Starring Mark Dacascos, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Michelle Lee, Eric Jacobus, Casper Van Dien, Ian Anthony Dale, David Lee McInnis, Samantha Jo, Dan Southworth, Eric Steinburg, Brian Tee
Fight Choreography by Larnell Stovall
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen
Kevin Tancharoen took the internet by storm several years ago when he made a low budget short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth and starred Michael Jai White, Matt Mullins, and Lateef Crowder that rebooted the Mortal Kombat series into a much darker, more violent property than the feature films ever were. The short film was a success, finally displaying a good martial arts fight scene and still retaining what made Mortal Kombat great. The powers that be at the WB were impressed, and rightly so. They gave Tancharoen the funds and resources to make a Mortal Kombat webseries. Bringing back Michael Jai White and Matt Mullins, along with Jeri Ryan and Darren Shalavi as Kano, matched together with the fight choreography of Larnell Stovall, and they had an online hit. The Mortal Kombat universe was successfully rebooted for a new generation.
So now we have Season 2. How did it fare this time around?
The answer is…not nearly as good.
The series starts with the first appearance in the series of Liu Kang (Tee), the hero of the last tournament, now a violent drifter after the death of his fiancee at the hands of a group of thugs. His brother Kung Lao (Dacascos) comes to tell him that he will fight in the tournament, but Liu Kang, his soul darkened by revenge, wants nothing to do with the tournament or his brother. Meanwhile, Princess Kitana (Jo) is coming to terms with the revelations she discovered from last season about her true heritage, while Sub-Zero tries to reason with Skorpion about the attack on his family from last season. All of this at the backdrop of the tournament itself….
So, let’s first get to the things I didn’t like. The stories overall were ok, but not nearly as good as last season, especially since Michael Jai White, Jeri Ryan, or Darren Shahlavi and their characters are absent, as we get an entire new group whose stories I could care less about, especially that of Kenshi. The story of how he got his sword is weak, and I could’ve done without knowing anything about him. Casper Van Dien doesn’t bring much of anything to the role that Matt Mullins couldn’t have done, and his fight scenes were unconvincing, unlike with Matt, who is a real martial artist. The Mileena/Kitana storyline didn’t follow through from last season with any real weight. The biggest disappointment I had with in regards to the Sub-Zero/Skorpion storyline, arguably the best of season 1, and it is here that I send a criticism straight to Kevin Tancharoen for not standing on the table and keeping their story in Japanese with English subtitles (maybe he did try to argue for it), which completely took me out of the scenes in Japan. I would ask anyone to watch the Season 1 Episodes and Season 2 and tell me a large piece of authenticity wasn’t lost. Tack onto that how their story ends this season, and it was infuriating, especially if you’re a Sub-Zero fan.
Now for what I liked. Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as Shang Tsung. CHT is always great, and even more so here, once again playing the badass of the MK universe, and his line readings are as awesome as ever. Mark Dacascos was also cool as Kung Lao, even if he didn’t get much to do in this season. I liked the Liu Kang story more than I thought I would, and it was a refreshing new take on the hero of earth realm. I won’t ruin the surprise the final episode has in story for Liu Kang fans, but it will make Season 3 really interesting. Also, and this goes into the like and dislike category, Eric Jacobus as Stryker. I thought he did a great acting job, much better than many of the other stars, and his fight with Liu Kang was short, but very good. What I didn’t like was that he didn’t get an episode establishing his character, unlike virtually everyone else. Hopefully next season will fix this (and they keep Eric in the part, and not try to replace him like they did with Mullins. You listening, Warner Brothers?)
The fight scenes were pretty good, the best being Kenshi versus Ermac and Kitana versus Mileena. Everyone did a fantastic job here. I was a bit disappointed in the Skorpion/Sub Zero fight. I can’t put my finger on it, but it wasn’t as good to be as the Season 1 meeting between the two ( I realize Sub-Zero was Quan Chi in season 1, but still…)
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6
It was hard to care with so many cast members from Season 1 gone, and the Skorpion/Sub-Zero story was disappointing. I think there are some good seeds planted for Season 3, but it’ll require better storytelling that what’s on hand here. The fights kept this score from being lower.