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Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge Gives Fans a Gory Good Time

Ever since the mid-’90s, the Mortal Kombat game franchise has seen multiple attempts to make it on the big screen, or at least adapted into other media.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge (2020)

5 / 5
3.5 / 5

Ever since the mid-’90s, the Mortal Kombat game franchise has seen multiple attempts to make it on the big screen. Mortal Kombat has seen multiple films, two different television series, a miniseries, and a serial, all of which had varying degrees of success.

In comes Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, the newest attempt to turn MK into a film franchise, courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation: the studio behind the modern DC animated films. Scorpion’s Revenge marks Warner Bros. Animation’s newest attempt to spawn a new animated cinematic universe based on a beloved property, and for a first attempt, it’s rather special.

Fans of Mortal Kombat have been through the wringer when trying to get a faithful adaptation of the video game franchise. The key feature that has made it stand out among its fighting game contemporaries was never featured: the visceral blood and gore. It’s crazy to think that it has taken nearly thirty years to showcase a Mortal Kombat film with its iconic, brutal violence, but here we finally are.

mortal kombat scorpions revenge
Goro (left) takes on Jax Briggs (right) in one of the movie’s most visceral fights

Saying that Scorpion’s Revenge is violent is a major understatement. Through the brisk eighty-minute runtime, Scorpion’s Revenge showcases a nearly non-stop barrage of action violence seldom seen in animated films from the West. Scorpion’s Revenge rarely ever sits down to take a breather, and not chuck the most eye-popping gore a direct-to-video animated film can muster. Unfortunately, the lack of downtime leads to the largest issue of Scorpion’s Revenge. Even if the movie is over quickly, the sheer amount of fast-paced violence you’re subjected to gets exhausting fast. More often than not, I’ve complained about films being far too long and taking too much time to get to the point, however, Scorpion’s Revenge is the exact opposite: this film needs way more time to settle down and come to its senses every once and a while; the sheer endless graphic violence gets too much to handle even for someone who’s a dedicated fan of the franchise! Past all the pacing complaints with the action, those acquainted with Mortal Kombat’s legacy of carnage know what they’re getting themselves into, but people uninitiated in the arts of grotesque fatalities should be forewarned.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge helms one other fatal flaw: the story. Obviously, this film is going for an origin story of MK’s most iconic character, so we’re going to get a lot of information fans already know, and at the end of the day, that’s all we get except for the grizzly violence. Once again, we get another retelling of the first Mortal Kombat tournament that all of the now-iconic characters partook in back in the first game. For those unaware, Mortal Kombat fans have seen the events of the initial game not only portrayed in said first game, but the first live-action film, the ninth game of the franchise (I’m not kidding), and this movie, as well as being referenced near countless times in all other forms of Mortal Kombat media. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of seeing the same story told over and over again. Scorpion’s Revenge does streamline the story considerably to get to the point, making small changes here and there, but the few changes that are made act as a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it quickens the film to a degree that we can just get to the point faster and roll credits at a respectable timeframe, but on the other, we get moments of characters just teleporting to locations for their fights, and the Mortal Kombat tournament as a whole is seemingly forgotten about for nearly the entire second act. Also, our title character is completely forgotten for a considerable amount of the film. If you’re heading into this film thinking you’re getting a sole Scorpion tale, you’ll be viewing his origin story at the beginning of the film, however, the spotlight is frequently ripped from him to showcase other characters through the rest of the narrative. I understand that when we’re seemingly adapting the first game’s story yet again that there are more characters at play than just Scorpion, yet this is Scorpion’s movie, not Sonya’s, Liu Kang’s, or Jonny Cage’s.

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Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, and Liu Kang (left to right)

While there are considerable pacing and story issues in Scorpion’s Revenge, there’s a bit to admire when looking at the film’s diversity. Mortal Kombat always had a major strength as a game franchise by having a large roster of diverse characters from different races, genders, or other origins, but we often found our female characters consistently dressed in rather sexist attire. Scorpion’s Revenge remedies this long-standing issue by taking character design cues from the most recent Mortal Kombat game: MK 11, where female characters wear real clothes this time around, and not strips of fabric that are one rip away from going X-rated. The character of Sonya Blade also receives a retooling in this film, not just giving her more to wear, but also helming a small arc about her overcoming continuous sexism in her daily life; the solution is seemingly always a fist to the face or a foot to the groin, but she’s never been more fierce in this franchise.

Scorpion’s Revenge boasts a rather great voice cast to add to the whole shebang, with consistently great performances from everyone, yet there’s a slight lack of diversity in the voice cast. Plenty of POCs are given some side roles, including roles for Black and Asian actors, and we do get Sonya as one of the leading ensemble characters. Sadly, some of the Asian character roles are filled by white voice actors, such as Kitana, Shang Tsung, and even our title character: Scorpion. An argument can be made that Kitana’s role is so minor that it may not be too much of an issue, yet Shang Tsung and of course, Scorpion are prominently featured throughout the movie.

Mortal kombat revenge

If you’re in the market for visceral, gory action, Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge will more than suffice. Fans of the series will get some fanservice, and series newcomers will get an insight into Mortal Kombat’s most iconic fighter and other major players. Keep in mind that although the animation is rather fantastic for an animated film, you’re going to need a strong stomach to endure the ceaseless gore that’s to come.

-Ethan Parker