Mortal Kombat Movies, TV Shows, and Other Weirdness


 

One factor I learn on-line usually sufficient when Mortal Kombat’s story is introduced up is, “Wait, Mortal Kombat has a narrative?” Or extra particularly, “Wait, individuals care about Mortal Kombat’s story?”

Of course they do. Haven’t you been paying consideration? Long earlier than the video games began that includes cinematic story modes (first seen in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe), the franchise has been stretched out to almost all types of media. Its martial arts grindhouse mythology has been seen in comedian books, films, TV, and extra.

The unique tie-in got here in comedian ebook kind. I’ve talked about Mortal Kombat comics at size earlier than, so right here’s the gist of it. The first two video games had one-shot prologues that you possibly can order off the arcade machines, written and drawn by collection co-creator John Tobias. Over the years, they’d do the identical sort of gimmick for Mortal Kombat 4 (the console model), Mortal Kombat: Deception, and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

Meanwhile, throughout 1994 and 1995, Malibu Comics launched a bunch of Mortal Kombat comics that very loosely adopted the occasions of the primary two video games. Rather than a streamlined story, it passed off over the course of assorted miniseries and one-shots. They have been fairly dangerous, although nonetheless a step up from Malibu’s try at a Street Fighter collection.

DC Comics launched a Mortal Kombat X prequel comedian that each arrange the sport’s story and killed off a handful of fellows who would not present up within the video games regardless (Hsu Hao, Kintaro, Reiko, Havik). The collection ended with a cliffhanger (involving Kenshi being kidnapped by an armless Goro), hoping for an additional quantity, however that by no means got here to go. Still, occasions from the comedian have been referenced in Mortal Kombat 11.

Okay, so comics are out of the best way. What else?

Well, again once they have been readying the console variations of the primary sport, they launched a particular album. Mortal Kombat: The Album wasn’t the sport’s soundtrack or something so easy. In actuality, it was a ridiculous set of techno tracks by a gaggle known as the Immortals who put collectively varied songs concerning the characters within the sport. Everyone and their mom is aware of about “Techno Syndrome,” in any other case generally known as the sport’s theme track, however all the opposite tracks have been utterly batshit.

Most notable, in my view, is this glorious, haunting track concerning the Chinese ninja warrior Sub-Zero.

It took me years to understand he was saying, “Warrior with a mask,” and never, “Why do you wear that mask?” Not that one is all that significantly better than the opposite.

There have been loads of commercials for the video games over time, however the advert for the console model of Mortal Kombat II is the place it’s at. It was put collectively by David Anderson and Bob Keen (director of Lost World). While it doesn’t have any extra narrative than, “game characters meet up and fight each other,” it’s some of the badass issues completed with the collection and makes you would like the flicks might have seemed extra prefer it. Check it out.

In 1995, a novel was launched by Jeff Rovin identified merely as Mortal Kombat. I personally have learn it, however that was over 20 years in the past, so my reminiscence is shoddy. The ebook was a prequel to the primary sport, that includes many of the roster and some names from the second sport (I do know Baraka confirmed as much as sacrifice some poor sap at one level). A giant chunk – in all probability too large a bit – was devoted to telling the story of the unique Kung Lao and the way he gained the primary match after which received dethroned by Goro. Otherwise, it takes place a couple of 12 months earlier than the primary sport, telling the story of Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Raiden, and Scorpion working collectively towards Shang Tsung, Goro, Kano, and Sub-Zero.

Sadly, Johnny Cage didn’t get talked about even as soon as.

The solely bizarre factor I recall concerning the ebook was Scorpion’s backstory. Since the sport’s lore had but to call him Hanzo Hasashi, the novel defined him as being Yong Park, a Lin Kuei ninja who left the clan and was punished by having Sub-Zero chop him up with a katana. Then his ghost merged along with his grownup son Tsui Park and so they grew to become Scorpion.

learn extra: Ranking All the Mortal Kombat Characters

1995 was when the primary film got here out, however earlier than that got here Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins. It was put collectively by Threshold Entertainment, fittingly the identical individuals who gave us Foodfight!, the infamously dangerous animated film about grocery mascots. As a free VHS rental at video shops, the animated prelude was a strategy to promote the brand new film. It retold the occasions of the primary third of the film, solely with way more exposition and a lot of terrible animation.

Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage all meet up on a ship, solely they’re utilizing the designs from the sport, which means Liu and Johnny by no means put on shirts. Sub-Zero and Scorpion assault them till Raiden exhibits as much as ward them off and by no means shuts up for twenty minutes. He tells all of them the tales of Kung Lao preventing Goro, Goro killing his brother, Sub-Zero killing Scorpion, and Shang Tsung killing some random dude.

