Mortal Kombat has been the target of parental outrage since the franchise debuted with its brand of over-the-top violence that shattered the innocence of countless children. These were videogames that teenagers felt they needed to hide away from their parents lest they be reprimanded for engaging with such “evil” and “filth.” When they were adapted into live action films in the 90s, the violence was toned down enough to secure a PG-13. While those films are a guilty pleasure for many, hardcore fans of the games always wanted a proper adaptation of the story complete with insane amounts of violence. As we await the newest attempt at capturing the magic of the franchise in live action form, Warner Bros. Animation has snuck in and given fans what they have always wanted with Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge.
This initial entry into this hopefully long-running series zeros in on fan favorite Scorpion. Before he was Scorpion, he was simply grandmaster Hanzo Hasashi living in Japan with his wife and son, Satoshi. When he is ambushed by a rival clan led by the ruthless Sub-Zero, Hanzo loses everything, including his own life. Hanzo winds up in the equivalent of hell, Netherrealm, and makes a deal with sorcerer Quan Chi to fight in the Mortal Kombat tournament on behalf of the realm. Hanzo has an unstoppable desire to get revenge on Sub-Zero, and he gives up his old identity in favor of his new persona, Scorpion. While Scorpion serves as a gateway to the tournament, he is not the sole focus of the film. Long-running staples of the series Raiden, Liu-Kang, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage all team up to defend Earthrealm in the titular tournament. The stakes are high at this particular iteration as a victory for Outworld could mean the total destruction of Earthrealm.
The plot of this film is very familiar to those with even a passing knowledge of the series. The different realms are always competing for domination during these tournaments, and there are established grudges that never seem to fade. Since this story has never been told as it should outside of the videogames, this is as good of a starting point as any. The film takes the basic plot and dials up the brutality to the maximum to give audiences one of the most joyously, demented pieces of entertainment to come out in a while. Limbs are sliced off with reckless abandon and more people are impaled than you would think could be physically possible. The film even takes a page from the series with X-Ray shots that show the true carnage that a blade going through tendon serves up. This knows exactly what it wants to be, and it embraces that demented spirit from start to finish.
The animation present here is actually quite lovely to witness when you are not seeing entrails splayed across the screen. The character designs draw heavily from the source material, but the animators were not afraid to make their mark. The voice cast is pretty solid all around, with Joel McHale (Johnny Cage) and Jennifer Carpenter (Sonya Blade) serving as the most noticeable names outside of the animation world. The script moves along at a good pace and offers some interesting twists and turns to go along with the buckets of blood. There are a lot of fun Easter eggs for fans of the series to pick up on throughout. This film is a dream come true for fans of these characters. It offers all manner of sadistic violence, great visuals and pays respect to the source material. There are a lot of interesting places they could take the story from here, so hopefully this release is successful enough to convince Warner Bros. to continue.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge comes to 4K UHD Blu-Ray from a 2K source. While the standard Blu-Ray is nothing to knock in the slightest, the 4K UHD Blu-Ray improves on it in multiple ways. The most obvious benefit of this presentation is the saturation quality and the vividness of the colors. The HDR enhancements are handled very well throughout the film with eye-popping benefits in Netherrealm’s magma landscape. 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.
The 4K UHD Blu-Ray disc offers the same DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that is present on the Blu-Ray, which is not a bad thing in the slightest. The track is totally immersive and offers some hard-hitting 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. Hearing Scorpion’s kunai traveling around and bursting through people is a delightfully twisted treat. Dialogue is balanced well 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. While I missed the “Mortal Kombat!” scream and score from the live action movies, I understand that is a guilty pleasure and the score provided here gets the job done. This very active track serves the kinetic energy of the movie very well.
- From Epic Game to Extreme Animation: A five-minute look at the legacy of the franchise and what makes it so unique. The creators give insight into why they felt this animated version was the perfect way to honor the games.
- The Weapons, Wardrobe and World of Mortal Kombat Legends: A seven-minute featurette on the look of the film and character origins. The creators of the film discuss why they wanted to costumes and weapons to be cool, but also functional and suited to the characters.
- Mortal Kombatants: A five-minute overview of the main players in the film and their place in the larger lore plus a spotlight of some of the smaller characters. Joel McHale (Johnny Cage) and Jennifer Carpenter (Sonya) pop up for some quick sound bites.
- The Savage Sound Design of Mortal Kombat Legends: A four-minute look into the squishy, bone-breaking sounds of the film and why it is so important to a franchise such as this one.
- Filmmaker Commentary: Producer Rick Morales and screenwriter Jeremy Adams give their excited thoughts on the film. The recording of the track is the first time one of them is seeing the finished product so there is some dead air at times while they take in what’s going on, but they do have some worthwhile stories from developing the film. Their passion for the franchise is apparent throughout.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is every bit as fantastically violent as a fan of the franchise would want it to be. The story does not strive to take the established lore in radically new directions, but it is a very entertaining initial chapter into a hopefully long-running animated series. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has provided a stellar looking and sounding 4K UHD Blu-Ray that fans should appreciate. This is a film that you are going to want to return to often, so do yourself a favor and grab this disc. Highly Recommended
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge 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 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.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.