sunnuntai 24. kesäkuuta 2012

MOVIE REVIEW - Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Robin Shou : Liu Kang
Talisa Soto : Kitana
James Remar : Raiden
Sandra Hess : Sonya Blade
Lynn "Red" Williams : Jax
Brian Thompson : Shao Kahn
Reiner Schöne : Shinnok
Musetta Vander : Sindel
Irina Pantaeva : Jade
Deron McBee : Motaro

Written by Lawrence Kasanoff, Joshua Wexler & John Tobias
Directed by John R. Leonetti


Emperor Shao Kahn invades Earthrealm and merges it with Outworld, which results in the obliteration of billions of souls. Only the survivors of the Mortal Kombat tournament are left with their souls intact under Raiden’s protection. What follows is an incoherent mess which is hard enough to understand, but even harder to watch.

At 2:35, it's official. This sucks.
The breakdown? You want the breakdown, seriously? Here's your breakdown. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation sucks ass.

I don’t even know where to begin. The plot’s “inspired” by the one used in Mortal Kombat 3, but it takes some liberties. For example, Kabal and Stryker are mentioned, but they are never seen – perhaps because a change of scenery would’ve meant they’d had to build another set, and I don’t think they had enough money to do that. That’s probably the reason why 90% of the movie looks exactly the same. The filming techniques are less than unprofessional, the editing and continuity errors are endless, the backgrounds are obvious bluescreens, the effects suck, the CGI is nauseatingly bad and it’s used all the time to shove the vomit back up your throat, the “acting” is just downright horrible, the plot’s initial backdrop is decent but the utterly useless cameos and people dying like bitches piss all over everything remotely good about it, and the music doesn’t make the movie any easier to watch. There’s some classic Mortal Kombat thump in there for sure, but I pretty much closed my personal nanoreceivers after hearing Scooter’s “Fire” in a fighting scene. Oh yeah, and the fighting scenes suck, too. Why was this piece of shit made?! And how in the hell can the creators of this horrible abomination live with themselves? You know, I think this movie alienated me from the Mortal Kombat franchise for all those years. I never realized Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias himself co-wrote the flick; it's no wonder he resigned from the franchise some time after the movie came out.

Jade, huh? Even Sheeva was prettier.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is seriously one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. When I think of really bad movies that I’ve actually watched to the end – due to some fascination with the franchise rather than the hope of the movie taking a turn for the better – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation might very well share the #1 spot on my shitlist with Exorcist II: The Heretic. The movies have much more in common than one could just catch out of the blue: they’re both sequels to stellar movies of their kind, they both pick up from where the first ones left off, they both include a lot of flashbacks and explanations, as well as utterly ridiculous plot twists, and ultimately, they exist only to piss, shit, sneeze and throw up on the legacy of their predecessors.

Let’s take it from the beginning. There’s a flashback sequence that recaps the previous movie’s events, leading up right to the end – this sequence is probably the best part of this movie. You’re sure the narrator is Raiden, but he doesn’t sound like Christopher Lambert. Well, there’s a reason for that: Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and Talisa Soto (Kitana) are the ONLY actors reprising their roles in this piece of shit. I guess the other actors still had some respect for their careers, so they backed off at an early stage. Well, Raiden is played by James Remar. I have always wondered one thing about James Remar: how can a guy look so much like an asshole?! You can look up “looking like an asshole”  in the dictionary, and find Remar’s mug next to the entry. God! It’s a good thing Lambert ain’t in this one. I miss him, but in the end, it’s for the best. Well… Shao Kahn is hiding behind a ridiculous Halloween mask, but I know that voice, and I know that jaw. It’s Brian Thompson. You might remember him from The X-Files and a very minor role in The Terminator (one of the thugs pestering Arnold in the beginning). He’s one bad actor, just seeing him on the screen for a second annoys the hell out of me. Seeing that he’s in a central role does not hold any promises of how this session is going to turn out. It’s good to point out at this time, that I bought the VHS when it was brand new – direct-to-video – and the movie was very hard for me to watch back then. I watched it once, but never again. This was my first time in nearly 15 years. It might’ve been hard to watch way back when, now it’s simply impossible without a six-pack of beer in my hands’ immediate reach.

Liu Kang: "This is horrible."
Raiden: "I know, right? The emperor's
evil knows no boundaries."
Liu Kang: "I meant this movie, asshole!"

So, Johnny Cage dies – like a bitch – less than five minutes into the film. Good riddance, by far the only line he had made me hate the guy that replaced Linden Ashby. Sonya – now played by Sandra Hess – blames herself for his death about 80% of the time she’s on the screen – read: WHINES AT EVERY OPPOR-FUCKIN’-TUNE MOMENT TO FURTHER ANNOY THE ALREADY ANNOYED VIEWER OF THIS HORSESHIT TURNED INTO A FILM – until she completely forgets about whatshisname. Seriously, this subplot just hits a quiet self-Fatality against a brick wall, just like every other mildly sensical thread about the plot. Anyway, I know Shao Kahn’s supposed to be the ultimate bad-ass and all, but I’m kind of amazed that the guy who beat Goro and Scorpion in the previous flick isn’t even given the chance to so much as touch him before getting his neck twisted down his spine and up his ass. Raiden and his remaining cohorts – Liu Kang, Kitana and Sonya – escape to some underground tunnel and it’s explained that they have six days to save Earth. Then they find some orb-shaped “cabs” that can drop them off at any chosen spot in the realm. Kitana and Liu’s romance subplot is further exploited, which is the only comprehensible thing about what happens in the next five minutes. Raiden goes on a little self-searching trip and gets a new haircut to portray his newly granted mortality (???!!!) and Sonya goes to find Jax, who’s suddenly in some laboratory and had his arms enhanced with some cybernetic implants for no apparent reason besides some “problems with confidence”. It’s unclear how Sonya knows he’s there, and it’s even more unclear why the lab is suddenly invaded by a plastic Cyrax. It’s most unclear why I’m still watching this crap.

