Mortal Kombat: Legacy – A Kritique
In three month’s time, Mortal Kombat: Legacy has taken YouTube by storm. What started as a shadow project transformed into Kevin Tancharoen’s vision made fulfilled and realized. Thousands witnessed the resurrection of many favorite characters brought back into the live action fold, but was it all a good idea? Here we take an in-depth look into each of the Legacy’s episodes to draw our final conclusion.
Episode 1 – 2: Jax, Sonya, and Kano
A wise decision on Tancharoen’s part to have things start off with an origin story of the infamous adversary trio. The story may have been short and sweet, but it was enough to give viewers a taste of things to come (i.e. Lin Kuei’s Cyber Initiative, Jax’s arm upgrades). Aside from the tense gunfights, the bad ass martial art skills of Michael Jai White and Darren Shahlavi not only did well to entertain, but to solidify what can be expected of the series’ awesome choreography. The same can be said regarding the special effects and gore. Case in point: Kano’s trademark eye implant operation.
However, being that the escapade was split into two parts, viewers voiced their concerns about the episodes’ general length. When you set the bar for the kind of intrigue the crew has yield, ten minutes just isn’t enough. The subject of duration would become a hot topic, and the ingrown hair in the series, for the rest of its run.
Episode 3: Johnny Cage
In maintaining the series’ modern realism, Tancharoen introduced us to a more understandable Johnny Cage – an actor who’s down on his luck as today’s demands of martial arts flicks have diminished, lest a hot female gets casted somewhere in the mix.
The original trailer for Rebirth showed us the death of Matt Mullins in this role, but thankfully, that idea has been scrapped (at least for now). This episode was chock full of delights as it showcased a cameo appearance by Ed Boon, tongue in cheek humor towards Mullins’ past role in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, and it was the first to exhibit a character’s trademark special move.
Prior to this episode, viewers were still under the assumption that Tancharoen would continue in the original, gritty, realistic mode he had paved with Rebirth. However, with Shang Tsung gracing us with his presence in supernatural fashion, this episode was paramount in hinting the team’s change in direction.
Episode 4 – 5: Kitana & Mileena
As alluded to in the previous episode, Tancharoen had decided to have the series rooted in the paranormal themes established in the games. Of all the episodes thus far, these two were the most disappointing.
As much as we gamers yearn for live action scripts, faithful to their sources, episodes four and five, more or less, stayed true to the tale of Edenia’s fall to Outworld. But many Mortal Kombat fans already know their history, and these installments were just that – history. It was nice to have animated vignettes incorporated, but these devices took up most of the leg work, which sadly made the whole experience rather numbing.
The costumes were another disappointment. Baraka and the Tarkatans went from being the scariest bastards in games to becoming knock offs of Lord of the Rings goblins. Furthermore, Shao Kahn was immediately introduced to us unmasked. Aside from Shaolin Monks (no, we’re not going to count Annihilation), the evil warlord rarely makes an appearance without his trademark helmet. Having his facial identity concealed was always the mystery factor that added to his menacing disposition. No offense to Aleks Paunovic, but in order to maintain Kahn’s traditional guise, he should’ve either worn the helmet or had his face concealed in shadows.
All in all, the manner of the live action segments were reminiscent of the Super Mario Bros. movie, which had a tendency of distracting me from appreciating the fight scenes.
Episode 6: Raiden
This was one of my personal favorites, combining the games’ paranormal themes and Legacy’s hardened realism: we’re treated to an amusing scenario of Raiden getting locked up in a psych ward. Though devoid of generous fight scenes, the episode garners attention to a what-if situation of having Earth’s protector being subjugated to the raw dealings of humankind.
The only flaw is the series’ ten minute breadth which did not do justice to the premise’s potential. In having Raiden suffer so much, it’s questionable as to whether he will continue caring for humans, or if his perspectives were made askew, possibly turning him to the darkside in becoming a vengeful god as he had at one point in the games. Either way, this episode exemplifies just how well Tancharoen demonstrates his decision making when it comes to casting.
Episode 7 – 8: Scorpion and Sub-Zero
What I liked about this story is the fact that most of the episodes were spoken in Japanese. Though the choice may be simplistic, it’s a breath of fresh air in having a western rendition of Asian content treated with such detail.
Yet another two-part origin story, this did more to impress compared to that of Kitana and Mileena. The fight sequences were just as hardcore as the first episodes, plus the characters actually got to perform their special abilities in interesting ways. In the case of costumes, things were a bit hit or miss. Scorpion’s gear was rather interesting given the choice in mask design. However, Sub-Zero’s costume didn’t do much to inspire as it mostly appeared as a get up comprising of gym sweats and custom football shoulder pads. Despite only showing up for a few minutes, Quan Chi’s garbs, makeup, and acting left a solid impression – enough to have me looking forward to the evil sorcerer’s forthcomings.
Episode 9: Cyrax & Sektor
Fans were dismayed by the announcement of the season finale’s delay due to Tancharoen’s wishes for a Comic-Con premiere. Thankfully, this was all in good reason. Earlier leaked images showed the characters as simply dressed in lackluster costumes, but we were all amazed at the last minute when the robo-ninjas strut their stuff in full CGI glory. The designs were not only faithful to Mortal Kombat 9’s, but both characters performed at a monumental level, complete with acrobatic juiciness and prestige. It’s enough to give Iron Man a run for his money. Plus, this episode finally showcased a fatality, appropriately putting the cherry on top to round up Legacy’s first season. Doubtless to say, there is now much more to anticipate for Legacy’s future.
Legacy has definitely been a sight for eyes made sore by years of live action letdowns. However, a big concern that still stands is the ten minute length of each episode. If there is to be a second season, I hope the restrictions are loosened in order to bring out much of the impact and attention the series so deserves. I would also like to see improvements in a number of the costumes now that Tancharoen has efficiently wow’d us with Cyrax and Sektor. All in all, despite no flawless victories gained, we definitely approve of Legacy and will be keeping an eye out for any upcoming developments. Well done.