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Mortal Kombat: Annihilation(1997)
Mortal Kombat is an ancient tournament where the Earth Realm warriors battle against the forces of Outworld. Liu Kang and a few chosen fighters fought and defeated the powerful sorcerer Shang Tsung, their victory would preserve the peace on Earth for one more generation. Taking place now where the first movie left off, the Earth realm warriors live a short period of peace when evil forces from another dimension come to invade and wreak havoc on Earth. They are guided by the forces of Outworld leader, Shao Kahn and his generals such as: Motaro, Rain, Ermac, Sheeva and Sindel. Now Liu Kang, Raiden, Jax, Sonya and Kitana must defeat Shao Kahn in six days before the Earth realm merges with the Outworld.
For more about Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray release, see Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 17, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, James Remar, Sandra Hess, Lynn Red Williams, Brian Thompson
Director: John R. Leonetti
» See full cast & crew
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray Review
Test your patience...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 17, 2011
As sequels go, they don't get much louder, rowdier, sloppier, uglier or more mind-numbingly awful than Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. I know Paul W.S. Anderson's original Kombat wasn't The Godfather of videogame adaptations, but it didn't deserve this. As overwhelming as it is underwhelming, it over-promises and under-delivers. As overreaching as it is underdeveloped, it over-extends and undermines everything its predecessor got right. And if those two sentences left you rubbing your head, just wait until you get a load of the migraine you'll develop twenty minutes into Annihilation. First-time feature film director John R. Leonetti's misguided cash-in not only crippled the MK film franchise, it ripped the spines out of cinephiles, tore the hearts out of B-movie addicts, and stole the souls of gamers and Kombat junkies itching for a proper sequel. Fatality, indeed.
If you're craving more meat from your Kombat stew, you'll have to look elsewhere. If you're searching for a deeper story, you'll have to dig up a sequel from a different franchise. But if you're simply hoping to see more characters from your favorite videogame series go toe-to-claw, you're in luck. Annihilation screenwriters Brent V. Friedman and Bryce Zabel up Mortal Kombat's twelve-kombatant roster to an unnecessary, unwieldy, unholy twenty-one. (And that's not even counting the hooded henchmen, palette-swapping lookalikes, and random minions eager to meet their Maker.) The gang's all here: Shaolin monk and reigning champion Liu Kang (Robin Shou), thunder god Rayden (James Remar), noble Outworld princess Kitana (Talisa Soto), evil emperor Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson), cocky movie star Johnny Cage (Chris Conrad), special forces agent Sonya Blade (Sandra Hess), ice-wielding avenger Sub-Zero (Keith Cooke), fiery hellspawn Scorpion (J.J. Perry), bionic-armed super soldier Jax (Lynn Red Williams), vindictive Outworld queen Sindel (Musetta Vander), svelte warrior Jade (Irina Pantaeva), bladed monstrosity Baraka (Dennis Keiffer), Goro stand-in Sheeva (Marjean Holden), shape-shifting Native American shaman Nightwolf (Litefoot), elder god Shinnok (Reiner Schoene), sneering centaur Motaro (Deron McBee), cybernetic shadow-dweller Smoke (Ridley Tsui Po Wah), faceless ninja #367 Ermac (John Medlen), missile-spewing cyborg Cyrax (J.J. Perry), faceless ninja #482 Rain (Tyrone Wiggins) and she-devil Mileena (Dana Hee). Whew. Choose your fighter.
From its low-rent, lycra-n-spandex cosplay costumes to its ridiculous Animalities, from its unsightly visual effects and ungodly CG to its incoherent Outworld political maneuvering, from its most hollow battles to its most ham-fisted performances, Annihilation... wait for it... annihilates the fun of the original Mortal Kombat and takes a pitiful stab at boundless locales and ferocious fights. The sort of things any franchise fan worth their mortal might would want from a sequel. Alas, Leonetti stumbles from one battle to the next without any sense of purpose or narrative cohesion, clings to the "faster, more intense" school of actor wrangling, and continually overlooks the most obvious details. (Sonya tussles with Mileena in a mud pit, rolling around on the ground as if a teenage boy's fantasies depended on it. Not two scenes later, the feisty femme looks as if she took the time to shower and change her clothes. And that's just one of many glaring gaffes the filmmaker makes.) Characters are introduced and offed indiscriminately, fights rely on clumsy wire work, telegraphed blows and choppy edits, the various ninja look as if they need a few years to grow into their suits, the film's visual effects are shabby and crude (even by '90s standards), and Leonetti's casting seems to have involved a blindfold and a copy of the LA Yellow Pages. Thompson as Shao Kahn? Dexter's dad as Rayden? Hess as Blade? Really? And don't get me started on Kahn's generals. A stick with a ping-pong ball would have been more menacing.
