A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 437 – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation – May 11th, 2011

When my coworker printed out the list of DVDs her husband was getting rid of Andy and I went through it to pick titles. I’d marked some I was tentatively interested in, pending his approval (we don’t buy things without each other’s approval now – it’s better this way) and one was Mortal Kombat. I wasn’t sure if it was the one I’d seen or not but Andy confirmed that it wasn’t. But hey, why not, right? It’s got Christopher Lambert in it, after all, and it was only a couple of bucks. No big deal and we’d get a cheesy video game movie we hadn’t seen before. The thing is, when we opened the case and popped in the movie, it turned out to be the sequel. The case is for the first one, but the disc is the second. Which we have seen!

Back when I was in college I had friends who delighted in bad movies. Which fit well with my interests because I also delight in bad movies. I mean, they have to be a certain flavor of bad. There’s bad as in just plain horrible and not fun to watch. There’s bad as in poorly made. And there’s the sort of cheesy bad that crosses through into ridiculously fun to watch. The best examples I can think of for this type of movie are things like Dragon Wars and Sharks in Venice. They’re movies that are made both utterly seriously and thoroughly ridiculously at the same time. And this is one such movie, so a couple of my friends told me “Oh, we have to watch Mortal Kombat: Annihilation! It’s hilarious!” And so I grabbed it from work and we camped out in a friend’s dorm room and watched this and laughed ourselves sick. I’m fairly sure everyone else was drunk by the end. I wasn’t, since I don’t drink. But they were. I’m sure it just made the movie more amusing.

To be honest, I’d blocked out a huge chunk of this movie. Or maybe I’d just forgotten it. I wasn’t paying a ton of attention when I originally watched it. Cause, you know, it doesn’t command much in the way of attention. It’s a movie based on a fighting game. Consequently it’s pretty much a bit of plot that serves as an excuse for a ton of fight scenes. A ton of over the top fight scenes. With CGI dragons and hydras and robots and it’s just as silly as one might expect it to be. No wait, it’s sillier. So much sillier. I honestly don’t know if I can adequately describe the silliness without just telling people to go see it for themselves. It’s a combination of dated special effects, scenery chewing and characters who were originally meant to just look cool on a video game screen where they’d duke it out against each other.

Oh, there’s a semblance of a plot. The evil Shao Khan opens a bunch portals (bad ones, not fun ones like these) between realms and that’s bad and apparently will eventually destroy Earth. That’s super uncool and pisses off thunder god Raiden, who’s sort of a junior god here but never mind that for the moment. He talks to the Elder Gods, who tell him to reunite Princess Kitara with Queen Sindel and put Sindel’s soul to rest or something. I stopped paying attention. Basically what we’ve got is a plot that gives everyone an excuse to put the band back together and eventually face off with the bad guys. So off go the folks who started off with Raiden and didn’t get killed in the first scene. They split up, of course, because we have more opportunities for fights that way. Sonya Blade meets up with her old partner, Jax, who has big metal arms now. They fight some dudes. Liu Kang and Kitana fight some folks and Kitana gets kidnapped, then Liu Kang fights more, meets the mysterious Nightwolf, passes two out of three tests (I assume the third test was cut for budgetary reasons?) and ends up joining with Jade. Who of course will betray them all later.

It feels kind of pointless to even try and make the plot sound interesting. It’s not interesting. Evil dude and his team of evil super creatures/fighters threaten the Earth, good guys gather forces to defeat them. That’s about it! Oh, and Raiden gives up being a thunder god so he can be mortal and fight his brother. Oh, sorry, spoiler. Shao Khan is Raiden’s brother and they’re both sons of one of the Elder Gods and by setting up the whole thing their father is guilty of breaking the rules of combat – sorry, kombat – and there will be consequences. Or something. Mostly the consequences seem to be more fight scenes that ultimately culminate in some horribly dated CGI monsters that I think are supposed to be Raiden’s and Shao Khan’s animalistic forms. And then their father gets folded up into a box.

Whatever. The plot is so not the point. The point is the ridiculous characters, acting, dialogue, effects, fighting. Fighting. More fighting. And you know what? When you accept that the fighting is the point you can just sort of sit back and let the movie wash over you in a series of punches, kicks, leaps, dodges, ridiculous weapons (blade fans – oh, fighting games, I am appoint). I’ve got to say I do like Sonya. She’s given some good fights and her breasts never threaten to pop out of her shirt, which is pretty impressive. Actually, kudos to the costume folks on the boob wrangling front, since I don’t think any of the women in this movie are fighting in outfits that look as if they’re about to undergo massive structural failure the next time something bounces the wrong way. So I enjoy the fights. They’re fun. Especially when two former American Gladiators get to duke it out. Even if one does have horns and a big horse butt (cause he’s a centaur with a spiky tail).

