Warner Bros. Animation seems to have a touch of magic with the animated movies that they are known for making with the DC Universe, but after giving things a try with the excellent Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion, Warner Bros. Animation is looking to build another Universe/Franchise in their animated catalog with the Mortal Kombat series. The latest film, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, is an interesting if not over-packed sequel that fans will enjoy.
Title: Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms Production Company: Warner Bros. Animation, Studio Mir Distributed by: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Directed by: Ethan Spaulding Produced by: Rick Morales, Jim Krieg Written by: Jeremy Adams Starring: Jordan Rodrigues, Joel McHale, Jennifer Carpenter, Patrick Seitz, Matthew Mercer, Fred Tatasciore, Dave B. Mitchell, Robin Atkin Downes, Grey Griffin Based on: Mortal Kombat by Ed Boon and John Tobias Release dates: Out Now Running time: 80 minutes Rating: R (United States)/MA15+ (Australia)
A Final Tournament for the fate of all realms
A couple attempts to protect their infant son, Liu Kang, from pursuing Tarkatans, who are sent to prevent the infant from fulfilling his destiny of defeating Shao Kahn. They tear the father apart and mortally wounds the mother, and then prepare to devour Liu Kang, but were stopped by Lord Raiden, who kills them all. The dying mother asks Raiden to tell their son that he was loved by his parents before passing on, and Raiden takes his leave with Liu Kang to train him for his purpose.
Following the events of the previous tournament, Shao Kahn declares war on Earthrealm in retaliation for Shang Tsung’s defeat through a new Mortal Kombat tournament set in Outworld. Princess Kitana, Kintaro, General Reiko, and Jade lead the Emperor’s first wave invasion force of Outworld laying siege against the Wuxi monastery but they are repelled by Kung Lao and Special Forces cybernetically enhanced Jackson Briggs and NYPD officer, Kurtis Stryker. At the onset of their assault, the Outworld commanders are confronted by movie star Johnny Cage and Jax’s partner Sonya Blade.
Cage and Blade are soon joined in stymying the incursion force by Liu Kang and Raiden as negotiations fail. Kahn appears himself, petitioning Raiden to participate in a final Mortal Kombat tournament, to decide the fate of their world once and for all. The thunder god agrees and he ventures to the realm of his overseers; the Elder Gods, to put forth his commitment to this ultimate contest.
Meanwhile, just as plans for the final competition are being drawn, Scorpion reawakens back in the Netherrealm after having died a second time upon Shang Tsung’s island. He is confronted by the maddened Elder God Shinnok over the death of his favored servant Quan Chi. Shinnok engineers Scorpion’s entrance into Earthrealm in hopes of utilizing the key embedded in his body by hiring the Lin Kuei clan. Back in Earthrealm, Lin Kuei members Smoke and Kuai Liang witness their peers undergo neural cybernetic biomodifications in order to hunt down Scorpion. In response, Smoke and Sub-Zero rebel, with Sub-Zero being the only one to flee successfully.
Back at the Wuxi Temple, Raiden returns to his troops after making arrangements to hold and participate in the tournament while relinquishing his immortality. Once everyone heads out for Outworld, Scorpion makes his presence known to Raiden. He mentions how the key to Shinnok’s prison had been bonded to his soul and came to the protector of Earthrealm for advice about its purpose. Raiden informs him that it is a key to untold power knowns as the Kamidogu; a supreme magical relic from a bygone era that, if used improperly, could doom all the realms.
At the start of the tournament, Cage is defeated by Kytinn warrior D’Vorah; Sonya defeats D’Vorah and Li Mei, and Jax successfully defeats Kintaro by ripping his arms out of their sockets.
Back on Earth, Scorpion is being pursued by the now cybernetic Cyrax and Sektor in a dockside shipping yard. The trio is soon interrupted by Sub-Zero, but even he is outmatched by their superior enhancements, aided later by new arrival, the cybernetic Smoke. With their enemies overwhelmed, the three cyber Lin Kuei apprehend their Hellspawn prey and make off to the Temple of Elements. At their destination, they force Hanzo to open the gate leading to their prize. As they prepare to eliminate him once upon accessing its gateway, they are interrupted again by a vengeful Sub-Zero. Scorpion tries and fails to console Kuai Liang over murdering his brother but agrees to a temporary alliance against the Lin Kuei. The two are still no match for their robotic assailants and are left for dead upon their acquisition of the artifact as the mountainous hall collapses on them.
As the second half of the final tournament is underway, Lao and Stryker are killed by Shang Tsung and Kahn. Kitana rebels against Kahn instead of fighting against Raiden only to be beaten into submission. Kang defeats Shang Tsung regardless of a setback and spares him.
Within the Netherrealm the Lin Kuei realize that their employer was Shinnok, learn of his plan to revive the One Being and bring an end to all of creation; and are subsequently betrayed and killed for their services.
During the final stage of the tournament, Raiden loses his battle against Shao Kahn and dies in the process, enraging Kang to defeat Kahn and win the tournament. Celebrations are cut short however as Shinnok finally succeeds in resurrecting the One Being and immediately absorbs its power to become Corrupted Shinnok. With the aid of the Elder Gods, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion, Liu Kang engages in combat with Shinnok while Johnny, Jax, Kitana, and Sonya protect civilians from Kahn’s remaining army.
In the aftermath of the battle, Kang manages to absorb the One Being’s power and disseminate it back into separating the realms into their original state, including Edenia. Sonya and Johnny share one final kiss while Liu and Kitana hold hands in hard-earned peace. They are unaware that Raiden is revived with his godhood, watching them from afar and leaving with lightning in the skies.