Cyrax’s appearance is actually a reminder of the fact that Shao Kahn’s extermination squad is on the move, looking for the survivors of Mortal Kombat. This squad features familiar characters such as Baraka, Sheeva and Motaro (the make-up effects… good lord almighty…), Sindel, Rain, Ermac and… Scorpion?! Scorpion’s always resurrected in the games, sure, but there’s simply no explanation to why he’s alive in this flick, and apparently completely unharmed! Even Sub-Zero’s appearance is questioned by Liu Kang, since he killed Sub-Zero in the previous tournament. This “Sub-Zero 2” says that Liu Kang actually killed his brother. Well, Sub-Zero and Scorpion’s appearance does not mean SHIT! Enter the first useless cameos. We’re going to see a lot more. First up’s Mileena, Kitana’s demonic twin sister from the games. When Sonya first sees her, she thinks she’s Kitana, which would make sense… if this was the game, ‘cause that chick doesn’t look ANYTHING like Talisa Soto! Then there’s Nightwolf, who exists in this movie for absolutely no reason at all. When he talks to Liu Kang about how he should find his “Animality”, you know this movie can’t end well. I’ll tell you about it later. Then Jade attacks Liu Kang, just to “test him”, she says, and later turns out a spy. Revealing her failure to Shao Kahn, she gets eaten by an unnamed, utterly ridiculous CGI monster. Poor girl. Not exactly a pretty one, though. She makes the weirdest faces in the whole movie.

While Liu’s out “searching for his Animality” – oh, God – Kitana’s in Shao Kahn and his father Shinnok’s captivity. Now it seems that this Shinnok is running the whole operation. I didn’t know anything about this character when I was a kid, since he was the final boss in both Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, which I never played, and Mortal Kombat 4, which I didn’t even notice being released at that time – I was a SNES owner. Well, Liu eventually saves Kitana, crushes Sheeva with a falling cage – another very punky death – reunites with Raiden, Sonya and Jax, and then it’s showtime. There’s a lot of mess in between, which I dare not dive into.

That's it, I'm all out of insults.
The final battle against the remains of the extermination squad and Liu’s one-on-one match with Shao Kahn is sad to watch, and not because of Raiden’s death right in the beginning of it, and right after he has made the grand revelation that Shinnok is an elder god and his father, which makes Shao Kahn his brother. OOOOOOH!!! Everyone picks an opponent, during which they realize something about themselves, most notably Jax, who fights Motaro until wearing himself out and figuring out he would do better without his implants – which Raiden told him right off the bat. What a surprise, Jax wins right after getting rid of those ridiculous pieces of plastic. It should be noted that Jax used these cybernetic implants in Mortal Kombat 3, but they were actually installed to replace his arms which Shao Kahn or some of his cohorts (Ermac in the 2011 "reboot") had ripped off from his torso in Mortal Kombat II.

Well, in the turning point of Liu vs. Shao Kahn, it seems that Liu’s going to lose, but just take a wild guess what happens next. Come on, just make that guess. Liu finds his Animality and turns into a CGI dragon. That’s it, I’m going for a smoke.

"Whoa, what was I on last night?"
From what I can see on the screen, Shao Kahn also turns into some sort of unholy beast, the two CGI blobs fight to a draw, the other elder gods capture Shinnok and force him to watch his only surviving son fight Liu Kang as a mortal. The Mortal Kombat theme hits and for one second, the movie looks and sounds at least something like the first one. Then Shao Kahn just falls down on a set of stone steps from a single punch, a huge fucking dragon bursts out of him like the alien from John Hurt’s stomach in Alien, Shinnok turns into a pile of blocks and disappears,  the world is restored to the way it was, Sindel and Raiden both suddenly “get better”, Raiden takes Shinnok’s place as an elder god, gives some parental advice to his “family”, Kitana reunites with Sindel, kisses Liu Kang and everyone’s happy. The credits roll, and I’m left wondering was what I just saw real, some cruel fantasy, or just a big, brown skidmark, a waste of perfectly fine video tape.


Like I already mentioned a few times, the soundtrack's a very mixed bag of shit, piss and Scooter, with the exception of "Techno Syndrome", that plays during the opening credits and the final battle. A horrid remix of Megadeth's "Almost Honest" plays during the end credits; what makes it even more unlistenable is the fact that even the original song really ain't one of my favourites by 'Deth.


The end, at long last.
Alongside Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a textbook example of a horrible game-to-movie adaptation, one of the reasons wise production companies think twice before giving a green light to one. You’d think a sequel to such a good movie as the first Mortal Kombat was, would be at least half decent as they already had a good flow going on, but it seems that the only flow the film makers cared about was the cash flow. Stay clear of this movie at all costs.

< RATING : 1.0 >

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