Mortal Kombat 11

How Mortal Kombat: Annihilation captured the series’ embarrassing early years

“Destroy All Expectations!”

Originally published April 8, 2019 at

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If Mortal Kombat was a faithful film adaptation that was accurate to the games without overdoing it, its 1997 sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is full-on fan service.

It’s horrible.

Even as someone who’s only familiar with the series through the reboot entries and dumb jokes made about the old ones, Annihilation is relentless in pulling whatever it can from the games themselves. It’s a cynical 90-minute commercial built for younger fans and whoever else didn’t know any better, “dazzling” these tragic youths with all the low-effort cosplay they could afford.

If you watched the movie either in 1997 or more recently – for whatever reason – hoping to see Shao Kahn, Motaro, Sheeva, Cyrax, Nightwolf on the big screen, you won’t be disappointed: Annihilation meets those expectations… and absolutely nothing else.


Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation starts right as the first movie ends, as Liu Kang, Kitana, Sonya, Johnny Cage and Raiden (the latter three having been recast, just to add to the greatness) arrive at Liu Kang’s temple. Suddenly, Shao Kahn arrives! Ninjas cartwheel into frame! Shao Kahn kills Johnny Cage! The heroes escape! From there, the remaining good guys walk around a number of sets looking for help, or strength, or something. Meanwhile, Shao Kahn desperately tries to impress his Dad Shinnok.

It doesn’t even have the luxury of the original movie’s tournament setup; it simply continues like the next episode in a television show by adding a mostly-unseen apocalypse and some new ninja colours to the mix. Eventually it ends and the credits start rolling.

At least there’s more fighting this time – and Christ do I wish this was a good thing.

Every fight in Annihilation plays out the exact same way. They’re slow, poorly shot and poorly edited scenes with Power Rangers-esque choreography, and they just never stop. One ends and another starts up right away. You’re bored by the third and it’s only been ten minutes. The reaction shot gets a lot of love in Annihilation, too, because nothing’s more exciting than cutting to a dead-faced spectator, offering nothing but a dim stare.

Much like swallowing a handful of horse tranquilizers, Annihilation isn’t nearly as fun as it should be. It’s just a deluge of mind-numbing motion and vague mental anguish.

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