Craptastic Cinema

Celebrating The Best Of The Worst Movies

Mortal Kombat Annihilation

Year : 1997 Director : John R. Leonetti Running Time : 94 minutes Genre : ,
Movie review score

During my teenage years, I obviously was into pretty much all things that were cool at the time.  Considering that time was the early to mid 90’s, that meant I was into such things as Magic: The Gathering cards, skating around town on my RollerBlades, and going to video game arcades.  It could be argued that the 1990’s was truly the boom of the video game industry.  Almost everyone owned some sort of a home video game console.  They became as common as VCRs in every house (yeah, preDVD era ok).  In the arcades, game designers were on a role releasing hit after hit.  The most popular genre of arcade games at the time were fighting games.  Among those games, stood tall as the king daddy of them all, Mortal Kombat.  Mortal Kombat was awesome on so many levels.  It took what Street Fighter II had done, but turned up the violence factor.  There was blood, and lots of it.  You could do things like rip someone’s heart out, tear off their head, or hit them with an uppercut which made them fall into a pit of spikes.  Unheard of things in video games at that time.  It had amazing graphics, thanks to it actually using motion scanned actors as the characters in the game (a trick used in other games like Pit Fighter, Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game, and Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game).  The female characters in the game looked hot, often wearing skiimpy outfits.  On top of all of that, it was set to a kick ass techno music soundtrack.  Mortal Kombat was a teenage boy’s dream video game, and it earned many of quarters from this teenaged lover of all things Craptastic.

By 1995, Mortal Kombat had released three versions of their game (four games for the purists out there), and was about to get the live action film treatment.  History at this point had shown that movies based on video games sucked.  There had not been all that many, but they were all pretty bad.  To everyone’s surprise, Mortal Kombat was a hit movie.  It had decent acting, coherent storytelling, a small level of humor, and really good fighting scenes.  It even closed on a note that completely left it open for a sequel of it’s own.  All in all, Mortal Kombat made a great movie.  Of course they were going to make a sequel.  Sure they could not get a couple of the key actors, nor the director, to come back for the sequel, but that is ok.  They vowed to make a movie for the fans of the game and the movie alike.  They doubled the new film’s budget, and all things looked great.  Magazines showed photos of all the new characters who were going to be in the film.  One could only dream of all the amazing fight scenes we were going to be in store for.  On November 21, 1997 the world welcomed Mortal Kombat Annihilation….. and boy was it Craptastic.

Mortal Kombat Annihilation took place moments after the ending of the first film.  I would not however watch the two movies back to back for a couple reasons right off the bat.  As I mentioned before, a couple actors did not return for the sequel.  These actors are seen in the final seconds of the first film, and therefore are in the opening of this one.  Now this has happened before in movies, and I felt like it was done seamlessly too.  In Back to the Future Part II, they had to replace Claudia Wells with Elizabeth Shue as Jennifer.  Jennifer was going to be a semi large character in the sequel.  She was in the final moments of the first film, which was the set up for Part II.  To fix this problem, they simply reshot the ending of the first film, now with Elizabeth in the role, and made that the beginning of Part II.  Worked perfectly, and that was in 1989.  Did they do that in 1997?  Nope, they actually used footage from the first film with the original actors in the backgrounds.  So there is a “BOOM moment” where you kinda go “oh I guess you are Sonya Blade now” or “guess he is Raiden“.  Tell you what, you do not truly value the acting skills of Christopher Lambert until you see James Remar try to play the same role.  Another side note here, on no way shape or form is Sandra Hess an acceptable replacement for Bridgette Wilson.  Of course, they never ask my opinion on these things first.

Another thing you notice is that the movie all of a sudden looks very different from the original.  A lot of that probably has to do with the departure of Paul W.S. Anderson as director.  Paul may not be an amazing director in the grand scheme of things, but he did a great job with the first film.  He was replaced by the director of photography of the first film, and future director of a lot of crappy films, John R. Leonetti.  The differences made it lose any real connection it may have had to the original.  As I mentioned before, the budget on this sequel was doubled from that of the original.  It was hard to grasp that concept because this movie did not look that way.  Most of this movie appeared to have been shot in front of green screens, and not blended together smoothly.  Granted, this was still the early years of using CGI technology in films, and all films looked kinda cheesy at the time, but this was over the top.  Power Rangers had better looking effects than Mortal Kombat Annihilation, and that was a low budget TV series.  Hmmmm, a low budget TV show, that may explain the quality of the script and acting in this movie too.

The quality of the acting in Mortal Kombat Annihilation could be described as “made for TV movie” level at best.  It could have been the script itself.  In a quest to add as many characters from the video game series as possible, many characters have just one stupid line in the film.  Some characters just get a grunt towards the screen.  All of those moments took away from other characters that were needed to drive the plot along.  Could you imagine the dinner robbery scene in Pulp Fiction if everyone in the coffee shop was given a single moment of screen time, but in return the dialog between Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth was trimmed to allow the time to fit all the other unnecessary characters in the scene?  No you could not, nor should you ever have to.  That is what they did in Mortal Kombat Annihilation.  The times in which it is not are few and far in between, and not even worth mentioning.  The acting itself is another issue all together.  At many times it is “made for TV” for sure, but more like late night soft core film acting.  Only without the nudity.  Some of these actors must have gone to the…. William Shatner School of…. adding pauses to your….. lines!!!!  It is humorous because, at times, you get the feeling that the actor must have forgotten their line for a second, but came through in the end.  I can’t imagine how one could forget a line like “to bad you will die”, but I do not know the true pressures of acting.

I have talked a lot about aspects of the film, but up to this point I have not even touched on the plot line.  Why would that be?  Quite honestly, I have watched Mortal Kombat Annihilation several times and I could not tell you truly what the movie is about.  There is so many stupid twists and serves in this movie that it made it impossible to even care about any character or what was happening to them.  People lose their magic powers, but not really.  Bad guys are really good guys, and good are bad.  Characters who look like bad ass, die off without even a fight… NOTHING MAKES SENSE!  Even the fight scenes are pointless.  In one fight scene, it starts as a soft core make out film, but then the girl starts a fight and turns out to be bad, but then just as she is about to lose she is good again and it was all a test.  Yeah, that was worth wasting time and energy for.  The build towards the final battle is non existent.  All karate, fighting, or overcoming the odds movies have to have a build to the final confrontation.  Without a proper build, who cares who wins the final fight?  That is just the way Mortal Kombat Annihilation is, a hour and a half of “who cares?”.

On the Craptastic Scale, Mortal Kombat Annihilation gets a surprising 2 out of 5.  While the movie has many faults, those faults add a level of humor that the filmmakers did not intend.  The bad acting makes me laugh every time.  Most specifically is the character Sindel played by Musetta Vander.  She is bad to the point that if Ed Wood was still around today, you could bet that Musetta would be in all his films.  Another saving grace is the fight scenes.  While mostly pointless, they are nicely choreographed and are exciting to watch.  While Mortal Kombat Annihilation is not even close to being as good as the original film, it has became popular among younger movie watchers.  Kids seem to like this one more than the original.  Who knows, maybe years down the road my now four year old daughter will write a revised induction for this movie and consider it a cult classic.  I hope that I raise her better than that though.

-Matt Camarco

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