When director Kevin Tancharoen - who helmed that remake of Fame of all things - cobbled together his own short version of a new film adaptation of Mortal Kombat and released it upon an unsuspecting and delighted internet, nobody ever believed that it might actually lead to a licensed film adaptation.
And it didn't. However, the suits at Warner Bros apparently realized that Tancharoen's new and groundbreaking vision was cubits ahead of whatever poorly thought out cash-in they were eventually planning to funnel all that sweet Batman into. They gave the man the go ahead to debut his MK universe as a web series starring Michael Jai White and Jeri Ryan. The ten episode series debuted today, and further episodes are due every Tuesday courtesy of Machinima http://www.machina.com. Art Attack will be gleefully covering every single drop of blood for the duration of the run.
Episode 1 waste no time in promising the moon to hardcore fans while at the same time shaking up what we know about these characters. We open in a factory run by the Black Dragon international crime cartel and its deadly leader Kano. Kano is not yet sporting the metallic eye that was his trademark, but his viciously amused demeanor leaves no doubt that our initial bad guy is MK's long-reigning thug king.
Interestingly enough, Darren Shahlavi's performance pays much homage to the first MK film. It was that film that made Kano Australian, and the knife that Kano features as a hand to hand weapon is very similar as the one Trevor Goddard used in his performance.
The Black Dragon has apparently stolen highly advanced robotic weapon technology from the United States gorvenrment, and is developing and delivering it to an unnamed customer. Considering that almost the first thing we see is the helmet that will eventually belong to the cybernetic ninja Cyrax, there is little doubt that Kano's customer is the Lin Kuei ninja clan.
The episode follows the attempt by the Deacon City police department to apprehend Kano. Initially, their Intel seems to be coming from Sonya Blade, portrayed by Jeri Ryan. Whereas in the original game series, Blade and her group were after Kano merely because he was a lawless, mass murdering douchebag, the first film expanded their relationship as a personal vendetta by Blade for the detah of her partner at Kano's hands. In the Jeff Rovin MK novel, her partner was also her male fiancé, but in Legacy it's implied that her partner was female and just a coworker, though a close one.
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Kano manages to outsmart Blade, capturing her and leading the rest of the police led my Michael Jai White's Jax Briggs and Tahmoh Penikett's Curtis Striker into a major gun battle. Here's where the blood gets a-flowing. In addition to the regular guns and bullets that are the cops and robbers staples, the Black Dragon utilizes a timed explosive round weapon... usually by shooting a victim in the neck and then waiting for the boom.
Combatants fall left and right as Jax fights his way through the Black Dragons towards a chained Blade. Kano attempts to take care of Jax personally, and we are treated to the first actual martial arts sequence in the series.
As hand to hand fights go, it's a bit short, but coming off the heels of a major and bloody gun fight carries it through on sheer momentum.
Overall, we feel that Tancharoen is off to a good start. However, he's chosen to start with the most mundane and least fantastic parts of the Mortal Kombat mythology. How he will please fans with his portrayals of four-armed monsters and soul-sucking wizards remains to be seen. As of now, we're calling the first installment a flawless victory, and a triumph of the power the internet has to launch projects that fans are starving for.