Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Part 2

The mid episodes of the series are a mixed bunch, while some seem to hold them as the worst episodes of the show others view one particular episode to be the best the whole series has to offer. Either way the second 2 parter took the series in a direction most fans didn’t like and hopefully for the coming film will be addressed. You’ll soon see why this is the case and why I happen to believe that the Raiden episode is one of the most beautiful works of drama a short film can be.

MORTAL KOMBAT LEGACY: PART 2

Episodes 4 & 5 (Characters featured: Kitana, Mileena, Shao Kahn, Sindel, Baraka)

This episode takes place in the realm of Edenia, a world that lots 10 straight Mortal Kombat fights and was invaded by Shao Kahn and his legions of Tarkatan.

The lead warrior of the Tarkatan kills his way through Edenia’s Riyal Palace. Hunting down the King and the rest of the Royal family. While one of the King’s doubles protects Queen Sindel and an infant Kitana, Shao Kahn takes Sindel as his wife and Kitana as his daughter after conquering the realm.

Shao Kahn however is unable to win Sindel’s love and fears the young Kitana will grow to resent and kill him, so he has her cloned. Leading to Mileena’s birth, a clone in every way except for her Tarkatan blood leaving her to have a deformed mouth which hides mutated teeth and gives her jaw a demon like appearance.

In an effort of save Kitana from being corrupted Sindel commits suicide; using a potion that will merge her soul with her daughters to her as she grows.

The daughters are shown growing up, trained under the watchful eyes of Shao Kahn as he exploits their natural ability as fantastic fighters, while the sisters grow apart. Ending on a sparring session between the two that shows their hatred and rivalry of each other.

This is where episode 4 ends.

Naturally episode 5 starts where 4 left off with the fight between Kitana and Mileena (Pretty impressive which the two girls using wushu based styles. Afterwards the narration moves on to explaining how the two of them were paired up to become an assassination team and are sent after the former King of Edenia’s body doubles.

While Kitana beings to suspect the motives of her adopted father she still has no idea about her true up bringing. Shao Kahn reveals that now only one double is left and that he is the final target for them .

Kitana splits up from Mileena and arrives first, finding out that the last double is in fact the true King and that Shao Kahn has lied about Kitana’s past. Kitana splits up from Mileena and arrives first, finding out that the last double is in fact the true King and that Shao Kahn has lied about Kitana’s past. Mileena strikes, mortally wounding the King and leaving however the King is able to say that she’s actually his daughter with his last breaths.

The episode closes back at Kahn’s throne room informing the sisters about a new Mortal Kombat tournament that he wishes for them to attend as they prepare to take over earth realm, however the look on Kitana’s face shows that she plans to side with Earth in the coming battle now she knows the truth of her heritage.

— In Review —

Now a lot of people have issues with there two episodes and I actually fall into that crowd. While the episode does have its better points the strongest criticism seems to come from the heavy use of cheap graphic novel style animated portions of the episodes that make up for a lot of the episodes.

Its clear that being the centre of the series these were the episodes afforded the least budget overall, which when combined with the premise of showing a completely different world is just bad. Its not that I don’t understand why the story was told in this way because its a perfectly logical and cost reducing way to do it given that amount of blue screen effects required to do it in live action but the fact that it was executed poorly is where I draw the problem.

The animations look like inked in story boards and really have now emotion of flow to them, breaking up the pace of the episodes. The special features actually say the in pre production there were a number of episodes that they decided now to film as time and budget did not allow however I question the choosing of these characters as clearly the budget to pull all this off was limited and focusing on another earth bound character might have been a much better option.

As for the characters them selves its a shame that there is really little development with all 5 major characters shown over the 2 episodes. Its ironic that perhaps Queen Sindel comes off as the strongest as she’s an MK3 character and is highly likely NOT to appear in a future film or second season if at all given that the plot of reviving her to merge the worlds never really made sense and I can’t see that being adapted. Sindel comes off as the strongest character of the arc, committing suicide so that her soul could guide Kitana to avoid the corruption of Kahn and the clone Mileena.

