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Here at Four Horsemen Films, we're dedicated to some of the very best and worst cinematic masterpieces you know, love, and despise. Think of us as Bad Movies for Bad People, or as a liaison to the inner sanctum of cinema. Or, just think of us as quick and entertaining reads. That's what Four Horsemen Films is all about.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Written By: Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel (Screenplay), John Tobias & Ed Boon (Characters)

Directed By: John R. Leonetti

Starring: Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Irina Pantaeva, James Remar

Country of Origin: United States of America

The Idea:
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation sucks out loud. I feel it is only necessary to explain in the very first paragraph of this entire review that this sequel to a video game movie is one of the worst examples of film making in history. The acting is terrible, the stunts are pretty awful, and just the general filmmaking techniques are stale, repetitive, and, to be honest, fucking nauseating. If this movie were a baby, the mother would have aborted it long before the birthing process began. All this aside (and that’s a lot to put aside), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is still highly entertaining due mostly to its incredible awfulness.

The film picks up where the first one left off, but this time, the majority of the cast (save for Robin Shou and Talisa Soto) has been recast in an effort to cut costs. Make a note of that, it won’t be the first cost cutting measure we experience. Hitting the ground running, MK:A makes quick work of Johnny Cage as the movie’s first casualty while his friends literally stand by and watch the newly re-uh, reincarnated (?) Emperor Shao Kahn reign down hellfire and brimstone upon Earth. As Raiden (now James Remar) rapidly explains (and again, I do mean rapidly, this plot moves faster than the bowels of Professor Farnsworth), the realms are merging despite Liu Kang’s victory in the tournament in the first film. I state this now for future reference: in order to even halfway understand this clusterfuck, you will have had to watch the first Mortal Kombat.

The following 90 minutes that you, me, and every other hapless sap watching this movie are spent questioning exactly why we watch in the first place. For the second time in as many movies, we utilize a rapid transit wormhole to get around from realm to realm, which officially makes this my second bowel movement joke in as many graphs. I may want to consider slowing down. God damn it, I miss Goro.

Shao Kahn’s reemergence is seen as a major threat by the Elder Gods, even though his father and former Elder Shinnok has helped him rebuild his empire. Kahn (whose costume is way off from the game mind you, Kahn was never a baldy), plans to take down all of the human fighters, and he’s using Sindel, Kitana’s mother, to do it. Seems simple enough. On his side are generals and extermination squads, each of which is led by another familiar MK character. Why look: Motaro, Sheeva, Ermac, and yes, Rain all help to pioneer this hostile takeover. Too bad Kahn is merciless, as Rain lasts all of three lines before Kahn hammers him into a fiery pit of despair.

Meanwhile, back in, uh, some realm, Liu Kang is searching for Nightwolf to channel his “Animality” so he can fight Kahn and his armies and reacquire Kitana (who was captured by Scorpion after a battle with Sub-Zero and cyber-ninja Smoke), and of course, save the world. Liu is intercepted by Jade, a traitorous ninja out for trouble. However, she is of some use when Liu meets back up with Raiden (now a mortal fighter), Sonya Blade, and Jax, all of whom had just escaped Mileena and another cyber-ninja, Cyrax.

Having trouble keeping up? Good. You should be completely lost by this point and you likely have also lost three-dozen brain cells in the process. The fact of the matter is this: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation sacrificed any shred of plot, dialogue, acting, and dignity it garnered in the first movie and instead overloaded the film with every character to that time and fight scenes that were often dull and repetitive. Stop me if I neglected to mention Baraka’s three minute fight, or the fact that Stryker and Kabal were killed before the movie started, making them so insignificant they don’t even get screen time. Even Noob Saibot has a walk on appearance (and unfortunately, he doesn’t do something characteristic of a real Noob).

Eventually, the “real” plot of the film becomes evident as Raiden professes teamwork and communication over strength and force. And hey, that’s pretty much how good defeats evil in this sequel. We learn that its all about teamwork, communication, and Liu Kang’s ability to transform into a giant, hideous dragon to take down the Emperor. I may have neglected to mention that, but if you’re like me, once you saw yet another poor special effect (only about number 3,578 to that point in the movie) you simply threw your remote in the air and waited for it to concuss this film out of your memory. Feel your Animality!

Member of the crew that should’ve been fired: How about the film editor, director of photography, producer, and anyone else involved with the final cut of this movie. In a sequence that best exemplifies why they sucked at their jobs so much, Rain is disposed of in a nasty fashion when Shao Kahn “hammers” him into a fire pit. Later in the film, Baraka, an ugly, clawed character finds himself falling off of a chain and into the same fire pit. Guess what? Despite huge differences in costuming and appearance, the same clip of this death is shown for both guys. Like anyone (read: everyone) would notice.

Best Name in the Cast: James Remar is definitely the best name in the cast, this despite his horrible portrayal of Raiden. Just once I wished he channeled the spirit of his long departed character in The Warriors and exclaimed at Liu Kang: “Dammit, Liu! You’re all acting like a bunch of faggots!”

Quote of the Film:
“SUCKERS!!!” -Scorpion, because, come on, it’s Scorpion.

Final Thoughts: How is it all entertaining? Well, within all of the fighting, plot holes, and continuity errors, this movie serves as a wonderful example of how NOT to make a cinematic masterpiece. Let it be a lesson to all you young up and comers out there that if you want to create something people will remember for years to come, make sure its for the right reasons. Thank God I’m a Mortal Kombat enthusiast, because if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be able to relay this message to you. I’d simply sit here, and review a movie that had way too many characters, errors, and CGI malfunctions. Oh wait, I just did that. Whoops.

1 comment:

Madame Hook. said...

I have to admit, I LOVED Mortal Combat until I saw Annihilation. Even at the tender age of 9, I felt like I could do a better job than than the art department. Until then, I thought it was possible to wormhole between worlds and be a total badass. But after watching half assed acting and then those PLECH special effects, I gave up. Why would I want to go to a crap looking new world?

Overall, very accurate review.