Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge Review: A gloriously gory delight for fans and newcomers alike
While the Mortal Kombat series has thrived for decades in the gaming world because of its unique storylines and characters as well as gory kombat that made it iconic, it hasn’t done so hot outside of the games. The attempts at making live-action films have been pitiful to say the least, so when the news broke that the first ever animated film for franchise was coming to VOD – it quickly became a highly anticipated film for me. With the film, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, being animated and focused on the franchise’s most iconic character, it seemed like a fan’s dream come true and it is – for better or worse.
The film follows Scorpion’s origins as Hanzo Hasashi (voiced by Patrick Seltz), a father and grandmaster of the Shirai Ryu ninja clan. However, after arriving back home one night with his son Satoshi, (voiced by Grey Griffin) they are ambushed by the rival Lin Kuei clan and find that their entire clan has been slaughtered – including his wife. Eventually stopped by the grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, Sub-Zero (voiced by Steve Blum), Hanzo watches him kill Satoshi before being sent to the Netherrealm via a gruesome death at the hands of Sub-Zero. While in the horrifying and desolate hell-scape of the Netherrealm, Hanzo is fueled by vengeance and catches the eye of the evil warlock Quan-Chi (voiced by Darin De Paul) – who gives him an opportunity for revenge. Taking on the new name of Scorpion and joining the Mortal Kombat tournament, Scorpion hacks and slashes his way to redemption and revenge.
It’s actually interesting to see the story between Scorpion and Sub-Zero actually be told since it’s usually just talked about or mentioned, but never really delved into. While the historical rivalry between the Shirai Ryu and Lin Keui aren’t delved into much, the film gives the franchise’s two most iconic characters the time and focus they deserve. The opening is absolutely amazing in showcasing the emotional ripples that are created within Scorpion from watching his family and clan be torn apart by the Lin Keui and sets up his path to revenge in a way that fans haven’t seen before. Not to mention, seeing Scorpion tear his way through Netherrealm to meet Quan-Chi and try to redeem and resurrect his family is great and you really get behind him as a viewer. It’s quite a unique look at one of gaming’s most iconic fighters and it’s animated beautifully – in a Mortal Kombat kind of way.
The big plus in having this film be animated and R-rated is that there would be no restrictions or limitations in delivering the kind of grotesque and mind-blowing blood and gore that’s made the franchise iconic – and boy does it deliver. As a fan, it’s incredible to see a Mortal Kombat film that’s unapologetic in letting the blood soak the screen, tearing limbs apart, and delivering skull-shattering and eye-popping blows. The way the film pays homage to the game’s X-ray moves is excellent and there’s so much blood that fills the screen at times that it’s literally jaw-dropping. There’s a move that Scorpion pulls on Goro (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) that is mind-blowing and will absolutely please any fan of the franchise. Even the character designs and voices create this unique depiction of classic characters without losing their familiarity and will be easily recognized by any fan the second they come into frame. I will say that some elements of the animation, like the knuckles and some of the detailing, don’t work and are just plain distracting, but overall work in giving the two main stories a true Mortal Kombat feel.
No. that last comment wasn’t a mistake as this film is really telling both the origins of Scorpion’s rivalry with Sub-Zero and the original Mortal Kombat story where Lord Raiden (voiced by Dave B. Mitchell) is looking to turn the tables on Shang Tsung (voiced by Artt Butler) to protect Earthrealm. Now, not that I don’t enjoy seeing this story be told, but it creates too much predictability and a lack of freshness that this film doesn’t need. It consumes so much of the plot that the film almost doesn’t deserve to say that it’s telling Scorpion’s side of things. There’s certainly plenty of great callbacks to things like Johnny Cage (voiced by Joel McHale) pulling off his signature nut punch and being oblivious to everything, Sonya Blade (voiced by Jennifer Carpenter) being a total bad-ass and pulling off a brutal fatality with her trusty garrote, and Raiden being an omnipotent presence that’s always pulling fate towards his desired outcome. Hell, there’s even a gory and great moment between Jax (Ike Amadi) and Goro that fans will see coming from a mile away but still be on their feet anticipating it.
Truthfully, it’s hard not to find yourself appreciating the film touching on the original as a fan because it’s the perfect amount of nostalgia for old fans and an opportunity for newcomers to experience the story for the first time. Even with some nitpicky decisions that don’t jive with me, like the way the tournament is structured and certain characters that pop in and are quickly disposed of, the story is solid in setting up the original story and future films that are hinted at by the end. Personally, the whole element of doing the Mortal Kombat tournament is a little too much at times and not fleshed out in a way that’s satisfying. They literally get to the final battle with too much ease and obstacles just come in to make the journey seem tough even though its clearly not. I will say though that there’s a very welcomed element of humor that’s present throughout just about all the characters, especially Cage, and seeing some of the more usually rigid characters like Raiden even crack some jokes makes it a very entertaining experience.
Even with the film just barely putting enough focus on Scorpion to warrant its title and choices that left me mixed, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is a fan’s dream come true. It offers a strong enough spotlight on Scorpion search for revenge and a mostly fresh look at the classic Mortal Kombat story that’s brings the gory fighting and strong personalities to life through excellent animation. It’s a wild ride that will please any fan and keep them begging for more. Not to mention, it sets a decently high bar for the upcoming live-action reboot to hit.