Release Date(s): April 14. 2020 (Digital); April 28, 2020 (4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray)
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Director: Ethan Spaulding
After many years of not being serviced a proper feature film, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge has taken center stage as the frontline of the video game franchise that has been making a huge comeback in recent memory.
With a pretty standard screenplay by Jeremy Adams based on the basic origins of several familiar Mortal Kombat characters, the story takes place at the very beginning of the Scorpion character from the series. It doesn’t take long when tragedy strikes upon Hanzo Hasashi – his family slaughtered by the rival Lin Kuei clan – who later dubs himself as Scorpion after venturing into hell and back after a fierce confrontation with the murderous Sub-Zero.
The film is executed by director Ethan Spaulding, who worked on Avatar: The Last Airbender and a few DC movies before taking the helm of working on Scorpion’s Revenge. It’s a worthwhile effort, too. He doesn’t hold back from making certain decisions in regards to incorporating unique aesthetics from Mortal Kombat: X-Ray close-ups make a slashing appearance during the action sequences that was recently introduced in the video games series; the characters who appeared in the franchise’s inception are the main focus for the narrative instead of overloading the movie with multiple side figures; and obviously, Scorpion, whose development is so incredible in this 80-minute flick that it almost feels like I was watching a Greek tragedy told through an anime lens.
For so long, Scorpion has been recognized as one of the more famous characters from the Mortal Kombat series. Equipped with a deadly spear, a hellish teleportation strike, and a skeletal figure beneath the yellow attire, it was fantastic to see great respect and ferocious audacity performed by Patrick Seitz to bring this character to life sincerely.
Alongside the array of characters that appear, the violence is probably another character to keep in mind while watching these heroes fight. Taking direct inspiration from the video games themselves, the martial arts aesthetic and brutal encounters can definitely mark this as a mature play to experience. The X-ray close-ups mixed in with meat-crunchy sound effect delivery is sure to bring a smile to “kombat” enthusiasts who are eager to see these characters in action.
And it’s not just Seitz who greatly makes a human effort of bringing the titular character to life; it also has a fantastic cast who were rightly matched to their bloody counterparts. Jordan Rodrigues as Liu Kang, Jennifer Carpenter as Sonya Blade, and Joel McHale as Johnny Cage all make a great appearance into this animated fest. Overall, the voice acting is phenomenal and well-chosen. It was great to watch the stellar action scenes with the dedicated voice acting. Albeit personally, Joel McHale generates the ultimate Johnny Cage, and I was looking forward to each scene that included him due to the excellent writing and execution from writer Adams and actor McHale for their combined creative efforts.
While the voice acting, direction, and writing are pretty balanced, some of the animations seem slightly outdated. Some of the objects and strike transitions from the action scenes are a little screwy, but it’s not entirely distracting. It’s just within a basic outline of an anime bloodfest, and that can favor certain audiences as opposed to most. I can see this film being looked over by some just by how it looks, instead of looking at how it is presented. Indeed, the animation and action is nothing new, and the experience brings nothing new to the table of storytelling and action.
Quite contradictory though, the anime animation seems very fitting for the Mortal Kombat universe: it’s wild in its world-building, bloody in its sequences, and the characters can be easy to sympathize with during their shared mission within the film. Familiar with the series or not, the film does a fantastic job of re-introducing it’s first-born heroes, whether it’s your first or tenth time learning about Mortal Kombat‘s first characters and their inclusion with the kombat tournament itself. However, it may seem difficult to decipher who the target audience when it comes down to analyzing the film’s themes of redemption and trust.
Verdict: In the end, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is a slightly above average animated adventure that might appeal to some but maybe not a whole crowd. The first animated project of the series, after a couple of decades, the effort is well-met with the small cast of characters and world-building. Even though some of the animation and story decisions aren’t entirely satisfactory, the overall quest of Scorpion and some of Earthrealm’s champions was a great passive movie to watch during the continuous winning streak from the video game titles being produced by NetherRealm Studios.
- Voice cast is spot-on
- A grounded story that doesn't go overboard
- Overall writing and directing is solid
- Animation doesn't bring anything new to the table
- Passive film experience
C. Anthony Rivera is a freelance writer born and raised in the city of Chicago. Rivera graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Writing. And yes, deep dish pizza is the best.