Kitana never really grows as a character, only finding out about her true past in the closing moments so they never really get explored, while you you can see in her eyes she’s a changed person. Her rivalry with Mileena isn’t explored much either while you actually feel a strong sense of it. This I put down to the actress Samantha Tjhia who portrays her, really putting a lot of passion into the role for really not having much to work with. This is another reason why the animation just doesn’t work for these episodes, you don’t get a sense of this at expect for when actual actors are playing the roles.

Mileena and Baraka fair the worst for the episodes. Baraka is reduced to a few short scenes and is really just treated like a thug and has no real explanation as a character. He could have been replaced by a token ‘head of the guard’ army type character and making him Baraka really just seems to be a way of show horning more characters into the script. I also think the look of Baraka is just awful, he looks a big too Horror B-Movie like and well as his blades just looking awful. One thing I liked about Baraka on his first d├ębut was that he was quite a slim character while here he’s bulky and slow… though this has also changed in the games as all characters are built like the terminator.

Mileena sets up character but then skips over it so briefly that it seemed almost worthless having it in there. As a young child you see Mileena coming to terms with her Tarkatan side; she’s scared, confused and angered by this side yet we see nothing of this afterwards with her then just shown as a grown woman who’s become a cold hearted killer.

Not lets finish off with the character that probably polarises you on opinion; Shao Kahn. Now the minute I saw his on screen I just felt depressed with their casting choice. He doesn’t look like the big scary ruler that the games introduced us to, though this could just be the exclusion of the face mask. If Mortal Kombat Retaliation taught us anything is that even a crappy portrayal of Kahn was done it looked good behind that mask.

But then I looked at it from a different perspective; their humanising Kahn which in actual fact doesn’t’ seem like a bad idea. While he’s a rules he doesn’t seem like a war monger, while he invades he seemed to head straight for the Royal Palace to quickly remove the King from power and takes the hand of his Queen in marriage which would have gone in a step to uniting the people of Edenia. He even eventually falls in love with Shiva, while she naturally hates him still which is what leads to his creation of Mileena… having a daughter that will love him through everything he’s done.

Now everything I’ve done is really inferring from the episode as none of it is explicitly said and if this is what the writers had planned its not given enough development while if this wasn’t planned then he’s just poorly written and portrayed. The actor does make Kahn look sad and lonely for the majority of the time and we don’t see a smile from him until the start of episode 5 when the sisters fight.

So that’s the Kitana arc, poorly handled and planned. Animation distracts from the story more then adding to it and compared to the other episodes their actually really short as well. I’d actually just recommend skipping these episodes as there’s not enough development that a line of dialogue in the future film could not sum up. If you must watch episode 5 only as at least Kitana gets some development and you see the set up for the betrayal of her father, everything else is filler.

So onto Raiden, the true love it or hate it episode of the series.

Episode 6 (Characters featured: Raiden)

Opening with some small introductory text from the director stating that this episode is done in the style that he in envisioned for the whole show (ala Mortal Kombat Rebirth). You know that you going to be in for something different to all the other episodes.

Opening in the courtyard of a mental asylum we find Raiden, teleported in after a bolt of lightning struck. He’s found by another girl in the asylum and then quickly the medical staff who even though they don’t recognise him restrain and sedate him when he tries to escape the prison.

Cutting to 3 months later we see that Raiden has been fully institutionalised because the staff refuse to believe his identity and the story he keeps telling them about the Mortal Kombat tournament coming up.

Aside from the fact its clear they not going to release him Raiden also is prone to outbursts of anger when they refuse to listen to him and take caution given an unnatural level of physical strength. In an effort to ‘help’ they try more damaging processes including a lobotomy which seems to calm him down while its actually him pretending waiting for a chance to escape.

