Saturday, August 8, 2015
Webseries Review: Mortal Kombat Legacy Season 2
A few people were curious to know how I felt about this season. Well, to give a quick summary, I definitely liked it better than season one. Season one was more about backstories between certain characters without any real connection. Season two was about a tournament and the Earth warriors finally meeting. A very loose definition of a 'tournament' in the sense that there are no rules, no predetermined fights, no real direction and anything goes during the fight, but still a tournament. Besides wondering what exactly the rules are, I also have to wonder...where are some of the characters from season one? Where's Sonya? Yeah, I know Jeri Ryan is probably expensive, but the show replaced the actors for Johnny Cage, Shang Tsung and Raiden without any problem. Or did this happen when she was in the hospital for a week?
Rather than go through the series episode by episode, I thought it would be fun to do a breakdown based on characters:
Kung Lao: I know I'm going to probably get some heat for this, but I wasn't too fond of this version of Kung Lao. In the Mortal Kombat games, Kung Lao was impulsive. He wanted to prove that he was just as good as Liu Kang by sneaking into the tournament as a guard. He also had hair and a hat with a sharp edge on it. This Kung Lao is zen, bald, and has a hat made out of wicker. In the context of the series and what he does (mostly being a foil for Liu Kang) he isn't bad...but he also isn't great. Also, Raiden mentions that he can use 'elements to his advantage', which he really doesn't in the tournament. So yeah, was Raiden just telling him he was an excellent cook?
Liu Kang and Shang Tsung-Poor Liu Kang. The last few years have really not been kind to his character. First he was killed at the start of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, came back as a zombie in Mortal Kombat Armageddon, presumably died again, then was returned to life in the reboot Mortal Kombat 9, was accidently burned to death by Raiden, and has lived as a bitter undead shell ever since (at least twenty years or so according to Mortal Kombat 10). Mortal Kombat Legacy doesn't treat him any better, having made Liu Kang a bitter man who lost his girlfriend right after winning the tournament. That being said, trying to figure out this series in relation to the first Mortal Kombat is just confusing. Liu Kang was in the first Mortal Kombat and he knows Shang Tsung...but he has no idea who Johnny Cage is. So I guess it's not based on the movie? Or does Liu Kang have a really bad memory?
Brian Tee does a more than decent job as portraying a wounded Liu Kang, and plays off the spectacular Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa superbly. Yes, the original Shang Tsung, who commands the most presence on the screen without question. I find it interesting that he's both polite to a waitress and owns a hit squad, implying that he's spent considerable time on Earth, and I would have loved to have just an episode center on him.
Kitana and Mileena-this was just...eh for me. Both fighters are played by the same actresses in the first series, and this was a natural conclusion to their story arc, albeit a tad abrupt. Kitana turns on Mileena because...I guess she really didn't want her to fight an Earth warrior for some reason. It would have been nice to give her some more motivation, or at least have her talk to Raiden or some of the Earthrealm fighters before or after. But the only contact she had on the series was with Johnny Cage, who decided to flee rather than do anything else. Kitana does get some good lines with Mileena, so it wasn't too bad overall.
Johnny Cage and Stryker: Without a doubt this is my favorite version of Stryker, who is usually portrayed in the games as a cop with exceptional crossing guard skills. This one has a dry wit that matches well with Johnny Cage mocking him for bringing a gun to the tournament. I also like Johnny Cage's portrayal in Season two as well, particularly his fight scene with Liu Kang. That being said, I do wish they had expanded more on his conversation with Raiden instead of cutting away, but it's a minor complaint.
Kenshi and Ermac: Ugh. I like both characters in the game series, but this was forgettable to watch. Which is a shame, as this was a two-parter and the time could have really been spent on something better. But most of it is Kenshi just wandering around, not saying anything. I realize Ermac might be hard to portray in live action being a thousand spirits and all, but I didn't even know Kenshi was fighting him for the longest time. I honestly thought it was Reptile with a bad voice impression. This is probably the worst story in the series.
Sub-Zero and Scorpion: Yep, the outfits are still awful but marginally better. We've upgraded from pyjamas to hockey gear. That being said, however, I do like the relationship between Scorpion and Sub-Zero as they attempted peace before being to their inevitable fate. I would have liked to see how Raiden recruited Sub-Zero or his relationship between the Earth warriors more, which seemed like a wasted opportunity.
Raiden: Without a doubt the worst Raiden ever, which might have been solved if the actor playing him had some more screen time. But he didn't, and he doesn't look a thing like Raiden, so he gets no points. Which is a shame, because I think he had potential.
Overall, I liked the season better than the first. Yes, there were still backstories, but they didn't get in the way of the actual attempt at having a tournament. I also liked the fight scenes, visual effects, and the acting for the most part. Some of the fans were upset that this series ended in a cliffhanger, but it honestly didn't matter to me, although I could see some issues if they had to recast some of the actors. However Season three is in development at the time of this review, so hopefully we'll see a resolution:
Final Grade: 3.5 out of 5. The weaker characters and plot points drag down the excellent ones, but overall this is an enjoyable season to watch.