“Feel your Animality!”
The Scoop: 1997 PG-13, directed by John R. Leonetti and starring Robin Shou, James Remar, Talisa Soto, and Sandra Hess
Tagline: Destroy all expectations
Summary Capsule: Any goodwill earned by the first Mortal Kombat is cashed in for a sequel that’s basically Power Rangers with a hangover.
Al’s review: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a bad movie. That’s probably not surprising to you, considering it is not only a video game movie, but a SEQUEL to a video game movie. Even in that realm of the damned, however, Annihilation stands apart as a whole different breed of suck.
See, the original Mortal Kombat is an absurd and goofy action flick that plagiarizes Enter the Dragon closely enough to get itself in deep trouble with the vice-principal. Luckily, it also happens to be fast, funny, and surprisingly clever considering the franchise’s claim to fame is the ability to rip people’s spines out. It holds a special place in my heart as it is, to date, the only movie I’ve ever watched literally five times in a row. In fact, by the time we returned the three-day rental, I had watched Mortal Kombat—I kid you not—thirteen times. That’s roughly 26 out of 72 hours that I spent by myself in front of the TV watching Bridgette Wilson bounce around in short shorts and a tank top.
Actually, I’m gonna go ahead and consider that a weekend well spent.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is also a special part of my youth. It was the first film where I recognized sitting in the theater that I was watching a total piece of garbage. It was the first film I ever mentally checked out of and began to pick apart why it was so screamingly awful. And, although I can’t verify this, I believe it is also the first film I saw bad enough that it simply begged me to make fun of it.
It begins with our heroes, Liu Kang (Robin Shou) and Princess Kitana (Bond babe Talisa Soto), returning home victorious from their battle with the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung, only to discover that all of their friends have been replaced by less talented actors. Also, Shao Kahn, the wicked Emperor of Outworld, (Brian Thompson) has set his armies loose on the Earth, despite his loss in Mortal Kombat (which totally breaks the rules of the first movie, but, well, you get used to that quick in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation). Now it’s up to Liu and his friends to beat back the evil hordes and free their planet from the tyranny of goofy-looking robots and men in pro wrestling costumes.
Liu & Co. zoom around the planet in conveniently toy-shaped Atlaspheres, and take turns making bad jokes, choking on worse dialogue, and fighting character after character after character after character. Unlike the original Mortal Kombat, which worked smoothly with ten or so Kombatants from the game, Annihilation is hell-bent on squeezing in as many MK alumni as they can find, logic and storytelling be damned. The mysterious and stereotypical Native American Night Wolf visits Liu Kang in a vision and tells him he must pass three tests if he hopes to beat Shao Kahn. Liu doesn’t actually pass all the tests before the end of the movie, but—hey, look!—it’s Night Wolf! Sheeva, the evil four-armed Goro-lady, shows up and looks all sorts of menacing before getting unceremoniously squooshed by a metal cage. Sub-Zero and Scorpion literally appear on screen, fight each other, and then disappear for the rest of the film. It’s asininity on a grand scale, up there with House of the Dead and Battlefield: Earth.
In short, this is a movie where nothing works and everything is terrible. I can’t help feeling a little bad for it, because it’s clear that the budget for Annihilation was a pretty healthy step down from its big brother and without decent effects, the movie never really stood a chance, but it doesn’t excuse the painful apathy wafting off of everyone involved. From idiotic plotlines to pitiful special effects to meandering dialogue about animal spirits and elder gods, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a spectacular failure in every way imaginable.
On the upside, though, it did teach me that ‘asininity’ is an actual word. So, y’know, points there.
- You killed off the best character from the first movie during the opening five minutes? This is NOT a way to instill optimism in your audience.
- Sandra Hess is no Bridgette Wilson, but the lady knows how to mud wrestle. Knows how to get her whites white afterwards, too!
- Maybe Liu’s animalism wouldn’t suck so badly if he had bothered to pass the third test.
- Some characters from the games, like Mileena and Noob Saibot, appear onscreen, they are never mentioned by name.
- Speaking of Atlaspheres, both Deron McBee (Motaro) and Lynn ‘Red’ Williams (Jax) are former American Gladiators.
- Dana Hee, who plays Mileena, was Kitana’s stunt double in the previous film. In the game’s storyline, Mileena is actually a clone of Kitana raised as her sister.
- Tony Jaa doubled for Robin Shou in quite a few stunt sequences.
- Michael Jai White was scheduled to play as Jax, but eventually he got the lead part in Spawn instead.
- Christopher Lambert was apparently interested in reprising Rayden but was committed to filming the craptastic Beowulf at the time.
- Sylvester Stallone reportedly turned down the role of Baraka.
- Though Musetta Vander and Talisa Soto play mother (Sindel) and daughter (Kitana) respectively, in the real life the actresses are only four years apart in age.
Shao Kahn: The Earth was created in six days; so too shall it be destroyed; and on the seventh day, mankind will rest… in peace!
Elder Water God: The fate of the universe will be decided as it should be…
Elder Fire God: …in MORTAL KOMBAT!
Rayden: Kahn, you hide behind a human?
Shao Kahn: Why not, Lord Rayden? You’ve hidden behind them your entire pathetic life!
Sonya Blade: There’s so little time left.
Kitana: Whatever time we have, we must use well.
Jax: Are we really ready to die here?
Liu Kang: If we die, we will die in battle. Together.
Rayden: Years ago, my father had agreed that his heir to the family throne must be strong enough to kill his own brother in battle if necessary. I beat my brother, but I could not kill him. Only one thing is certain; Khan must die.
Jax: [ready to fight fight Motaro] Mr. Ed is mine.
Kitana: [ready to fight Sindel] I’ll take my mother.
Sonya Blade: [ready to fight Ermac] Leftovers are fine with me!
Nightwolf: Feel your Animality!
Jax: [about Rayden] Who does this dude think he is? Moses parting the Red Sea?
Shao Kahn: You should have killed me… when you had the chance… brother.
Rayden: My brother died a long time ago. His heart, anyway.
[watching Liu Kang transform into a dragon]
Jax: Ah, now I done seen everything.
Rayden: [noticing Jax’s enhancements] What’s the deal with your arms?
Jax: I’ve known you one minute and you dissin’ me already?
Rayden: I mean no disrespect. You have real skills. Those arms aren’t your strength, they’re your weakness.
Jax: Show’s what you know, these things right here, state of the art.
Rayden: Faith in yourself is all you need…
[to the others]
Rayden: …and I say that to all of you.
Kitana: Mother… you’re alive!
Sindel: Too bad… you… will DIE!
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- Mortal Kombat
- Street Fighter
- The Sword and the Sorcerer