Select Your Fighter
I know that I would usually break down the characters one by one and talk about them, but since there are so many characters involved in Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms that it would be one very long breakdown. So here’s the list of the voice talent involved in Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms for you to see.
Ike Amadi as Jax Briggs, One Being
Artt Butler as Shang Tsung, Shao Kahn Soldier, Cyrax
Jennifer Carpenter as Sonya Blade
Robin Atkin Downes as Shinnok, Reiko
Grey Griffin as Kitana, Satoshi Hasashi, Li Mei
Matthew Yang King as Kung Lao
Bayardo De Murguia as Kuai Liang / Sub-Zero
Joel McHale as Johnny Cage
Matthew Mercer as Kurtis Stryker, Demon One, Smoke
Dave B. Mitchell as Raiden, Sektor, Kintaro
Paul Nakauchi as the Lin Kuei Grandmaster
Emily O’Brien as Jade, Lin Kang
Jordan Rodrigues as Liu Kang
Patrick Seitz as Hanzo Hasashi / Scorpion
Fred Tatasciore as Shao Kahn
Debra Wilson as D’Vorah
Matthew Lillard as Ultra Instinct Shaggy (cameo)
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is one of those movies where the people involved are passionate about what they are doing. Sure, you do have some people like Matthew Mercer, Dave B. Mitchell, and Matthew Yang King, who were involved with the same characters in either the video games or Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion, so outside of some of the newcomers, the voice actors were comfortable in who they were voicing and did a very good job in doing so. While there are some changes with characters’ voices in the transition from video game to the animated movie, nothing really feels out of place or jarring that it pulls you out of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms at all.
A Special mention needs to go to Joel McHale as Johnny Cage, who reprises the role from Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion, as just about everything he says, is pure comedy gold. For those of you who get the DVD or Bluray for Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, you need to go check out the gag reel special feature for all the amazingly funny stuff that was left on the cutting room floor for this guy. Hell, he’s done such a good job as Johnny Cage that I would love to see Warner Bros Animation do some of the fictional Johnny Cage movies just so we get more of this character and voice actor.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is one of those films that is perfect for long-established fans of the Mortal Kombat franchise, with a lot of fan-favorite characters, and some not so well-liked characters, appearing in the movie and interacting with each other, either with words or fists. When Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms decides to focus on the main point of the overall plot: The Mortal Kombat tournament itself (aka the Mortal Kombat 2 game), things really seem to click. Even the inclusion of the storyline from Sub Zero Mythologies, one of the worst Mortal Kombat games, finds a way to be a decent part of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, since Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion introduced some concepts from that game into its movie.
Where Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, as well as Mortal Kombat: Scorpion, excels is with its visual style. Animation is fluid with the characters themselves look almost Bruce Timm-like (Think Batman: The Animated Series) in design. But what people will like a lot more is the fact that Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms does not shy away from showing some of the most brutal X-Ray moves and fatality moves that look like they were ripped straight from the games themselves. Blood sprays everywhere during fights, bones are shown being broken, and the fatality moves here are a step up more than what we enjoyed in the recent live-action Mortal Kombat movie.
One last thing: The once rumored meme that is Ultra Instinct Shaggy appears before Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms begins in a short one-line cameo. After Scorpion does some flashy kata in front of the WB logo, Shaggy uses Scorpion’s legendary tagline before grabbing him and dragging the masked man from hell into the world beyond the WB logo to possibly beat his ass. I don’t know anyone who didn’t cheer at the sight of this meme appearing in some form in a Mortal Kombat product. So this one of the highlights for me viewing this movie too.
Too much, too Quickly
On the other side, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms really felt like it tried to do too much with its story when it didn’t need to. As mentioned before, we have the tournament from Mortal Kombat 2, the base storyline from Sub Zero Mythologies, and then we have characters and story elements from Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat Deception, Mortal Kombat (2011), and Mortal Kombat 11. when you’re trying to tell a story in around an hour and some change, trying to push all these elements into one storyline just did nothing but confuse people who don’t already understand what is happening most of the time, requiring the need to have some Mortal Kombat nerd on hand to explain everything. Also, this packing in of so many story elements really killed the pacing and the editing of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms overall, having to cut to Scorpion trying to find the Kamidogu while being chased by Cyrax, Sektor, and Smoke while Sub Zero tries to stop them as well partway through a great fight between Johnny Cage and other characters really killed the tournament aspect of the story. Then by the end of it all, we get things took right out of Mortal Kombat 11 when it feels like Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms should have already ended already, leading to the final act not making sense or it could have been left for its own movie.
Overall, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is just a bit of a mess for people outside hardcore fans to get a grip on. Watching this with Rachael, who knows very little about Mortal Kombat’s storylines (But has watched me play a lot of the games), was confused to the point where I had to spend additional time untangling Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms’ story so she could understand. We did enjoy the action and animation for the unrestricted violence that it was. However, it’s not enough to gloss over the terrible convoluted and messy plot that really should have been split over another 2-3 movies with ease. It’s unsure if this was a lack of faith in Mortal Kombat, or if the deal with NetherRealm Studios was only for 2 movies, but this looks like it could have been better done with a longer universe of movies rather than what we got here.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms could have been a really good follow up to the excellent Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion, instead it tries to add too many storylines and plot points from Mortal Kombat II, Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat Deception, and even Mortal Kombat (2011), Mortal Kombat X, and Mortal Kombat 11 into one movie. This made the whole film feel rushed, leaving fan-favorite characters neglected from their parts in those stories. Warner Bros Animation has painted itself into a corner in what could have been a good long-running movie series.
Ultra Instinct Shaggy cameo
Anything Johnny Cage related
Some gruesome fatalities
Too many storylines
Mixed too much post-MK9(2011) stuff in the pre-MK9 storyline