While the principle story was proven in 2D with tons and plenty of reused animation (to the purpose of including gradual movement with a view to make it look contemporary at occasions), the flashbacks have been completed by way of CGI. 1995 CGI animation wasn’t a fairly sight (cue indignant Reboot followers within the feedback) and this was no exception. While the movement seize was effective, every part nonetheless seemed like dangerous Sega Saturn cutscene footage.

Finally, we received Mortal Kombat: The Movie, directed by Paul WS Anderson. People have plenty of differing opinions on this one, however I completely like it. It’s flawed to the gills, however it so totally embraces the campy mythology of what makes up the sport while you get previous the blood and guts and not-quite-as-good-as-Street-Fighter gameplay. It understood the ridiculousness of the video games and didn’t attempt to be one thing else. That’s why individuals continuously confer with it as probably the greatest – or presumably solely good – online game adaption.

Part of it comes from how a lot enjoyable everybody was having with it. There are so many nice performances which have since turn into iconic for a number of the characters. Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage acts as our window by continuously making reference to how ridiculous every part is whereas powering by means of regardless. Trevor Goddard as Kano was so great for a way little he appeared that they ended up retconning Kano into being Australian within the video games themselves. Christopher Lambert’s Raiden added a loving smirk to every part occurring. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s Shang Tsung chewed virtually all of the surroundings. Goro, created with animatronics and voiced by Kevin Richardson, was a delight to look at.

Then there was Scorpion’s hand snake. That was odd.

Two years later, we received the sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, directed by John R. Leonetti and…hoo boy. The first 5 minutes have been the one time I’ve ever thought-about strolling out of a film in my total life. The first film was based mostly on the primary sport, which itself borrowed rather a lot from Enter the Dragon. The second film was based mostly on the third sport, which had a whole mess of a storyline.

It didn’t assist that the nice forged and characters from the primary film have been lengthy gone. Robin Shou as Liu Kang and Talisa Soto as Kitana have been the one ones to return. Kano, Shang Tsung, and Goro have been already killed. Sonya and Raiden have been recast. Johnny Cage was each recast and killed throughout the first couple of minutes.

It was tacky, however with out something holding it collectively to make it good on any stage. Characters from the video games would simply present up, do one thing, then go away and by no means be talked about once more. Dialogue, appearing, and most positively particular results have been worse than earlier than. The humorous factor is, the film initially had a stinger to advertise a 3rd film the place Shinnok and Quan Chi have been going to plot towards the heroes. Knowing {that a} sequel wasn’t within the realm of risk, they properly left that on the slicing room flooring.

Probably the perfect factor to come back out of that sequel was the official web site, the place one of many individuals concerned within the film went on this enormous, determined, but smug rant about how followers ought to assist preserve the film from bombing by seeing it a number of occasions. As defined, they tossed in a bunch of random crap from the video games with zero context out of affection and subsequently the film is nice. Years later, persons are nonetheless laughing and cringing at this cry for assist.

Speaking of laughing and cringing, it’s time to debate Mortal Kombat: The Live Tour. Diving headfirst into the kiddy crowd, the franchise lent its identify to a 1995 tour throughout America the place individuals received to see a dwell stage present crammed with martial arts, flipping, lasers, and smoke machines. The story needed to do with a number of the heroes rescuing their associates from Shao Kahn’s clutches and who is aware of what else.

I’ve by no means been to one of many exhibits myself and it’s one thing that can perpetually hang-out me. All I’ve to go on is footage like this.

Oof.

In the tail finish of 1996, we received Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, a Saturday morning cartoon collection with an animation fashion that appeared to be attempting somewhat too exhausting to be Batman: The Animated Series. It acted as a follow-up of kinds to the primary film, the place the crew of Raiden, Liu Kang, Kitana, Sonya, Jax, Sub-Zero, Stryker, and Nightwolf all frolicked in a high-tech cave and watched out for otherworldly invaders. It was fairly crappy, however not the worst factor on the market. If something, the episode the place Shang Tsung was resurrected was legitimately good.

There have been a number of notable issues concerning the present. It gave us the very first look of Quan Chi in any media, together with the video games. Kurtis Stryker was voiced by Ron Perlman whereas Luke Perry performed Sub-Zero. But essentially the most attention-grabbing factor concerning the present was that it’s the closest factor we have now to an official crossover between Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.

And no, Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t count. That wasn’t actually Kano.

On USA, the channel that aired both animated shows, they had a big crossover thing about a guy called the Warrior King. He would appear in various cartoons (also including Savage Dragon and Wing Commander) in an overarching story that links them all together. While the character also appeared throughout an episode of Street Fighter, they were a bit more subtle in the Mortal Kombat tie-in by having it revolve around the Warrior King’s mystical orb and not the character himself. So yeah, while Capcom and NetherRealm may never see eye-to-eye and give us a real Ryu vs. Scorpion fight, at least there’s this roundabout meeting between the two franchises.