Has asks the girl he originally met for help though its unclear whet he means by it, as well as re enforcing his belief on her that there never going to release her from the asylum. Once again refusing Raiden attempts a more physical escape, revealing more of his electric side when he shrugs off and absorbs the shock of several stun guns before finally being subdued with a tranquilliser dart to the head.

Once again a lobotomy is performed, while this time he’s found by the young girl. Pleading with her to kill him to release him. Finally relenting she stabs him causing him to turn into a ball of light and explode in full view of the staff.

It then cuts away from the facility and turns to the street when Raiden once again teleports in like the opening of the episode.

Walking off to attend the tournament he takes a hat from a guy who’s been standing around watching him completing his look and the episode closes.

— In Review —

Now this episode is my hands down favourite of the series, it represents how the series could have gone if the format had remained like legacy yet still manages to present a real life approach with the more magic aspect of the series still present but heavily downplayed keeping it in the Legacy continuity. The closest to this would be the Johnny cage episode that also downplays the magic aspect and deals more with a more realistic setting.

Now the idea of setting Raiden in a mental asylum is a very interesting premise. While its made clear to the viewer that its really Raiden and not a mental case (Given that the original concept of rebirth might have taken the character that way) Its funny seeing the reactions that the staff have to him. Now clearly they know he’s not a patient when he arrives skipping straight ahead to 3 months later means there’s a lot of guess work on the viewers part. Its not that hard to assume that at the very mention of him being the God of thunder would have gotten him committed quickly.

The Raiden in this episode isn’t the old powerful God that were used to in the games. He doesn’t seem to be able to summon lightning at will or teleport; teleportation seems to be activated when he dies.. a sort of re incarnation thing as I’m sure you can’t kill a God. Its possible that again coming to the human world has a dramatic effect on his powers.

Again it relies a lot on assumption a lot so its better to just go with it, weather its drugs suppressing the powers or just being on earth doesn’t matter as that’s not the focus on the episode. The focus is on Raiden the man more then the God.

Made clear from the interviews with him its clear that he has an anger problem, causing violent out bursts against the staff that keep him imprisoned. Again its left unclear if this has been developed as part of his imprisonment there. He still has an inhuman level of strength which leads to keeping him restrained until the proposal for a lobotomy happens.

I do wonder if any of the staff had started to think that what he said might have some truth to it, while given their work place such stories might actually be common but claiming to be the God of thunder while having inhuman strength and the ability to seemingly absorb the shock of various stun guns might have made them question it at least, such an immunity could have led a man to think that he was so it does work both ways.

The lobotomy scene is a bit hard to watch (I’ve been watching the uncut versions of the episodes, not the you tube ones I have here). Its unsettlingly even when its not shown directly; the twitching of the body and echoing of the hammer really unnerves you and is very effective. I actually thought that it might lead to the episode ending with Raiden rotting in the place and left unable to attend the tournament.

The relationship he has with the girl is underplayed, its likely they developed a friendship over the time her was there which would have been nice to have been expanded on. Its clear that by the time that he’s been lobotomised he’s been asking for her help for a while. He pity’s her, still believing that they might allow her to leave one day and I believe that he wants to help her but it’s really him who needs her help as death is really the only release for him.

While the asylum is mostly left open story wise as you leave the place with Raiden’s ‘death’ I would have hoped that the something changed there, with both her and the staff witnessing the teleportation of his body.

My final thought on the episode is that this is what the original intention of the series had been. It really feels like Rebirth while no characters are shared between the two of them it has a down to earth gritty feel to it, aside from the reference to mortal Kombat and the character of Raiden it doesn’t feel like Mortal Kombat (the same issue Rebirth suffers from) but it does however create a fantastic premise that works very well as a side story and humanising tale for Raiden that removes the Thunder God side from him and makes him relate able.

Its defiantly something that has to be watched and provides a really well done alternative take on the character.

Ryatta

About Ryatta

So about me... Well when I'm not reviewing things I'm a technical animator working in one of the UKs biggest game studios!

Posted on 03/27/2012, in Other, Text Reviews/Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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