The Film: Back in my youth, I fondly remember racing to the local convenience store after school to pop every last quarter I could scrounge up into the arcade. I was always drawn to the ones with violent tendencies such as, Double Dragon, NARC, Pit Fighter and of course, Splatterhouse. In 1992, Midway Games changed the video game culture forever with the explosive release of the immortal, Mortal Kombat. It delivered an unimaginable level of graphic brutality that stunned us all. It set the bar so high that it rendered every other game obsolete. Hollywood boldly attempted to adapt it into a PG-13 release. We all cried foul but somehow then little known director, Paul W.S. Anderson managed to capture the essence of the game. Most importantly, he devised creative ways to make the violence satisfy the core fanbase who hold the trademark spatter near and dear to their hearts. Unfortunately, all hope for the franchise was quickly decimated with the release of the putrid sequel.
Who would have ever thought Mortal Kombat‘s future in film would be revitalized by the director of the Fame remake?! A huge fan himself, director Kevin Tancharoen lobbied to make a feature but the studio didn’t quite see the potential. So we got a web series instead…a quality one at that. We get six character-focused shorts split into nine episodes. While each story is uniquely different from the other, the character-driven narrative is always constant. It’s to no surprise that once the show steps into the realm of the fantastical (Kitana & Mileena segment), it’s falters a bit. Mortal Kombat: Legacy isn’t as deliciously nasty as the games but it successfully captures the darker tone missing from the campier previous installments. Much to the dismay of some fans, Tancharoen plays with the mythology. I believe this aids in giving his take a fresh, more reality-based feel (well, as reality-based as this supernatural world will ever get). He wisely stays true to the essence of the characters. Also, for a web series, it’s very well-made. The cinematography is pretty striking and the action beats are nicely choreographed. The editing is refreshingly kept to a minimum which only helps to draw the viewer more into the exciting fight sequences. The visual effects like the fantastic motion-captured Cyrax and Sektor are effectively utilized. It’s only when the CGI-rendered Outworld is presented that the constraints of a lower budget begins to show. Otherwise, the craftsmanship on display is first-rate all throughout.
Every frame of Mortal Kombat: Legacy reeks labour of love. As a result of the positive feedback, New Line has greenlit a new Mortal Kombat feature to be directed by Tancharoen. Can’t wait to see what he does with a bigger budget. At the very least, I’m thankful Mortal Kombat: Annihilation isn’t the last word cinematically on this beloved brand.
The A/V: To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of a web series, specs-wise. Mere seconds into this, I was blown away by how gorgeous this MPEG-4 AVC transfer looks. This Red One MX-shot film is rich with colour, deep black levels and strong detail.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is less impressive due to a fairly limited soundscape. The first two episodes are easily the most dynamic sounding. Most of the sound design is regulated to the front channels with the score being the most present. Sound effects have a nice punch but the overall soundtrack is where the lower budget is apparent. Don’t get me wrong, the audio is perfectly fine. It just underwhelms in comparison to the stunning visuals.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
The Special Features: There are five perfectly fine featurettes running at approximately forty minutes in length. There is just enough info on the making of these shorts to satisfy. Though, it would have been cool if they added Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, the short that started it all.
Overall: This uncut version of Mortal Kombat: Legacy is a no-brainer for fans. There is a healthy balance of familiar and new elements to make this a well worthy addition to an already rich universe.