Jul 05 2011

Mortal Kombat Legacy Fails to Live Up to Its Promise

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Video Games,Videos

I’ve been following the development of Mortal Kombat Legacy since it started out as an incredibly impressive YouTube short that set the internet on fire. Actors I recognize? Playing Mortal Kombat characters in a realistic and bloody way with an actual intriguing plot? I’m sold.

I was going to let the series play out and go watch it all at once, and now I’ve found the time to do just that. How would the concept stretch into an entire web series? Could it possibly live up to that first video?

This is a combination review/showcase, where I discuss my thoughts on the series, and then you can watch them all and judge for yourself. They appear to have been on hiatus since the end of May, and I’ve no clue when or if more will be released.

The fact is, none of these actually do compare to the premise of the original video, which suspiciously, I can no longer find anywhere on the internet. The original eight minute spot that started it all has been wiped from the web, and doesn’t even show up on the official Mortal Kombat Legacy YouTube page. I’m sure someone can hunt it down, but why would the creator delete it? Just because he was forced to backtrack on a few plot points?

The web series got greenlit by Warner Bros, so maybe they wanted the original gone for some reason. Or maybe they just didn’t want to remind us how awesome the first video was, and how these new ones don’t live up to it.

These aren’t bad, not by a long shot. For a web series, the production values are generally pretty great, and the fighting is well choreographed and there’s an acceptable level of violence, even if none of the sequences compare to the brutality and authenticity of the original Baraka/Cage fight in the pilot. The problem is, the core concept has been lost. This was supposed to be a completely unique reinterpretation of the Mortal Kombat series, inserting the characters into a gritty and realistic world. But the only characters who exist in said world are in the first three episodes with Jax and Sonya raiding a Kano weapons compound, and Johnny Cage and his downward career sprial.

What happened to cool shit like this?

But all the others? Shao Kahn, Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Raiden, Scorpion and Sub Zero? It’s just like a live action retelling of their origin stories, and the plot is every bit as mystical and preposterous of that of the original game. I’m sorry, but the Mortal Kombat plot is, and has always been, stupid. One realm is trying to invade earth realm and there’s a giant fighting tournament to decide the fate of the universe. Pretty damn dumb, and it just can’t make for a compelling or gripping story.

And in Legacy, none of these character’s stories have anything at all to do with each other, as is the case in most fighting games. If this series keeps going, I assume they might collide, but any plotline that forces government agents, an ex movie star, rival ancient ninja clans, and interdimensional beings together is going to be idiotic. It’s fine for a fighting game, whose plots are supposed to be ridiculous, but not for a movie, and not for a web series either.

There are times where the director tries to go off the script and inject a bit of innovation into things like he promised with his first short. He has an episode where Raiden is zapped to earth, but unfortunately lands in the backyard of a mental institution. He’s heavily sedated and lobotmized multiple times, but still maintains he’s the god of thunder. A halfway decent concept, but one not executed properly, and the director even has to have a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode that this was “his interpretation” of Raiden’s story. Dude! That was the whole point of this project! A new interpretation of EVERYONE’S stories! Why can’t Shao Kahn be a syndicated crime boss and Kitana his conflicted and deadly daughter? Why can’t Sub Zero and Scorpion be international assassins and Baraka and Reptile be  serial killers like they were in the original pilot? Why do we have to still have all this mystical realms and magical power bullshit?

Yes, because I wanted Baraka to be a freaking Orc.

But that’s what we get. Mortal Kombat Legacy is just a live action (and sometimes inexplicably animated) version of existing Mortal Kombat stories, which though they look cool, really add nothing to the universe or change it in any significant way. I’m not sure if this was Warner Bros. at work or if the director just ran out of ideas, but the promise of the vanished pilot has been completely lost in this web series that is too faithful to the source material for its own good.

Watch for yourself below. Probably clocks in at about 60-70 minutes total.

(Update) Pilot: AHA! I found it. I ripped it to JoBlo way back when it first came out, and no one ever hunted it down to destroy it. See how much better it is?

Episode 1 – Jax, Sonya & Kano

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s6UiEuCYXA

Episode 2 – Jax, Sonya, Kano

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTSEa–Alkw

Episode 3 – Johnny Cage

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqlaU5OMsks

Episode 4 – Kitana & Mileena

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIFbGNqs0JQ

Episode 5 – Kitana & Mileena

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4QRSbf9H5M

Episode 6 – Raiden

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tWh4Z42SJk

Episode 7 – Scorpion & Sub Zero

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5Wnc8OyUj0

Episode 8 – Scorpion & Sub Zero

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQv-kYsclSM





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11 responses so far

  • http://www.afternoontiger.com Dimitrios

    I thought the pilot sucked. Killing off my favorite character didn’t help of course. But I really have always hated stories in fighting games. So maybe I would always anything depicting these stories.

    My beef is games that have progressive story lines sometimes kill off character. Sure sometimes they replace that character with a clone but sometimes they don’t. Please stop killing off my favorite fighters for the integrity of your stupid fighting game story.

