Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge offers a new perspective on the familiar Mortal Kombat story by making Scorpion’s arc the spine of the narrative. Though the film starts strong by showcasing the tragedy that made Scorpion the hellfire-infused Kombatant we all know and love, it’s not long before it becomes encumbered by franchise fan service and collapses under the weight. Still, this animated flick is full of the grisly ultraviolence and irreverent charm that has made Mortal Kombat such a violent delight for all these years, so you’ll definitely get what you came for, but not much else.The film starts by showing us the human side of Scorpion, Hanzo Hasashi (voiced by Patrick Seitz), and the devastating reason he wants revenge. As events unfold, the movie starts to bear a striking resemblance to X-Men Origins: Wolverine where Scorpion is transformed into a killing machine who lays waste to everyone who gets in his way. There’s even a cheesy scene about where his name comes from. It’s tough to root for the guy when he doesn’t have much in the way of weaknesses or personal flaws; he’s there to kick ass and spear people through the face, which he does time and time again to visceral results.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge
(Want to know the real thing Scorpion needs to get revenge for? Being left out of Mortal Kombat 3! Not putting Scorpion in a Mortal Kombat game is like leaving Batman out of Injustice. It’s inconceivable!)
If ever there was a time to slow things down and dig into the franchise mascot, it was this film, yet all we ever see is how much pain he can take and then dish out, over and over again. How did he learn to control his new powers? How does he feel about losing his humanity and becoming a skeletal fire demon? The film isn’t interested in going more than skin deep with its protagonist, so we never find out.
Though we get a lot of time with Scorpion up front, he’s relegated to the B-story for the rest of the film once the Mortal Kombat tournament kicks off. The movie’s biggest problem is that it tries to do the epic Mortal Kombat tournament arc on top of a more personal Scorpion story and ends up doing justice to neither. The second half of the movie becomes a rapid series of fight scenes, character cameos, and plot twists of questionable logic.
(Yeah, I know they added Scorpion to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, but my parents wouldn’t buy it for me because I “already had a Mortal Kombat 3,” so this will forever be a sticking point for me.)
Granted, it is the fights that are the main attraction, and not only are there plenty of them but they’re all a bloody good time to watch. Energetic, stylish, and drenched in excessive amounts of blood, guts, and brains, they go way, way over-the-top in authentic Mortal Kombat fashion. The character animation, though stiff during dialogue-heavy scenes, looks fantastic in motion.The secret ingredient in the cast proves to be Johnny Cage (voiced by Joel McHale), whose self-aware humor keeps things fun and lively. That said, his budding “romance” with Sonya Blade (voiced by Jennifer Carpenter) is full of nothing but cringey, outdated tropes that do nothing to help bolster either character.
As the film reaches its conclusion, it develops a serious case of cliffhanger-itis. We all love our stingers that tease what’s coming in the sequel, but nearly every plot thread is left hanging in unsatisfying fashion, as though this was a TV show pilot instead of a movie.