[Screen It]


(1997) (Robin Shou, Sandra Hess) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
None Minor Moderate Mild Mild
Moderate Minor Mild None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor None Minor Mild Extreme

Action/Adventure: A group of young warriors must battle an evil emperor who's set upon conquering Earth.
After the end of the original Mortal Kombat tournament, the Earth-based combatants, Liu Kang (ROBIN SHOU), their leader, Sonya Blade (SANDRA HESS), Earth's toughest female warrior, and Johnny Cage (CHRIS CONRAD), a Hollywood action hero, feel victorious because they have defeated the forces from Outworld. No sooner are they celebrating than the evil Emperor Shao-Kahn (BRIAN THOMPSON) arrives with his forces proclaiming that he'll kill all Earthlings in the next six days.

The mortal warriors' chief ally, Rayden (JAMES REMAR), the God of Thunder and Lightning and protector of the Earth realm, prepares them for battle with the help of Princess Kitana (TALISA SOTO), a refugee from Outworld. Soon the battle begins on Earth and in other realms, and the young warriors are joined by new members Jax (LYNN RED WILLIAMS), a muscle- bound man with mechanical arm attachments that increase his strength, Jade (IRINA PANTAEVA), who partners with Liu, and the Native American shaman Nightwolf (LITEFOOT), who assists in Liu's final training.

They must deal with Kahn's forces that include Sindel (MUSETTA VANDER), a resurrected dead queen, Sheeva (MARJEAN HOLDEN), a four-armed female creature; and Motaro (DERON MCBEE), a large and meanspirited centaur. As the battles continue, the warriors race to defeat Kahn and his forces before time runs out.

If they're fans of the original movie or of the video game from which both are based, they probably will. Otherwise, it's not very likely.
For nonstop martial arts violence.
This one's drawn straight down the good and evil line. While everyone throws enough punches and kicks for several martial arts films, the young warriors are essentially all decent role models while the villains, of course, are not.


OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
I'll begin this review my admitting that I have never seen the original movie, nor have I ever played the video game from which this is based (although I have seen bits of it in action). That said, this film seems certain to please fans of the series which in this case is primarily adolescent males if our audience was any indication. As the movie's signature musical theme cranked up, the guys' silhouetted heads began bobbing to the beat and throughout the film their cheers to the on screen mayhem proved they were enjoying what they were seeing.

With the original film generating an unexpected and somewhat mind-boggling $20+ million gross during its opening weekend that then continued until topping out at more than $70 million domestically, it seems certain that New Line Cinema and Midway Games executives will again be pleasantly surprised. Pretending to be nothing more than what it is on the surface, this film should hit the mark again and bring in droves of action-hungry teenagers to the theaters.

There's not a great deal to say about the film itself. You're either a fan and will love it, or you'll wonder what's happened to today's film making. Essentially a big screen version of the extremely popular video game, the plot is purely skeletal in design. Its structure is there simply upon which to hang one fight scene after another. Much like a video game (what a surprise!), our "players" are usually outnumbered and outclassed, yet they manage to find a way to persevere, even when more "bad guys" pop up out of nowhere.

With more than enough martial arts action to make the likes of Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme green with envy, and enough spinning, flipping, and cartwheeling to fill a gymnastics competition, the film is certainly never boring to watch. The combat scenes and stunt work are often quite spectacular with all of the fists, feet and bodies flying this, that, and every other way, all of which should feed the typical adolescent male's need for some good on screen butt kicking.

Personally, I prefer Jackie Chan movies for that type of adrenaline release, mainly because all of his stunts are one hundred percent real, and they're so much more fun. While there are a few sparse moments of humor in this film, it's mostly serious game playing type material. All of the hitting, punching and kicking gets a bit numbing after a while, however, and a bit more humor would not only have made the film a lot more fun, but probably also more accessible for wider audiences.

Of course I'm trying to "fix" what's essentially a violent, no-nonsense video game on celluloid -- the word "Mortal" in the title should be a dead give away. This film is designed simply to thrill a certain albeit somewhat large segment of the audience who want to see nothing more than what it is, and has been in the past. Fans of the series probably wouldn't like anyone tampering with the formula, and who can blame them. After all, where else can you watch people continuously being hit so hard by punches and kicks that would otherwise dent a steel door and then have the recipients of such action keep coming back for more? Okay, most Hollywood action films are guilty of that.

