Home Entertainment Review: Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms (Warner Bros)

“I think I’ll get some shut-eye, while I can, if I can, because I’m on another world, in an evil dictator’s castle. Totally normal!” Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the […]

“I think I’ll get some shut-eye, while I can, if I can, because I’m on another world, in an evil dictator’s castle. Totally normal!”

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is a 2021 Warner Bros Home Entertainment release. It’s a direct sequel to the 2020 film, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, both of which were directed by Ethan Spaulding.  The two screenplays were written by Jeremy Adams. The story is based on the long-running, ultra-gory video game franchise created by Ed Boone and John Tobias and produced by Midway Games in 1992. The hyperbolic hysteria surrounding the game’s splattery, visceral fatalities was partially responsible for the creation of the ESRB, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

After the events of Scorpion’s Revenge, Mortal Kombat is over. The tournament has ended, and the fighters of Earthrealm are victorious. Enraged by the humiliation of Shang Tsung (Artt Butler), Shao Kahn (Fred Tatasciore) mounts an invasion. The immortal thunder god Raiden (Dave B. Mitchell), defender of the Earthrealm, devises an inspired strategy that he hopes will kneecap Shang Tsung’s plans as well as stop the endless cycle of tournaments set up by the Elder Gods.

Raiden is weary of kicking the can down the road every fifty years, watching young fighters become grandparents and then their children, and their children’s children.  This time, this cycle, he thinks he has a secret weapon, and he wants to bet all of his chips on the whole ball of wax.  He petitions the Elder Gods to call for one final Mortal Kombat tournament, winner takes all. There is a heavy price for his request, but Raiden accedes for the good of the realm he’s sworn to protect.

He gathers Earth’s champions, Johnny Cage (Joe McHale), Sonya Blade (Jennifer Carpenter), Lui Kang (Jordan Rodrigues), Jax Briggs (Ike Amadi), Kurt Stryker (Matthew Mercer), and Kung Lao (Matthew Yang King) to prepare them for the challenge ahead.

Unfortunately, Raiden is not the only one making plans. The Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei clan (Paul Nakauchi) has been tasked with recovering the rogue assassin, Scorpion (Patrick Seitz). Fearing his agents will not be powerful or skilled enough, he forces Sektor (Mitchell) and Cyrax (Butler) to submit to a cybernetic enhancement process. Horrified by this betrayal, Kuai Lang (Bayardo De Murguia) and Smoke (Mercer) attempt to flee. Only Lang is able to make his escape. He has his own motivations for finding and killing Scorpion, who has murdered his older brother, Sub Zero. He goes after Scorpion alone, with the Grandmaster’s minions tracking his every move.

Shao Kahn musters his own troops for the final showdown, and the last battle for all the realms begins. Meanwhile, plots and schemes percolate behind the scenes, threatening to spoil the plans of gods and clans.

A lot of things are off about this movie, from the clumsy animation and static backgrounds to the uninspired fight sequences and lazy dialogue, but what is most frustrating about it is the complete and repetitive violation of the rules the film has gone out of the way to set up. It’s not the abrupt spin from fights to flights of fancy, gods of thunder, and dragons of light, rather it’s how characters get bones smashed, spines shattered and thighs pierced through with spears, only to be fine moments later. A third of the characters should never be able to walk again, another third should’ve bled out mid-scene, but hey, it’s a cartoon, right?

The other thing about the fight scenes is that this is an animated martial arts tournament feature film by Warner Bros (whose animation department is typically top-notch), made in 2021. However, its fight scenes, choreography, and camera movements are completely outclassed by many other earlier animated films and TV shows. For example, Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, which premiered in 2005, a full sixteen years ago, on television, has fight scenes with far more fluidity and fealty to actual martial arts than anything Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms puts on screen. That’s a problem, or should be.

If you need to keep young teens entertained and neither they nor you are bothered by prodigious amounts of arterial spurt and entrails splashing across the screen, this film and its predecessor are for you. Otherwise, there is far better-animated fare out there for you to explore.

Special features include:
The God and the Dragon- Battling for Earthrealm: Jeremy Adams the writer, producer Rick Morales, and co-creator Ed Boone, as well as other members of the cast, discuss the sequel and the urge to bring something new to the screen. It was important for many characters to meet their demise, as the mortal part of the kombat needed to be stressed. They discuss how the sequel allows them to dig deeper into the characters and how the plot was structured to bring Liu Kang center stage. The goal of Lui Kang’s quest- not to kill Shang Tsung but to defeat Shao Kahn, was at the heart of narrative. Ultimately, they’re quite happy with the blood-soaked slaughterhouse they’ve committed to film.

Voices of KOMBAT: interviews with, and insider footage of the actors working in the sound booths while they evolve and craft their characters.

KOMBAT gags: gag reel, flubs, and outtakes.

Gallery: film cell still gallery. 

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is available to stream on all platforms as well as 4k Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and DVD right now.

About Dan Kleiner

Dan Kleiner is a strange visitor from another planet who resides in Brooklyn, New York with two cats and his amazing girlfriend. When not plotting world domination, he spends a great deal of his time watching movies and anime of all sorts, reading comic-books and book-books, studying politics and history and striving for the day when he graduates as a Class A-Weirdo.