Defenders of the Realm lasted a mere 13 episodes in the end with the finale being a cliffhanger. In it, Shao Kahn was dethroned in Outworld, but then Shang Tsung and Sheeva went to war over who would take over while the heroes had no choice but to flee for safety.

Mortal Kombat would return to television in 1998 with Mortal Kombat: Conquest. The live-action series acted as a prequel, taking place in-between the original Kung Lao defeating Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat tournament and his fatal loss to Goro. In other words, it took place roughly 500 years ago, making it easier on the budget. Kung Lao hung out with his buddies Siro and Taja (played by Terminator 3‘s Kristanna Loken). It featured a lot of Mortal Kombat characters who were old enough to appear back then, such as Raiden, Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung, Quan Chi, Kitana, Mileena, Reptile, and Noob Saibot. Otherwise, there were some legacy characters like earlier incarnations of Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and the Black Dragon.

It was your usual second-rate Hercules/Xena fare. Less-than-stellar fight choreography, bad acting, awful special effects, and try-hard sexuality. If anything, at least Jeffrey Meek did well enough in his double role as both Raiden and Shao Kahn. His Kahn skull mask was pretty cool and made it more annoying that Kahn in Annihilation only wore it for one scene.

Being late-90s and being shown on TNT, a couple of episodes had guest appearances by WCW wrestlers Meng and Wrath. It also had an appearance by pre-famous Eva Mendes.

Much like its animated brother, Mortal Kombat: Conquest lasted a single season and also ended on a cliffhanger. This one stuck out a lot more, considering the final moments had all the good guys killed and Shao Kahn standing tall. I guess he didn’t need Goro after all. Whoops.

For years, Mortal Kombat stayed out of the public spotlight and all we had were rumors that someone was trying to make a third movie, which never seemed to go anywhere. The most we got for a while was Scorpion (voiced by Ed Boon) making a cameo appearance on Comedy Central’s animated reality show Drawn Together. The gag was that they were doing auditions for replacement housemates and Scorpion tried out. Xandir, a Link pastiche, was happy to see another video game character and…

You know what? I’m just going to let the clip speak for itself.

Huh. Didn’t know Scorpion was Jewish.

In 2010, just prior to the announcement of Mortal Kombat 9, a video was released on YouTube called Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. Created by Kevin Tancharoen, the short film acted as an introduction to a rebooted take on the series. There’s no Outworld or fight to save Earthrealm or anything so fantastic. It’s a gritty, down-to-earth reimagining about a crime lord in Deacon City and his circle of psychopaths in some underground fight club.

In it, we get Jackson Briggs (Michael Jai White) informing captured assassin Hanzo Hasashi (Ian Anthony Dale) about Shang Tsung’s activities, the reimagined identities of Reptile and Baraka, the death of actor-turned-informant Johnny Cage, and how if Hanzo enters the tournament and kills the bad guys for them, he’ll get a chance to kill his longtime rival Sub-Zero. It’s a pretty inventive take on the mythos, reminding me of Marvel’s Noir comics from around the same time.

That ultimately led to two seasons of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, a YouTube series on Machinima that also reimagined the series, but in a way that meets the concept halfway. While certain characters are given a more relatable redesign, it’s still about Outworld’s invasion and we get stuff involving Kitana and Mileena backstory as ancient assassins for Shao Kahn and Raiden being an actual god.

Once again, it ended on a cliffhanger that never got to be finished, mainly focusing on Liu Kang’s descent into being Shang Tsung’s lapdog. Otherwise, the tournament wasn’t really so much a tournament as it was basically Hunger Games with Kung Lao, Stryker, Johnny Cage, and Kenshi running around on an island.

There was supposed to be another season of episodes called Mortal Kombat X: Generations, but whether or not iit was supposed to tie into the Legacy series is hard to say. Casper Van Dien reprised his role as Johnny Cage, but it focuses more on the events leading into Mortal Kombat X than whatever was going on in Legacy. Before we even knew anything about Mortal Kombat X, a cast list for Generations was leaked onto the internet, revealing character descriptions for the likes of Takeda, Erron Black, and Kung Jin.

Apparently, while the whole thing had been filmed, it was never released in any capacity and the only thing close to footage is one or two behind-the-scenes photos.

With Mortal Kombat once again a big enough name, we’re FINALLY set for another movie. Currently set for a March 5, 2021, the new Mortal Kombat movie is produced by James Wan and directed by Simon McQuoid. It will be rated R and it’s already begun filming. So far confirmed characters include Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Raiden, Mileena, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Jax, Kano, Shang Tsung, and Nitara. Wow, somebody remembers Nitara?

Now if they could just give us a new techno soundtrack, that would be just super.

Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and thinks we’re long overdue for a bonkers Killer Instinct movie. Read more of his articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L

Read and obtain the Den of Geek NYCC 2019 Special Edition Magazine proper right here!

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