However, you won't always see people flipping, flying and cartwheeling their way across the screen (the characters' favorite ways of moving about). For pure comic book style action/violence, you probably won't go wrong with this film -- if you're a fan of the series, you'll most likely love it. If not, at least be happy that once the end credits roll you won't feel the need to dump a pocketful of quarters into the machines in the arcade. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" is not a great movie by any means -- or even a good movie -- but judged in the context of what it's trying to achieve, it works, and thus we give it a 4 out of 10.

A parent's biggest concern with this movie will probably be the nonstop martial arts fighting. While it's certainly never graphic and is always presented in an exaggerated comic book style, some of it is quite bone-jarring and maliciously intended. There are a few deaths that again aren't graphic, but there's enough martial arts hitting, punching, kicking, flipping, et al. that younger kids might try to imitate what they've seen (put away all the breakables before the kids get home). A few elements might be somewhat scary for very young kids, but this is a PG-13 rated film, so really young children should probably be kept at home. Beyond just a little bit of swearing, the rest of the categories are rather void of objectionable material. Still, you should read through the listings if you're concerned about what your kids might see in this film.

  • None.
  • Both Rayden and Kahn have just a tiny amount of blood or scratches on their bodies after fights.
  • There are a few instances where bodies dissolve away into skeletons, but it's all rather bloodless and not very gory.
  • Obviously Kahn and his followers have both as they've set out to conquer Earth, but all of it's done in such a comic book fashion that it never feels that serious.
  • The film does turn one female vs. female fight scene into the Mortal Kombat equivalent of a female mud wrestling contest, and Jax even comments to Sonya that she looks good in mud.
  • Rayden asks about Jade, "Can she fight as good as she looks?" and Jax says that she's got great legs, and then adds, "For kicking."
  • Some viewers may find the many fight scenes to be tense as well.
  • The images of several monsters may frighten younger children, as might a few people turning into skeletons, as well as the often dark and foreboding locales the heroes find themselves in.
  • Liu hears strange animal sounds around him and is then attacked by a wolf that transforms into Nightwolf.
  • Two characters turn into menacing looking monsters as they fight, and their appearances might be scary for younger viewers.
  • Martial arts weapons (knives, swords, etc...): Used during some of the fights.
  • Explosives: Shot by some of the villains toward the warriors. They blow up parts of a cave and a lab.
  • Obviously, for preteens, the lure of all of the martial arts kicking and punching may be too much to resist.
  • Kitana spits out whatever she drinks onto Kahn's face.
  • There are several instances where sudden sounds and music, or attacking people disrupt silent scenes.
  • Most of the film's music falls into the action variety, although there are a few scenes with just a bit of traditional suspense oriented music in them.
  • None.
  • 4 hells, 3 damns, 1 ass and 1 "My God" are used as exclamations.
  • Kitana's outfit reveals just a minor bit of cleavage.
  • None.
  • Kitana must deal with the return of her dead mother who now is evil and works for Kahn. She tells her, "I've never loved you. You were such a pathetic child..." Although that sounds bad, it's nearly a nonissue (since it's not really her mother) and is only played upon in one or two scenes.
  • Rayden must deal with having an evil father and brother.
  • The film does somewhat imply that violence is a good way to take care of problems (since there are obviously no diplomatic alternatives here).
  • The film espouses the following themes (and says them verbally): "Alone you are vulnerable if you work together as a team you can do much" and "Don't underestimate the power of the human spirit."
  • All of the martial arts action and how it shouldn't be imitated in the house.
  • For the more religious viewers, the film does focus on a polytheism of sorts where several gods are mentioned.
  • The film is filled with nearly nonstop fight sequences where both the warriors and villains punch, hit, kick and attack each other in nearly every way imaginable. While they block many of the violent acts, many do land on people's bodies and faces (but without any apparent lasting damage).
  • There are also scenes where the warriors are attacked by knives, swords, and other martial arts weapons as well as what appears to be some sort of energy bolts.
  • Kahn breaks one of the warrior's necks, killing him.
  • Kahn knocks one of his subordinates into a fire, presumably killing him. Later, another man falls into the same fire while fighting Liu.
  • There are several instances where the villains fire varying types of explosives at the warriors who duck out of the way. Parts of caves explode, however, as does a lab.
  • A woman destroys canyon walls with her siren like yell that nearly hits the group of warriors.
  • A woman is crushed by a large cage that falls on her (the impact isn't seen).
  • A monster comes out of a wall and eats a woman (not explicitly seen).
  • A man is knocked from atop a temple and lands hard on the ground, and dies moments later.

  • Reviewed November 21, 1997

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