2021 may be one of the best years in recent history for Mortal Kombat fans. Earlier this year, fans were treated to a gory, live-action movie adaptation of the popular fighting game. However, the live-action version is not the only Mortal Kombat movie being released this year. Today, August 31, Warner Bros. released the animated Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms. It serves as a direct follow-up to the prior animated feature, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge.
Warning: major spoilers for Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms ahead!
Plot Summary of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms:
Although Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms tries to tell more stories than it can handle, the plot ultimately centers around two main stories: another Mortal Kombat tournament and Shinnok’s plot to destroy the realms.
The first plot centers on Liu Kang and the other fighters from Earthrealm. These fighters include those from the last movie — Raiden, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, and Jax — as well as new additions, Stryker and Kung Lao. Together, they fight an invasion from Outworld, but it quickly stops when Shao Khan arrives on Earth to offer Raiden a deal. Instead of continuing the invasion, Khan suggests he and Raiden petition the Elder Gods for another, “final” Mortal Kombat tournament. Wanting to end the conflict once and for all, Raiden agrees.
Once permitted for another tournament, the fighters of the various realms engage in numerous, bloody battles. Aside from Johnny Cage, the fighters from Earth win their battles on the first day of the tournament. However, on the second day, they begin to take heavy losses. Shao Khan rips Kung Lao in half and kills Raiden by crushing his neck. Enraged by Raiden’s death, Liu Kang retaliates and manages to defeat Shao Khan. In doing so, Liu Kang is declared the champion of Mortal Kombat.
The second plot of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms centers around Scorpion and runs concurrently with the tournament. Scorpion is on the run after learning that his soul was merged with a key that unlocks a vault containing the Kamidogu, the last remnant of the One Being. If combined with the other remnants, its power could destroy the realms. Naturally, the evil Shinnok wants to obtain the Kamidogu, so he can destroy the realms.
Despite his best efforts, Scorpion is eventually taken captive by the cyborgs Cyrax and Sektor. They take him to the vault and force him to open it. Once opened, the cyborgs attempt to kill Scorpion. But, he is saved by Sub Zero, who wants to kill Scorpion for killing his brother Bi-Han. The two fight, allowing the cyborgs to escape with the Kamidogu. Once delivered to Shinnok, he combines the Kamidogu with the other remnants and embraces the power of the One Being.
At this point, both plotlines converge. The elder gods grant Liu Kang, the tournament champion, their power to fight Shinnok as he attempts to destroy the realms. With the power of the elder gods, Liu Kang transforms into a dragon, bests Shinnok, and saves the realms.
The Action and Gore:
Much like its predecessor, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, and the games that inspired it, this movie is filled with action and gore. Characters like Sub Zero, Sonya Blade, and Shao Khan are fighting in nearly every scene. Although many of the fights tend to be shorter than desired, they accurately showcase the fighting styles of the characters.
But, what would a Mortal Kombat fight be without gore? Thankfully, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms does not attempt to answer that question. In the movie, buckets of blood spill from mouths and wounds alike. Whether a character is stabbed, thrown, or just punched, there is physical damage shown, and it is often graphic. The movie wisely features the franchise’s signature x-ray, slow-motion impacts, showcasing all of the internal damage the fighters are causing one another.
From arms being ripped off to characters being impaled, the action and gore are unsurprisingly the best parts of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms and are sure to please fans of the series.
The Characters of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms:
One of the best aspects of the Mortal Kombat games has always been its cast of characters. From the wise-cracking Johnny Cage to the acrobatic but lethal Mileena, the characters and their various fighting styles are what makes Mortal Kombat interesting. Otherwise, it would be just another series of fighting games and movies.
Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms fails its beloved set of characters. The focus of the film centers primarily on Liu Kang and Scorpion. While these characters are undoubtedly deserving of their own movies, this forces them to overshadow everyone else present. This is especially disappointing since most of the film’s more memorable moments feature Johnny Cage, who is spectacularly voiced by Joel McHale.
The Problem with the Plot:
The most significant problem with Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is the plot. There is simply too much going on for a movie that is less than 80 minutes long. The Liu Kang and Scorpion-centric plotlines could easily stand alone as their own features. By cramming them both into one movie, it makes the movie feel too short yet too long at the same time. The simple act of bouncing between them from scene to scene makes the movie feel extended and overpacked. But, since neither story is fully fleshed out and told with the level of detail needed, it makes the entire experience ultimately unfulfilling. That is not even counting the love story subplot that takes place between Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, which is also sadly unfulfilling.
Ultimately, super fans of Mortal Kombat, especially those who always choose Liu Kang or Scorpion, will more than likely enjoy Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms. It has plenty of action, gore, and fan service, including Scorpion yelling his iconic line, “GET OVER HERE!” However, more casual fans or those unfamiliar with Mortal Kombat may find the movie to be more of a chore to watch.
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