Episode 7 brings us into another two-part arc in Mortal Kombat: Legacy and focuses on two of the video games series' most famous and beloved characters, namely the ninjas Scorpion and Sub Zero. The rival ninjas are the like Wolverine in the X-men series in that filmmakers should know that if you want to have any kind of success in your adaptation, you at least have to not screw up this character. The question is, did director Kevin Tancharoen manage to that off?
First things first, the episode take place not in the modern world, but in feudal Japan. At least we assume so. They mention a shogun, and we're pretty sure that if shoguns were still around Japan would be famous for something other than tentacle porn. Or maybe not. What were we talking about again? Oh, right.
We can sum up the plot of the whole episode in one paragraph. Remember the scene in 300 when Leonidas is teaching his son how to be a warrior? OK, Leonidas is a ninja who throws a spear. That's the whole episode until Scorpion (Ian Anthony Dale) leaves to meet the shogun and is ambushed by Sub-Zero (Kevin Ohtsji), who reveals that the whole thing was a ploy to leave Scorpion's village undefended so Sub-Zero's Lin Kuei clan can kill Scorpion's Shirai Ryu clan.
Nobody fights. Nobody dies. The Scorpion and Sub-Zero we see are in no way related to the awesome versions we glimpsed in Mortal Kombat: Rebirth... unless we'll be dealing with them as resurrected specters in the present. Scorpion is already famously dead when the video game series starts, but Sub-Zero isn't. After Scorpion murders in him the first tournament he returns as the hilariously named Noob Saibot, and the storyline pretty much goes downhill from there.
We can say this; Dale brings a lot to the role of Scorpion as a regular man. We've known since the beginning of the video game series that Scorpion was seeking revenge against his murder and the murder of his clan, but even then it's kind of hard to feel sorry for a guy who impales people then reels them in like fish for a big uppercut. Don't get us wrong, that's fun as all get out, but it's not exactly the kind of behavior that invokes sympathy.
By contrast, we have nothing to go on with Ohtsji's Sub-Zero. He and his group are as clichéd as bad guys can possibly be. No nuance, no depth, hell, no lines for the most part. C'mon, Tancharoen, you've got to get us at least a little reason. Tell us Scorpion stole Sub-Zero's iPod or blasts ICP at full volume at 3:00 AM or something. Who murders women and children just on some vaguely evil whim? Anakin Skywalker, that's who. We've entered Star Wars prequel territory here. God help us all.
To be fair, this is part one of a two-parter, and of the three of those we've seen so far this one stand as its own episode the least. It is more or less impossible to give Tancharoen his props or his whacks with any real firm ground to stand on. With that said, we'll hold off final judgment until next week.
We don't have much hope for where this is going, though, and frankly we just do not see how all this can tie together with only 20 minutes left to go in the series. It's becoming pretty clear that MK:L is not a series in the sense that something like True Blood is a series, but is instead a collection of character-based vignettes that may possibly be of some use as the inspiration for a theatrical release in the future.
We had hoped that a project of this size and notoriety could serve as the springboard for the medium of web series to shine as its own entity rather than the ill-loved stepchild of movies and TV. Perhaps that's too much to hope for. After all, studios do not want to give too much endorsement to a medium that any and all can contribute to. The populace might just rise up and make something that new and original. Can't have that, now can we?
Be sure to check out what we thought of the earlier episodes.