‘Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle Of The Realms’ 4K UHD Blu-Ray Review – Fantastically Brutal Sequel Does Not Disappoint

Last year Mortal Kombat fans got an unexpected treat in the form of Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, the first entry in this hopefully long-running animated series. The film was wonderfully violent, thrilling and funny – everything you could want from the franchise. The original 1995 live-action film will always have a place in our hearts, but this animated entry captured the spirit more faithfully. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. gave us a new violent R-rated live-action Mortal Kombat which had some decent moments, but struggled in navigating a compelling narrative. Those who are looking for the true Mortal Kombat film of 2021 should look no further than Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms. This second installment might not quite reach the delirious highs of its predecessor, but it still delivers bone-crunching fun time that is not to be missed. 

Battle of the Realms functions as a solid sequel to Scorpion’s Revenge, but honestly newcomers could easily jump into this chapter without being too lost. Whereas the initial film provided a deep-dive into Scorpion’s backstory, Battle of the Realms belongs to Liu Kang. As someone who has never counted Liu Kang as a go-to character in my history with the games, this film provides the most compelling reason for why I should give him more consideration in the future. The film opens with a flashback to a group of Baraka-esque creatures brutally killing baby Liu Kang’s parents before being rescued by Raiden. This goes towards laying the necessary foundation for the emotional arc of this journey. The film does not lack when it comes to other fan favorites, but the dynamic between Liu Kang and Raiden is given an extra spotlight that pays off in the end. 

The film tackles two main storylines that ultimately come together by the end. The main storyline involves our heroes of the Earthrealm – Kung Lao, Curtis Stryker, Jax, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and Liu Kang – resorting to participating in one final Mortal Kombat against the forces of Outworld –  Li Mei, Kintaro, D’Vorah, Reiko, Jade and more – to determine the fate of the realms. These bouts are gnarly with many limbs being ripped apart, decapitations, skulls cracking (the x-ray vision returns!) and so much more. While many of the normal faces appear here, it is so cool to get some deep cuts like D’Vorah or even Stryker, as useless as I believe him to be. The film serves up a shocking mixture of deaths from top-tier characters and those from the B-team. Just like the characters in the tournament, the creative team is not pulling any punches. 

The secondary storyline helps move along the overarching narrative while bringing the franchise MVPs back into the fold. Scorpion has once again escaped from the Netherrealm and has conspired with Raiden to locate the ancient Kamidogu before Shinnok is able to use it to resurrect the One Being. At the same time over at the temple of the Lin Kuei, Kuai Liang has taken up the mantle as Sub-Zero and is looking to find Scorpion where he can avenge his brother. Yet, he finds himself on the outs with his grandmaster after he is recruited to be given cybernetic enhancements like Cyrax and Sektor, and he has an issue with that. There will be no spoilers as to how these two threads mesh together and fold into the overall narrative, but it offers many fun surprises. As a huge fan of Sektor and Cyrax, it was like a dream come true to see them given such substantial roles in the narrative even if their personalities were understandably reserved. 

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The only reason Battle of the Realms feels like a slight step down in quality is due to the sheer amount of story they are trying to cram into an 80-minute movie (that’s including the lengthy credits). Scorpion’s Revenge had a very specific storyline it was trying to tackle which gave some extra time for the characters to inject more personality in the story. This time the film feels like it has no slow moments as it rushes from action sequence to action sequence which, while very fun, can be a little draining. Johnny Cage still gives some great quips and Sonya spars well with him, but everyone else shows their characterization mostly through fighting. With either an expanded runtime or more story left on the table for a presumed sequel, Battle of the Legends could have been given the breathing room to equal the might of its predecessor. Despite these minor issues, Battle of the Realms remains a fantastically fun movie that keeps you wanting to come back for more. It is markedly better than the live-action Mortal Kombat from this year, which makes us wish that this animated franchise could get just as much exposure. At the very least, keep these Mortal Kombat Legends films rolling! 

Video Quality

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle Of The Realms comes to 4K UHD Blu-Ray that beautifully captures the visceral artistry. While the standard Blu-Ray is nothing to knock in the slightest, the 4K UHD Blu-Ray improves on it in numerous ways. The most obvious benefit of this presentation is the saturation quality and the vividness of the colors. The HDR enhancements are handled extremely well throughout the film with eye-popping benefits especially in the wildly colorful climax where multiple realms come together. The beautiful, bold colors used in the film just jump off the screen more in 4K. Black levels are also deeper and handle compression artifacts much more effortlessly. There is a subtle uptick in depth and angular line work is more refined in this presentation. The Blu-Ray is a fine looking disc, but those who have the proper setup will appreciate the improvements on the 4K disc. Fans are sure to be wowed by this presentation.

Audio Quality

The 4K UHD Blu-Ray disc offers the same incredibly engrossing DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that is present on the Blu-Ray. The track is totally immersive and offers some bone-crunching sounds that bring the extreme violence home sonically. The sound design of the film is truly excellent and gives all of the speakers a lot of activity. Every fight offers up an expansive soundscape where characters are flying across the screen in a way that the speakers capture well. Dialogue is balanced perfectly with the sound effects and the score so no information is ever lost in the mix. There is some powerful low-end activity that will get the room shaking during active moments. This very active track serves the kinetic energy of the movie very well.

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Special Features

  • Audio Commentary: Producer Rick Morales and screenwriter Jeremy Adams provide a very entertaining commentary track in which they actually address some of my personal issues with the film by agreeing that there was probably too much crammed into the film, but they were only commissioned for two films (as of now) and wanted to tell an entire story. The remainder of their commentary track finds them discussing upping the ante from the first film, easter eggs, the evolution of the script and much more. 
  • The God and The Dragon – Battling For Earthrealm: A seven-minute featurette in which various cast members discuss the film as a continuation of the previous film, dive into key turning points in the new film, introduce new characters and more promotionally minded bits of information. 
  • Voice of Kombat: A nine-minute featurette in which the voice performers give some insight into what it was like working on the film with plenty of behind-the-mic footage of the recording process. 
  • Kombat Gags – Gag Reel: A four-minute collection of alternate line readings, goofing off and more cursing, plus some more interviews with the actors. This is a pretty entertaining piece. 

 

Final Thoughts

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle Of The Realms is a real blast for fans of the franchise. The series is just as creative in its brutality as its first time at bat, and the narrative is expanded in a way that has the feature bursting at the seams with content. There is a clear sense that the creative team are big fans of the material which allows them to showcase many of the things they most want to see. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released a 4K UHD Blu-Ray featuring a stellar A/V presentation and a few interesting special features. Be sure to listen to the commentary track for some great background details on the film that will make you appreciate it even more. If you enjoyed the first entry in the series, you are sure to love this, as well. Highly Recommended 

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle Of The Realms is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

 

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