully choreographed the action, well suited to the genre given his dance video background. The initial series focused on Sonya Blade and Jax versus Kano, Scorpion versus Sub Zero, Mileena versus Kitana, Cyrax and Sektor as well as a brilliant-one off featuring Raiden. It delved into each character’s history, rivalry, connections and neatly fleshed out enough of each participant’s back story (often tragically) and the road which led them to the Mortal Kombat tournament, though there were no fatalities to be found.
Two years on and another ten delicious webisodes have just dropped on Machinima. There have been a few cast reshuffles with original Johnny Cage actor Matt Mullins replaced rather masterfully (and ironically) by Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) and the core plot-line focuses on a despondent Liu Kang (Brian Tee – The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) questioning his loyalties to Earth realm and, in turn, his master Kung Lao (Mark Dacascos – Brotherhood of the Wolf).
There are rehashes of previous tales as the rivalries between Scorpion and Sub Zero and Mileena and Kitana are resolved, fatality… sorry, fatally, as well as new players Stryker and Kenshi fleetingly introduced. This new series still has the same high production values, is surprisingly well acted though some of the choreography lacks the tightness seen in the 2011 series. This is due in part to the favouring of acting ability over martial arts prowess of some of the leads, and some sequences lack punch failing to deliver that knock out blow seen so convincingly before by Kevin Tancharoen.
That said, it doesn’t massively detract from the overall experience, with the intertwining webisodes neatly slotting together and concluding with one hell of a cliffhanger. Check out the first episode below and enjoy a video game adaptation done right.