Quick aside here: I have never been able to adequately explain this in my own head, but for some reason I obsessed over American Gladiators for a little while when I was a kid. I can still pick Tower and Nitro out of a lineup and I can still bitch and moan about the women’s gladiator names. The dudes get things like Sabre and Laser and Titan and the women got Lace? Lace? I always thought Tower was a meh sort of name and okay, Malibu is just straight up hilarious as a tough guy name. But Lace? Seriously. Come on. At least in this movie Malibu (Deron McBee) gets to be a bad ass as Motaro. Still gets his butt kicked by fellow former Gladiator, Lynn “Red” Williams as Jax, who gets the best and least stilted lines of the movie. So, score for him! Ten points!

There is something about this movie that just makes me crack up. I am a little sad that we didn’t get to see Christopher Lambert as Raiden tonight, but we did get to see a movie I enjoy (for whatever reason) and hadn’t seen in a while. We’ll have to go out and find an equally cheap copy of the first movie now, for the sake of completeness. But I doubt it will be able to live up to this movie’s cheesetastic glory. I mean, Lambert counts for a hell of a lot, but this movie has one of the Warriors (James Remar) as Raiden and two American Gladiators. How do you beat that? You don’t. You just don’t.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

May 11, 2011

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

This is not the movie we thought it was. This was one of a bunch of movies we bought for two dollars a piece. It was in the box for Mortal Kombat though, so until we put it in our DVD player we thought we were going to be watching the first movie, not this one. The first Mortal Kombat movie is something I remember watching in the theaters when it first came out for the stupid spectacle of it. This laughably absurd sequel I associate with late night ridicule in a dorm room with a bunch of Amanda’s college friends. I’m not sure if it actually even had a theatrical release – it has a direct to video fee to it. Or a made for cable TV feel. I was kind of looking forward to seeing a movie with Christopher Lambert tonight too.

In spite of my lifelong love of video games I never was any good at fighting games. I’ve tried so many times – I just can’t figure out the rhythm of them. I do remember watching a lot of people pump quarters into the Mortal Kombat machine in the lounge in the Oxy student union back when it was a brand new game. It had such cool photo-realistic high tech graphics.

Those graphics translate very well to this cheesy movie. It has the same pasted together look of cheap special effects as the game I remember with such fondness. Everything about this movie screams “low budget.” They couldn’t even afford the one b-list star they had in the first movie (Christopher Lambert) and instead they have somebody completely different playing Rayden. As with the game itself there are a lot of interchangeable foes in masks – like Scorpion, Sub Zero and Reptile – all of whom are there to act as roadblocks on the path our heroes must walk to complete their quest.

After returning to Earth victorious in the inter-dimensional martial arts competition that he won on behalf of humanity Liu Kang thought that he could relax and rest for a while. The rules of the competition state that if he wins the powers of evil may not invade our world for another generation. Except that would make for a really boring movie so no sooner do Liu Kang, Kitana, Sonya and Johnny get back to Earth with their demi-god sponsor Rayden than all kinds of inter-dimensional portals start opening and anonymous black pajama wearing henchmen start falling from the sky like little meteors. A horned centaur thing (which was never in the first Mortal Kombat game but must have been introduced to take Goro’s place in later games) and lady Goro and evil masked dude with a mighty big hammer all show up and to prove they mean business they quickly kill Johnny Cage. Oh, and there’s Kitana’s dead mother who has joined the bad guys too.

Our heroes flee into some underground tunnels with giant gerbil balls and split up to search out other mighty heroes so they can face the forces of darkness and close the portals. From there, well, I kind of fade into a bad-movie induced coma. There are a whole bunch of fight scenes. Some new characters are introduced. (Jax with his cyborg arms and the mysterious Jade for example.) Kitana gets kidnapped. Rayden decides to become mortal for some reason. Everything hinges on reuniting Kitana with her dead mother. Except that isn’t true at all.

It all ends with Mortal Kombat. Of course.

The plot is nonsense. The best actor in the whole movie is an American Gladiator. The accents are all over the place. The effects are some of the most fake looking ever filmed. At one point there’s an epic duel between a CGI dragon and a CGI hydra and there are moments where it looks like they released the film with the place-holder animatics edited in instead of completed effects shots. There is at least one martial arts kickboxing scene every five or ten minutes.

Jax fights the centaur. Kitana fights her mother. Sonya fights… some random dude in red. Rayden is honored to die a mortal, because dying an immortal would have been much harder. The movie staggers about and stumbles drunkenly to its inevitable conclusion.

I have to admit that I had a lot of fun watching this tonight. It’s way into the realm of so bad its good. I just kind of wish w had a riff track for it or something. It feels like a movie that was made to make fun of. A big glorious silly mess.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment