Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Genre: Action, Fantasy, and Martial Arts Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.

Release Date: November 21st, 1997 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: John R. Leonetti Actors: Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, James Remar, Sandra Hess, Lynn Red Williams, Brian Thompson, Reiner Schoene, Musetta Vander, Irina Pantaeva, Deron McBee, Marjean Holden, Litefoot

 


 

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pening with quite possibly the least sincere, most obnoxious theme music imaginable, this sequel proceeds to recap the previous entry, insisting that dueling in magical arenas is not about death, but rather the preservation of life. Ever since Liu Kang (Robin Shou) and Sonya Blade (Sandra Hess) defeated the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat, the Earth Realm was granted a generation of peace. But it’s short-lived, as Shao Kahn (Brian Thompson), emperor of Outworld, opens a new portal to once again wreak havoc on Lord Raiden (James Remar) and his army of human combatants – including Johnny Cage (Chris Conrad) and Kitana (Talisa Soto).

As Kahn’s extermination squads track down Raiden’s soldiers, the immortal white wizard slowly loses his powers, since the two realms are steadily merging. In a mere six days, the world will face total annihilation, leaving it up to Kang and Kitana to recruit new warriors to engage in a fresh series of showdowns, while Raiden confronts the Elder Gods to discover their complicity – or disappointing ignorance – in matters concerning their kingdom. And then there’s the issue of Kitana’s dead mother, Queen Sindel (Musetta Vander), whose soul must be saved from eternal damnation … or something like that.

The film wastes no time getting straight into the skirmishes, glossing over storytelling for the sake of quick action. As it so happens, the plot is of little importance, as it borrows plenty of truly bizarre ideas mostly taken from the video games, designed solely for preexisting fans; anyone unfamiliar with the source material, as well as the prior theatrical adaptation, should steer clear. And there’s little effort here to provide comprehensible explanations or motives, even for those yenning for this exact sort of tale (perhaps the only aspect not raising eyebrows is the absence and replacement of several of the main cast members). “I don’t have time for these stupid games!”

Sadly, even for longtime “Mortal Kombat” enthusiasts, the execution is lacking. Frequent location changes allow for continual new battlegrounds – such as when Sonya and Mileena (Dana Hee) wrestle around in a mucky desert canyon (“You do look good in mud”) – while props and costumes alternate between flimsy and surprisingly versatile, particularly for movement. But wirework is unconvincing, computer graphics are terribly dated, and sound bites ripped from the video games are laughable at best. Plus, it’s evident that slow-motion and rapid edits are routinely utilized to obscure various moments of inferior martial arts; not everyone in the cast can persuasively fight.

Though a few of the engagements pose a nominal amount of entertainment value, the techno-infused soundtrack is grating and the dialogue is obnoxious. At least the appearance of numerous characters from the games will amuse diehard devotees – including recognizable visualizations of Jax (Lynn Red Williams), Jade (Irina Pantaeva), Sheeva (Marjean Holden), Baraka (Dennis Keiffer), and Nightwolf (Litefoot), as well as strangely inaccurate depictions of personas like Shinnok (Reiner Schoene) and Motaro (Deron McBee). Ultimately, however, much of it looks like mediocre cosplay, while the climax devolves into a mess of pitiful CG animalities – video game finishing moves that definitely shouldn’t have been translated into the realm of cinema.

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10