That said, it's easy to berate a shoddy seventh-tier sequel. Cathartic even. But every film, no matter how bad, has a camp of fans, no matter how small. If you're one of the gluttons for punishment that get a cheap thrill out of Annihilation and its lesser qualities, I get it. I do. Leonetti hurls two dozen warriors into the MK grinder (including fan-favorite fighters and a string of more obscure bosses and unlockable videogame characters), the battles are more frequent and more chaotic, plot and dialogue take a distant back-seat to action, numerous camera angles and special attacks are lifted directly from the Mortal Kombat videogames, campy craziness lurks around every sandy Outworld bend, and overacting of this caliber will always delight someone out there. I can even see where Leonetti's sequel works to address some of the weaknesses of Anderson's original. (Particularly in regards to the martial arts sequences.) But Annihilation is worse than an overindulgent videogame cutscene; the sort that sends gamers scrambling for whatever button will skip to the guts of the experience they actually paid for. Without control over the action, spotting the goofier cracks in the Mortal Kombat saga's armor is a cinch. Without pulpy gore and spattered brain matter splashing across the screen, it's difficult to see Annihilation as anything more than a pale imitation of a wickedly entertaining, M-rated videogame series. Without a much-needed sense of thumb-blistering fun, there isn't anything to enjoy in Annihilation aside from the relief that comes when the end credits finally begin to roll.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation falters further with a scarily schizophrenic 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. Colors are syrupy, skintone saturation is all over the place, black levels bobble between disastrously dark and terribly muted, contrast dips and dives from scene to scene (sometimes even shot to shot), and detail is wildly inconsistent, particularly when the film's haphazard visual effects flood the screen. Energy blasts, stormy skies, otherworldly creatures, glowing portals and every burst of mystical mayhem is cursed with debilitating eyesores and atrocious anomalies. It's enough to leave the most ardent MK zealots shaking their heads in disbelief. Severe artifacting, banding, errant noise, aliasing, ringing, bleeding, smearing and relentless crush undermine anything and everything the film's more impressive shots manage to accomplish. Granted, the majority of the prevailing problems trace back to the effects themselves -- including some of the worst CG elements to grace a theatrical release -- but the technical encode isn't much better. Even when the effects take a breather, the presentation is average at best. Ultimately, the Blu-ray release of Annihilation beats its DVD counterpart to a bloody pulp; it just never gains the upper hand over its many, many faults and flaws.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is better, but only by a moderate margin. Brash and blaring, it favors blunt-force trauma over precision, raw volume over consistency, unhinged chaos over controlled clarity, and LFE carpet-bombing over more refined low-end power. Dialogue, despite being clean and clear on the whole, is often consumed in the ensuing sonic firestorm. Rear speaker activity, as aggressive as it is at times, lacks nuance and accuracy. And the subsequent soundfield, though enveloping, isn't convincing, satisfying or truly immersive. Still, those who enjoy Annihilation and its big, dumb, rubber-fisted fun will appreciate its big, dumb, head-cracking lossless mix.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Annihilation doesn't offer much more than a theatrical trailer (SD, 2 minutes) and a videogame preview (HD, 1 minute). A code is included that allows gamers to unlock a bonus costume in the PS3 version of Midway's upcoming MK reboot, but it unlocks the same classic Jade costume as the one included in the Blu-ray release of Anderson's original Mortal Kombat.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I know, I know. Tell us how you really feel. I hated Mortal Kombat: Annihilation when it first hit theaters in 1997 and I despise it even more now. There isn't much more I can say than that. Warner's Blu-ray release didn't earn any affection from me either. While its DTS-HD Master Audio track embraces the film's battered and bruised banality with commendable strength, its video transfer is an absolute mess and its supplemental package offers little more than a pair of trailers. Skip this disemboweled sequel and stick with the original.
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Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray Announced - February 4, 2011
Warner Home Video has announced Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation for Blu-ray release on April 19 (separately, not in a double-feature SKU). With the purchase of either title, you can receive a voucher code for a free exclusive Jade character costume ...
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