Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge Review: A Bloodthirsty Tale of Vengeance
Ethan Spaulding gives fans the ultra-violent and ill-mannered film they’ve been wanting to see, but was it worth the wait?
By Jay Gervais
From the shadows comes Ethan Spaulding’s Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, a feature-length animated film adaptation based on the ever-popular Mortal Kombat franchise. Unlike previous versions (excluding Simon McQuoid’s upcoming live-action film), this marks the first R-rated film to be released in the series, and you can be sure it wastes no time in delivering a heavy punch of ultra-violence and other obscenities, much to delight of franchise fans.
As you can expect by the film’s subtitle, there’s a tragic backstory behind the character of Scorpion/Hanzo Hasashi (Patrick Seitz). The brutal slaughtering of his loved ones in the film’s opening minutes sets him on a troubling path of vengeance, but not before dying and being sent to Netherrealm, which is basically another version of Hell. After fighting his way to the evil sorcerer Quan Chi (Darin De Paul), he learns through him about how his family’s killer is participating in the Mortal Kombat tournament. Hellbent on revenge and wanting to return to some form of the life he once had, he agrees to join the fight under the name of Scorpion.
Unfortunately, there’s isn’t much more emphasis on expanding Scorpion’s story beyond this. His role is seemingly reduced to paving the way for a reimagining of Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1995 live-action film, which this movie seems to shamelessly borrow ideas from. While the overall effort is by no means a carbon copy, as there are significant differences between the two, it does feel somewhat unimaginative at certain points.
Regardless of the filmmakers’ intentions, there can be little argument about how the film focuses too much of its attention on the tournament and other fighters, particularly Johnny Cage (Joel McHale), Liu Kang (Jordan Rodriques), and Sonya Blade (Jennifer Carpenter). While these characters bring their own charm and interesting embellishments to the story, it just seems like Scorpion is hanging around to sprinkle things up and help bookend the film.
For players of the video games, there’s plenty of staples from the series for you to enjoy here. This movie is filled with bloody, bone-smashing moments, fatalities, and characters who ditched their moral compass long ago. None of the film’s ensemble are exactly likable, which may or may not be intentional by design. Take Sonya, for example, a rugged soldier who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and doesn’t care if she must aggressively kick people in the nether regions to get things her way. Scorpion’s Revenge really exists in a delusional fantasy world, which is probably where it belongs anyway.
As far as the animated work is concerned, it’s adequate. The artwork style does feel rather uninspired and might have benefited from further polishing or even a darker tone. The worlds (or realms) visited in this film don’t leave much of an impression, but as far as Mortal Kombat goes, it gets the job done and fans should be satisfied. The music by John Jennings Boyd and Eric V. Hachikian is unfortunately forgettable and never really shines.
This movie is really for fans of Mortal Kombat, who get the R-rated film they’ve been waiting for as they are hypnotized by the dramatic displays of violence, foul language, and other vulgarities players of the games have come to know and expect.
In its attempt to do justice to the tournament aspect of the story, it leaves Scorpion dangling from a tree with his kunai as he waits for his next moment to interject. Generally, the characters never really make a connection with the audience as they remain undecided if they should either like or hate them. The film’s art direction is satisfactory at best and could have used some further brushing up.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge succeeds in giving fans of the video games precisely what they expect, but will alienate all those unfamiliar with the source material. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, this film is aimed at providing fan service through and through. It’s a promising beginning for what could turn into a series of films if all goes well.
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