REVIEW: ‘Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge’

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Mortal Kombat Legends

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is a direct-to-DVD film from Warner Bros Animation. Following the brutal death of his wife and daughter at the hands of Sub-Zero (Steve Blum) and his Lin Kuei clan, Hanzo Hasashi (Patrick Seitz) seeks vengeance. In the Netherrealm, the devious sorcerer Quan Chi (Darin De Paul) strikes a deal with Hasashi. If Hasashi enters the Mortal Kombat tournament on his behalf, he can have his vengeance. Thus, Hasashi is reborn as the demonic ninja Scorpion. Meanwhile,  martial artist Liu Kang (Jordan Rodrigues), washed-up actor Johnny Cage (Joel McHale), and Special Forces officer Sonya Blade (Jennifer Carpenter) have also entered the tournament.  The thunder god Raiden (Dave B. Mitchell) says that they must win to protect Earthrealm from being conquered.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge serves as a tribute to the Mortal Kombat mythos. Writer Jeremy Adams (Supernatural, Young Justice) clearly has a deep knowledge of the Mortal Kombat video games. Hasashi’s transformation into Scorpion is lifted right from the game’s lore. There are also several nods to the 1995 animated movie, particularly with Liu Kang, Johnny, and Sonya being selected as Earthrealm’s champions by Raidenand a hook for a sequel that features another longtime Mortal Kombat villain.

Another way Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge pays tribute to the Mortal Kombat series is the buckets of blood and gore spilled. The film is rated R and for very good reason; the characters inflict often fatal blows on their opponents. Bodies are sliced into bloody, meaty chunks, bones shatter, limbs are removed in a number of creative ways. Echoing gameplay elements of the most recent installments, director Ethan Spaulding often uses an X-Ray point-of-view to show the damage being done to the victim in immensely gory detail.

Mortal Kombat Legends

Yet the gore means nothing if we aren’t interested in the characters. Luckily, Scorpion’s Revenge has very dynamic characters, including the titular Hellspawn. We are first introduced to Hanzo Hasashi as he spends the day with his son. Audiences will feel for Hasashi as he watches his family is ripped away from him. Seitz’s voice work ranges from mournful to enraged, and sometimes both at the same time. You want him to have his revenge and it feels satisfying when he ultimately succeeds.

The other standouts of the film are Rodrigues as Liu Kang and Carpenter as Sonya. Liu Kang is resolute in his desire to protect Earthrealm from being invaded. When asked how he keeps going, the young martial artist replies “I have hope.” When Liu Kang meets Scorpion, it’s interesting to see that clash in personalities. Carpenter’s Sonya is on her own quest to save her commanding officer and friend Jax (Ike Amandi). Sonya is skilled, driven, and doesn’t take crap from anybody, and Carpenter delivers that drive with every line of dialogue.

If there is a weak link in the film, it’s McHale as Cage. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad performance. Cage is a self-absorbed jerk and McHale has had plenty of experience playing that type of character, especially as Jeff Winger in Community. It’s that Cage never really leaves that persona until the final act of the film. Cage had more of an opportunity in other Mortal Kombat tales to grow more dimensions. Scorpion’s Revenge feels like a missed opportunity.

Also, while the film does feel like a love letter to the Mortal Kombat mythos, it also does feel a bit unfocused and overstuffed. Characters like Kitana, Baraka, and Reptile barely amount to more than glorified cameos. Meanwhile, the plotline to save Earthrealm is emphasized a bit more than Scorpion’s titular revenge. I feel like the film should have made Scorpion its POV character. However, the two plots do eventually converge in the film’s second half.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is an extremely violent love letter to one of the most popular video game franchises on the planet. While it could have blended its twin storylines a bit better, there is plenty of carnage and interesting characters to go around.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is currently available for digital download and will be available on DVD April 28th.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge
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    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is an extremely violent love letter to one of the most popular video game franchises on the planet. While it could have blended its twin storylines a bit better, there is plenty of carnage and interesting characters to go around.