  • Dzuksi

    I like it. The full potential has never been reached, but i appreciate that someone is actually going in right direction.

    I love MK because of his demons, mystic ninjas and androids. I like magic and i like setting. Sure the plot of the game is dumb fun, but it’s fun.

    What i didn’t like about this webisodes is run time – approximately 5-7min to episode doesn’t give you much place for developing story. But the director did his best to work with it.

    Also i liked Raiden story and the one with Scorpion and Sub Zero.

    I think that second season could be great with big focus on tournament and fights. But the producers would need to give give bigger budget and longer run time in order to work.

    If it keeps like this.It will became monotone – quickly.

    Also

    There will be final episode (ep. 9) with Cyrax and Sektor. Director himself said it’s his best episode.

    However it will air on Comic-Con first – then youtube.

  • ioaki

    I like the show but I can understand where your coming from but i think they r waiting to introduce all the characters before they introduce the whole plot. i kinda like the back story of the characters but it seems to me that they are taking to long to get to the big picture. i am a bit upset as well about changing the way baraka looks, i thought it was bad ass the way they made him look in the pilot. it seems that was just made 2 bring out this idea and now it looks like the creators are trying to stay too true 2 the original back stories instead of trying to portray it the way they did in the pilot. i guess when everyone is introduced it’ll b alot better

  • Andy

    Do a youtube search for Mortal Kombat Rebirth. Is that what you’re referring to?

  • FrAnk

    Yeah Andy. For sure that’s what he meant. I knew that original short had a name that was not legacy but I couldn’t recall at the moment. Seemed pretty unlikely it would have been eradicated from the ENTIRE INTERNET

  • jandhyde

    1) No one ever attempted to eradicate it from the internet. If you Google “Mortal Kombat Rebirth,” the actual name of the video, the search will return several copies of the video.

    2) From the very beginning we were told season one would not be part of the Rebirth video and would be the origin stories of the characters and why they get involved with the tournament.

    3) The reason the supernatural and mysticism are part of the story is because Ed Boon, co-creator of Mortal Kombat, said Rebirth crossed the line in terms of re-imagining. From day one Tancharoen said Legacy would be set in a more supernatural universe. Tancharoen isn’t the only producer so he can’t do everything he wants. He has to take into account what Ed Boon and Warner Bros. say should happen.

  • Adam

    I didn’t like the Raiden one. This is supposed to be a God who is going to enter a fight to the death tournament and he can’t even get out of a mental institution. This version of the character would lose his first match.

  • http://allyouneedtoknow.org/ Ryan @ All You Need To Know

    It looks like it has the potential to be a really sick movie all together. I see what you are saying though …they could have taken a whole different approach on the story instead of making it pretty much the same as the original.

    I think the storyline for the new one could use some change …I do like that they upped the graphics on subzeros frost :). other than that …I think they should have had Tony Jaa play Liu Kang …that would have been the business!

    Anyways …good post. Ill be checking back soon to see what else you have up on your website.

    Ryan @ allyouneedtoknow.org

  • ChrisP

    The Raiden episode was the realism w/ hints of mysticism he wanted in the whole series and sort of displayed in Rebirth (hence why he wrote that)..

    However Warner Bros. and the creators wanted to tie in with the new game and keep it based in its original mythos (plenty of articles and interviews with the Director talking about this online). I actually enjoyed the series though and am excited for the final episode!

  • CJ

    I will never understand people like the reviewer.

    I can see his point, but here’s what I find baffling:

    If you find the original, basic idea of Mortal Kombat idiotic, then why would you keep yourself updated on it?

    It’s like saying hey, I personally thought Twilight was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, but oh I sure do hope they do a reboot where instead of fangs they shoot lasers out of their eyes (I don’t know much about Twilight).

    Twilight IS what it IS because of, well, what it IS. And if they DID come up with a genius new plot and could reboot it in an awesome way, I wouldn’t WANT them to reboot it; what they COULD do instead is just create a NEW f*&#ing movie/story/whatever.

    And that’s exactly what I thought when I saw Tancharoen’s original fake trailer; if you have this great idea, change it and make something original, the world has enough freaking reboots and retcons and sh*t. But there’s always room for something new and original!

    In any case, I’m glad Tancharoen went the way he did with the series, cuz hell, Mortal Kombat is what it is.

  • Alan

    I love it!good job on the casting, the stories and costumes,I did wish it could’ve been at least 30 min episodes but i just started watching so i guess there is a good reason(maybe). The stories are more of the writers own but they kinda make sense and it flows good. I just hope that they keep the story like they done so far and much people will come to like it, we all seen what has happen when hollywood takes our favorite fighting games and make them into big disapointments, but honestly i really see this series with more potential than those movies ever did. Where would you find someone saying-“well I think street fighter the story of chun li movie was better”or “WOW did you watch the King of Fighters movie!?it was awsome!”…yeah my thoughts exactly.So just admit that they did a good job and it could’ve been far more worse,so i would rate it 9 out 10.

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