This year's Mortal Kombat (MK) game was a much needed boost to a legendary series that had gone somewhat stale. Thanks to a passionate MK fan and film director, Kevin Tancharoen, the live action cinema side of the franchise was also rebooted. MK: Legacy is Tancharoen's reboot, or interpretation, of the MK universe, and it's a pretty darn interesting one.
As most of you know, MK: Legacy is available free to view (legitimately) via Youtube. This Blu-ray release may be viewed as unnecessary or as some kind of a cash-in, but it's more than that. The Blu-ray release contains all nine episodes, several compelling extra features, and a little peace of mind knowing that you may be contributing to an eventual full fledged movie based on Legacy. Given the quality of Legacy's direction and overall execution, that would surely be a film to interest a whole lot of MK fans, myself included.
So, each episode of MK: Legacy is just a short origin tale of several of the main characters in the MK universe, with three origin stories taking up two episodes each. The first two episodes are about Sonya, Jax, and Kano. Starring Jeri Ryan as Sonya, Michael Jai White as Jax, and Darren Shahlavi as Kano, these first two episodes get Legacy off to a great start. We witness Sonya finally locating Kano who is in the midst of some nefarious business. Rather than waiting for backup, she decides to try to take him on, and gets herself captured. Jax decides to lead up a team of agents to get after here, resulting in an exciting firefight between his crew and the mercs under Kano's control.
Episode three introduces Johnny Cage, and mixes his annoying ego with drama when film execs tell him he's no good and their no longer interested in his work. Episodes four and five feature Kitana and Mileena, while episode six is about Raiden, a fallen god who gets detained to a shady mental hospital (definitely a different take on the character than original MK lore). Scorpion and Sub-Zero (although primarily Scorpion) are the subjects of episodes seven and eight, with an appearance by Quan Chi. Finally, episode nine features Cyrax and Sektor.
Despite vastly different stories, these episodes all share two important traits: they are all between six and nine minutes long, and all are nicely directed and produced. Special effects are used sparingly, and when they are used, they aren't overdone or bad looking, which is far more than you can say for something like MK: Annihilation. During the Mileena/Katana story, some animation is used, but it's high quality and done in the best interest of the episode (i.e., to swath over childhood years of the duo quickly). Frankly, just about everything that Tancharoen did was agreeable, although I thought his Shao Kahn interpretation was too boring and not intimidating enough. I also had my doubts about his Raiden story, but it ended up working out well. All told, expect solid acting, good, fast paced scripts, and appropriate cliffhangers.
In terms of presentation, MK: Legacy looks outstanding, from both a technical perspective and in the art direction. A hyper crisp and clean 1080p image drew me in right away, and the variety of environments used between the episodes gave Tancharoen plenty of creative leverage. The end result is a visually striking product, with high quality audio to boot. Other than Shao Kahn being a little boring and Baraka looking quite a bit different than I would have envisioned, it's hard to fault Legacy for much in the visual department. And while I may not have liked all of the voices, they do a good job and ultimately do no harm to the product.
Perhaps the biggest reason to consider purchasing this Blu-ray is the extra features, including a couple never before seen:
-MKL: Expanding the Netherrealm (HD, 10m) - A worthwhile, although short, making of feature with cast and crew and lots of production footage.
-MKL: Fight (HD, 15m33s) - An interesting look at the fight choreography and role of violence in the franchise.
-MKL: Fan Made (HD, 5m9s) - Tancharoen talks about his passion for Mortal Kombat. Lots of production and behind the scenes footage is shown.
-MKL: Gear (HD, 4m12) - Ed Boon, one of the original creators of Mortal Kombat, talks about the importance of weapons in the franchise.
-MK: Mysticism (HD, 5m17s) - An examination of some of the special moves found in the game and movie. Footage from Mortal Kombat (9) is shown.
With that, let's get to the summary...