Jul 05 2011
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
Episode 2 – Jax, Sonya, Kano
Episode 3 – Johnny Cage
Episode 4 – Kitana & Mileena
Episode 5 – Kitana & Mileena
Episode 6 – Raiden
Episode 7 – Scorpion & Sub Zero
Episode 8 – Scorpion & Sub Zero
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