Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
Director: John Leonetti
Stars: Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Sandra Hess
With the first Mortal Kombat a surprise (considering the bad track record of video game-to-movie translations) hit, it was only inevitable that there would be a sequel. After vanquishing Shang Tsung in the first film, Liu Kang (Shou) and his buddies think the world is safe. But quicker than you can say "merchandising tie-in," evil overlord Shao Kahn opens a portal to Earth and the tournament begins again.
A good rule of thumb for sequels is to see if the original director came back. Usually if he/she doesn't, it means the sequel will suck. A good case in point is MK:A. Mortal Kombat director Paul Anderson wisely decided not to accept the duties for this film (opting for the much better Event Horizon instead), so the studio "wisely" decided to give the director's chair to Leonetti, who was the cinematographer for the first film. The result (as one might expect from a first-time director) is a horrible mish-mash of a film that's barely recognizable as a sequel to the first.
For starters, the script is just horrible. Ed Boon and John Tobias (the original designers of the game) for some godforsaken reason were given the job of writing the script for the movie. Boon and Tobias may be able to create a great video game, but they sure as hell can't write a screenplay. MK:A suffers from what I like to call "porno movie pacing," where there's a few minutes of plot exposition followed by an action scene, then a bit more plot, another action scene, etc. This is a problem common in many action movies, but it is so apparent in MK:A, it's almost laughable. I say "almost" because the plot is so bad that characters come and go within a few minutes, never to be seen again. Even the returning characters like Liu Kang are given almost no development in the film, and some are referred to by name only. All this only angers fans of the game and confuses people who aren't. At any rate, it makes for bad storytelling.
This might be forgivable if the fight sequences were any good, but they're not. All of the "fighters" (I believe Shou is the only one with some formal martial arts training; I guess that's why he was made fight co-ordinator on the set) are stiff as hell and it's quite obvious a lot (and I mean a lot) of camera tricks were used to "enhance" their skills. When the crew runs out of ideas near the end of the film, some really bad CGI is put to use to try and add some excitement to the tired fighting action. Combined with the atrocious acting "skills" of the actors, the fight sequences become almost painful to watch.
Big fans of the video game may want to check this out as a curiosity piece -- otherwise, stay way from this clunker. Aside from the "babe factor" of Soto (one of the few actors to return from the first) and Hess (replacing Bridgette Wilson as Sonya, something that caused one of my buddies much pain and suffering) and a good soundtrack, there's really no reason to watch this movie.
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