It's been two years since Kevin Tancharoen finished the first season of his Mortal Kombat web series, a daring if at times flawed reimagining of the Mortal Kombat universe that was nonetheless an incredible accomplishment in the world of web series. We covered it avidly, and are pleased to see that Season 2 is finally on its way complete with a recently revealed trailer showing us what to expect.
Clearly the budget for the series has been upped considerably, not that a lack of funds ever seemed to hurt the first season except when it came time to have Kitana wield her bladed fans. Sam Tjhia seems to be more confident and deadly as the Outworld Princess this time around, though her outfit is still ridiculous. Michelle Lee replaces Jolene Tran as her mutated twin Mileena, and Lee seems to be bringing a bit more bite to the role than Tran. We'll have to see if she has the fight chops, as the all too brief battle between the sisters was not only one of the bright spots of their poorly thought out segment, but maybe the top fight scene of the series.
The biggest news from the trailer is that Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa has been cast as tournament organizer Shang Tsung. Tagawa played the sorcerer in the original Mortal Kombat movie, and was arguably the only truly enjoyable part of that horrid Hollywood experiment in video game cinema. Not only did he hold his own as a warrior against Robin Shou's Liu Kang, but he displayed all the brilliant menace of a Hammer Horror villain.
He features heavily in the trailer, which is appropriate as he is arguably the biggest star involved and the season is supposed to focus more on the tournament itself this time around. I don't know if we'll get much kung fu out of the 62-year-old actor, but it's clear his ability to invoke sinister evil has only gotten better with age. Plus, he has even begun to uncannily resemble the original aged Tsung for the first game. I can't imagine that any scene Tagawa is in will be anything less than pure awesome.
Not all the recasting news is good, unfortunately. None of the cast of the Jax/Sonya/Kano segments are returning, and that is a damn shame. Darren Shahlavi's Kano jumpstarted the series as a criminal mastermind worthy of one of the better Die Hards, and Michael Jai White and Jeri Ryan brought Hollywood clout to the two-part episode that paid off brilliantly. Their gritty, realistic story left off very unresolved, with both Jax and Kano receiving the cybernetic augments that define their characters, and it would be a real shame if this was the end of it.
More heartbreaking is the loss of Ryan Robbins as Lord Raiden. The Raiden story, which found the Thunder God imprisoned in an insane asylum, drugged, lobotomized, and desperate to escape was the best thing about Season 1 even though there was almost no action at all. It was good enough to be a short film in its own right, and as I covered American Horror Story: Asylum this last year all I could think about the whole time was Mortal Kombat: Legacy did it better. You don't get to see much of David Lee McInnis in the role in the trailer, but he's got a high bar to clear,
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On the whole, Season 2 looks to focus on Liu Kang and the continuing story of Scorpion. Kang, played by Brian Tee, seems to be something of a broken man seeking his own destruction in the Mortal Kombat tournament, which is a departure from the more one-dimensional hero he is known for. It feels just a tad too emo at the moment, but we'll have to see how it plays out in the larger context.
In any case Ian Anthony Dale is back as Scorpion. You can pretty much lay the buzz and success of Mortal Kombat: Rebirth right at the feet of Dale's portrayal of the ninja, and even though he wasn't dealt the best script in Season 1 he still managed to make Scorpion a role we could love and believe in. More exposition on the history of the Lin Kuei sagas appears to be on the table, but it's equally clear that we'll finally get to see Scorpion in spectre form in action. It's about damned time.
All in all, Mortal Kombat: Legacy did wonders for the art form that is the web series by changing all the rules when it comes to big money franchises. It has its missteps, and there were places where frankly it was very apparent Warner Bros. was keeping a leash on Tancharoen to market research how best to move forward with the upcoming feature film, but on the whole it was a grand endeavor that might be the best official video game adaptation of all time. Check out the trailer below, and you can bet we'll be here to cover Season 2 when it goes live on Machinima.com later this year.