Mortal Kombat: Legacy II Is Fun If You’re Just in It for the Fight Sequences

Turn the sound off when people are talking, though

TV execs should take note of how well Mortal Kombat: Legacy II showrunner/director Kevin Tancharoen can do what they're paying millions of dollars for, using in this case what looks like six bucks and a couple of colored filters. The script here is not great ("If you only knew how fucked-up it's been!" Yeah, that sounds intense, bro) but the budget fight choreography is surprisingly good and more or less everything in the first episode of Machimima's Mortal Kombat sequel is a trick shot or a really smart practical effect.

Things take a turn for the more expensive once the supernatural characters get deeply involved in episode 2—Kung Lao, Raiden and pals appear and disappear in neat-looking flashes of black smoke, and there's some good makeup and monster effects—and as a small-scale version of some of the sillier action movies (say the Underworld franchise, for example), it's fine.

It ain't great, though. The acting in the Machinima series is frequently wretched and the emotional depth is on a par with lesser Garfield comics. The guy who chews the scenery as Kenshi is probably the best thing going—his fairy tale-ish origin story in feudal Japan is a lot of fun, and he manages to suggest that he's in on the joke. Also that there IS a joke, which is important. Your guess is as good as mine on the subject of whether any of the women are talented actors; none of them have anything at all to work with except very brief costumes.

One thing Web content has demonstrated incontrovertibly is that you can reach your demographic pretty dramatically if you spend your money in the right place: I'm not here to tell you that Mortal Kombat: Legacy II is my cup of tea, but it's clearly somebody's—every one of these episodes has at least 700,000 views and plenty of them have more than 1 million. It's always hard to tell how much reach you're getting on digital, but you've definitely got frequency out the yinyang (you should pardon the expression) with this extremely serious Hong Kong action flick homage.

Some of the stuff here is really, really derivative—there's an astoundingly blatant ripoff of the Luke-reaches-for-his-lightsaber moment from the opening sequence of The Empire Strikes Back—but it's never not fun and filmmaker X at least picks some interesting homages. (Kitana's story, for example, is told partly in animated form a la Kill Bill.) At some point the writing/directing team should sit down and watch a bunch of Scorsese or Coppola flicks (or, god forbid, anything directed or written by a woman) and broaden their palates a little, or at least stop writing characters who swear like fourteen-year-olds.