The first episode of the new Mortal Kombat webseries has already drawn millions of viewers, and a possible full movie deal is already in the works. Tuesday brought us the second episode, and expectations for another killer ride were high despite some rather tragic dialogue and cliché plotlines from the first episode. What do you expect from a martial art movie based on a video game?
We left off as Jax (Michael Jai White) and Kano (Darren Shalavi) were blown apart during their duel by a accidentally let off explosive round. However, little to know damage seems to have been done, and the fight continues unabated.
One way to look at this episode is as the first real video game moment in the series. Jax vs. Kano. Fight! In that regard, what we got was a stellar look at what a classic match-up in the series would look like if choreographed and shot by a film director invested in realism rather than spazzed out through the hands of gamers.
Jax utilizes a sort of American boxing style mixed with shades of Lion's Den shootfighting and the deadly artistic flourishes of Mixed Matial Arts star Kazushi Sakuraba. Kano, by contrast, seems deeply shaken by the length of the fight, and his loose, thuggish technique is almost casually broken through by the larger Jax. It was mentioned in the first episode that no one had yet survived an encounter Kano.
Kano tries for the upper hand via psychology by claiming to have tortured Jax's kidnapped part net Sonya (Jeri Ryan). He has no idea that Sonya has escaped Kano's prison and is pursuing them both during the fight. Kano's boasts do little but numb Jax to what little damage Kano is dishing out, and the whole thing ends with what we'd call the first fatality except Kano survives it.
There's no delicate way to put this... Jax punches Kano so hard his eye shoots out and splatters against the camera. As cool as that sounds, it was also a little disappointing.
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No one watching this series, having seen a two-eyed Kano, could possibly have doubted that he wouldn't lose a peeper in some sort of gory way and require the implanting of his famous red mechanical one. Likewise, since the basis of the entire series so far seems to be the robotics and cybernetics black market, no one could possibly not see Jax upgrading to his MKIII cyber arms. Sure enough, minutes after he makes Kano incapable of depth perception an errant grenade sends him and Sonya to a Department of Defense hospital where Jax will be fixed.
Don't get us wrong, this is still not only the greatest adaptation of Mortal Kombat ever attempted, it's also the only video game cinema project outside of Final Fantasy: Advent Children that doesn't make you feel like a movie studio is just trying to keep you distracted while they rape your mom. However, we've been promised shake-ups, and everything that happened in episode 2 was predictable right down to the camera angles.
If episodes 1 and 2 had been released in a single 20 minute block instead of trying to sell us a cliff hanger bomb ending at the end of first one that absolutely no one was going to believe would kill either character we wouldn't be having this conversation. We'd still be screaming like a little girl in love. As it is, we're going to have to knock off some points for not quite digging deep enough and trying to cover that lack with a big splash of red.
Seriously, though, that eye punch is pretty cool.