Art Attack has covered the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series from its very beginning because our hopes were high. First, Kevin Tancharoen's self-made short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth broke all the rules. Second, we had never heard of such a high-profile entertainment franchise being adapted to a strictly web-based format, and the idea made us giddy.
The series has had its ups, like the phenomenal episode focusing on Raiden's incarceration in a mental institute. It's had its downs, like the epic failure of style and substance that was the two-part awkwardathon that was Kitana and Mileena's feature.
Now, we come to the long-awaited final episode of the first season. The series has been on hold for months now since Tancharoen wished to debut the finale at the San Diego Comic Con. Seemed a cheap move in our eyes, but we understand the reasoning behind it.
So we waited, and the only thing we knew about the episode is that it was to feature the cyborg ninjas Cyrax and Sektor. Our anticipation built. Tancharoen stated in a few interviews that the series was not meant to be considered a linear progression so much as a series of individual parts like Animatrix. What that said to us was that he had surely saved the best for last.
He didn't. He so, so didn't.
The episode chronicles the transformation of two ninjas into cyborgs, and their battle testing. Absolutely no character buildup is used for the two main players. In fact, aside from some screaming, we're pretty sure that each only has one line of dialogue each. Instead, all the effort has been spent on painful footage of bonding metal to flesh, and the final fight scene between three fully roboticized kombatants.
Here's the rub... why should we care?
Seriously, who are these guys? Why are they being turned into robots? Why is one of them bleeding in the beginning? Did he try to run away? It's like they tried to make an action movie with just the money shots, and that does not work. You have to make the audience feel at least something for the characters, otherwise it all seems pointless.
This is doubly sad because Cyrax and Sektor are two of our favorite characters. However, their best moments are post-augmentation. Not the augmentation itself. Cyraz spends his robotic life in an effort to regain his humanity, joining the U.S. Special Forces and turning against the ninja clan that attempted to rob him of it. He's a tragic figure, like Ben Grimm as the Thing, and his struggles with the abomination he has become make for some of our favorite moments in the game series.
By contrast, Sektor adores his new form, and usurps the Lin Kuei in order to force the entire clan to become as he is. In short, he has become exactly as his creators had hoped, and in doing so surpassed them and eliminated them. Personally, we'd always hoped that Sektor would rise to be a main villain in at least one game. Mysticism versus technology. How could you lose with that fight?
Instead, Tanacharoen bet his lot on an audience being satisfied with some torture porn surgery footage and a fight scene between robots. Hey, how can they mess up a fight scene between robots?
The fight scene is just sad. Really, it is. Massive props to whoever was in charge of the look of the robots and the fluidity of movement in the suits because they are spot-on perfect. It's what they're doing, however, that, fails to deliver.
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Yes, the three-way battle is full of incredible flips, spin kicks, and flourishes, but for some reason it is all slightly off. Unlike previous fight scenes in the series, the fact that each hit is merely a trick of the camera angle is woefully apparent. Maybe it's the well-lit setting. Maybe it's that the actors are thrown off from being in the costumes. Whatever the reason, while we were watching it it was impossible to not see the theatre of it.
Yes, of course the fight scenes are fake. We know that. But you're supposed to be able to pretend that it's real. That's what makes wrestling fun. When Cyrax, Sektor, and a new character laughably named Hydro go at it, we were unable to suspend disbelief.
We know that Tancharoen is planning a second season and possibly a film as well. Our hope is that he will map out the future a little more cohesively next time. This was not worth a two-month wait any more than Guns 'n Roses' Chinese Democracy was worth the wait between it and Use Your Illusion (commenters, don't even think about bringing up the Spaghetti Incident).
So ends a grand experiment. If we had to grade the entire series on a scale of one to 10, we'd give it maybe a 6.5. Raiden and Johnny Cage took the series to the heights. Kano, Sonya, and Jax had a very respectable showing. Kitana and Mileena almost ruined it, and everything ninja was pretty poorly done. Our conclusion? Kevin Tancharoen is a pirate.