I remember being somewhat intrigued by this idea when it was announced. At this point in time, Mortal Kombat had become somewhat stagnant. The game series had become convoluted and uninspired. There hadn’t been a film or TV project since Mortal Kombat Conquest, so sure I wanted some live-action combat. Wannabe director Kevin Tancharoen (tankaron??) decided to make his own project with a little bit of money and some friends and Mortal Kombat Rebirth became an internet sensation. Wish it was that easy for the rest of us.
Looking back on it now and reflecting on the time it was released, I think the project was what I thought I wanted then but not what I want now. In a time that superhero films can portray our favorite characters without compromise, why would I want any other version but the truest one? There was this idea way back when that some things just couldn’t translate to screen properly, so we had to find a way to ground them or make them more realistic. Clearly, in this day and age, that’s not the case.
There are some interesting ideas here. Making Sonya and Jax detectives works more in-line with the concept. Baraka and Reptile having drastic changes in their backstory but finding ways to make a “realistic” version was cool. Raiden being locked away in a mental asylum was very intriguing, playing on the idea of whether or not he was who he said he was. An idea I would bet was lifted from Thor, since they released around the same time. But I could be wrong.
The show had decent enough talent. Michael Jai White as Jax is damn near perfect casting. Casper Van Dien was an inspired choice (if not unironic) for Johnny Cage. Mark Dacascos was great for Kung Lao. And the fact they got Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa to portray Shang Tsung shows how much he loved playing this character. If you think about it, he’s played three different versions of the same character. What other actor has done that?
The effects were great for a web series and the fight scenes were equally impressive. But it was a web series and I’m not all for watching a series like this in tidbits. I would have loved a legit series of this to allow characters and story arcs to be fleshed out more beyond seven minute vignettes. It’s a concept that could have worked wonders today seeing how everything is being transformed into bite-sized versions of itself. I never thought Tik Tok would survive but damn if the world didn’t prove me wrong. It’s gonna happen one day… you’ll see. Tik Tok original series.
Another thing the series had going against it was being on Machinima, which was a garbage-ass, click-bait YouTube channel that would post videos titles like “A third Mortal Kombat film in the works” question mark. Then you click on the video to get the scoop and they spend five minutes saying that there are rumors floating around that a film is happening but nothing confirmed. So essentially everything I just read in the video title. Assholes. So amazing how many other shows they had on their channel. Anyone remember that Terminator one? No? Neither do I.
This was a fun idea and I’m glad someone was able to get a career by remaking someone else’s work instead of making something original. That’s Hollywood in a nutshell. And yes I’m a little bitter.