Tag Archives: John R. Leonetti

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robin Shou as Liu Kang
Talisa Soto as Kitana
Chris Conrad as Johnny Cage
Brian Thompson as Shao Kahn
Sandra Hess as Sonya Blade
Irina Pantaeva as Jade
James Remar as Raiden
Lynn “Red” Williams as Jax
Musetta Vander as Sindel
Marjean Holden as Sheeva
Reiner Schöne as Shinnok
Litefoot as Nightwolf
Deron McBee as Motaro
Director: John R. Leonetti

Every generation, a portal opens up between the Outerworld and Earth. Emperor Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson), ruler of the mythical Outerworld, pounces the moment the portal reopens and slips through with his mighty warriors, intent on total domination and uniting the two worlds. However, he has only seven days to complete his task. In the meantime, opposition grows and warriors Sonya Blade (Sandra Hess), Jax (Lynn “Red” Williams), Kitana (Talisa Soto) and Liu Kang (Robin Shou) get ready for war.

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The first Mortal Kombat was one of the best video game movies, it was simple and goofy but entertaining enough. With that said, it wasn’t really that good of a movie. The ending of Mortal Kombat set up for a sequel and 2 years later, we got Mortal Kombat Annihilation. Somehow Annihilation dropped to a much lower level, and I mean absolutely embarrassingly bad, somehow they just made an okay movie based on Mortal Kombat and they couldn’t even just repeat what the first did. However, I’m glad that we have this movie because it is incredibly entertaining in how it gets literally everything wrong.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’s story is very generic and lazy, in fact it can barely be called a story. The first movie did vaguely have a story, even though it was really an excuse for fight scenes but it’s even less existent with Annihilation. It’s really not worth thinking about the story, its barely there and when you pay attention to what’s going on, it doesn’t make much sense. There are many scenes showing off Shao Khan’s (the villain) big army but by the end there’s like no one left except him. The dialogue is hilariously awful, now the first movie had some cheesy and bad dialogue but Annihilation takes it to a whole new level. From the point when you hear Sindel say “Too bad YOU….. WILL DIE!”, you know what kind of movie you’re in. There is so much exposition throughout the movie, there’s a fight scene, Raiden fills the characters in, then repeat. One of the criticisms of the first movie was that there were a bit too many characters. Annihilation decided to have even more characters, so you just lose track of the characters and their goals. Again, best not to think too much about what is going on. There is more fan service than in the first movie, with characters like Cyrax and Sheeva being here to serve no more than a minute doing things.

All the acting in this movie is bad. It’s worth noting that most of the cast from the first movie don’t reprise their roles, only Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and Talisa Soto (Kitana) return. Everyone else is replaced, Johnny Cage is played by Chris Conrad, Sonya Blade is played by Sandra Hess and Raiden is played by James Remar. You really feel the lack of Christopher Lambert in the role of Raiden, he was one of the best parts of the first movie, especially when it came to the acting. Raiden is also pretty useless in this movie, particularly in the third act. Other characters introduced are Irina Pantaeva as Jade, Lynn Williams as Jax, and Litefoot as Nightwolf who added nothing to the movie, unless you are die hard fans of these characters. The villains are also terrible. Shao Khan is a really over the top and goofy villain, who does pretty much all the generic villain things, killing his henchman, declaring that he will rule the world, the usual. At least he’s having a ton of fun hammy his role up. Also bad is Sindel played by Musetta Vander, also rather over the top. The casting of Sindel is really odd, considering that Vander is only like 4 years older than Talisa Soto who plays her daughter Kitana. Not that it’s one of the worst parts of the movie though, this is incredibly minor in comparison to everything else.

It’s not often that I would say this but this movie is missing Paul W.S. Anderson’s direction. At $30 million it has a higher budget than the first Mortal Kombat by $12 million and watching this movie I’m not sure where all that money went because this looks like one of the cheapest movies ever, it doesn’t even look like it has a budget of half a million. This movie looks so cheap that it straight up reused the opening animation of the first movie (and just added Annihilation to the title when it comes up). Saying that the CGI looks really fake would be underselling it, despite the budget being over twice that over the original, the visual effects have taken a complete downgrade and are just horrendous. The third act has quite possibly the worst CGI effects I have ever seen in a movie, its two monsters fighting and it’s absolutely abysmal, even if it was released in the 70s instead of the 90s it wouldn’t be acceptable. Even the green screen background parts are terrible, you can even see the white outlines around the actors. There are occasionally some actual practical backgrounds but they don’t last for long. So the effects are terrible but you’d think that maybe the action would be able to make up for it, nothing could be further from the truth. Not even the action is competent, it’s one of those action movies where the action always cuts at just the right moment when something dangerous or difficult could happen, so there are so many cuts in every fight scene. The camera work is terrible, there’s even one moment when a character wrestles with the camera to act like something is fighting him because they didn’t have the budget to actually show the other person. There’s also for some reason so many flips in this movie, and so many moments when the actors are clearly on wires, it’s like you’re watching a puppet show instead of an actual movie. With all that said, everything I just mentioned can still be very entertaining, for how incompetent and poorly made the movie is. However, if you’re trying to enjoy the movie the same way you might’ve enjoyed the first movie, you’re probably not going to have fun with it (at least in that same way).

Whereas the first Mortal Kombat is kind of enjoyable and (for lack of a better term) a guilty pleasure, this is a complete disasterpiece. Pretty much everything is awful in this movie, the lazy ‘story’, the acting, the poor action and the abysmal special effects. It’s so unintentionally incompetent and its hilarious and entertaining for it. If you can be entertained by some poorly done movies, I think you’ll have a lot of fun with it, especially if you had fun with the first Mortal Kombat movie.