Tooncrap #4 - Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins

Choose Your Density!
New Line Cinema: 1995

Written by: Raymond Gallant

In the mid 90's nothing touched Mortal Kombat. The fighting game franchise as beloved by gamers for its violence as it was hated by parental groups for its gore. But in the end, Mortal Kombat is a classic franchise. And there were so many great things to come out of it, like the brilliant sequel, Mortal Kombat II, as well as the cheesy as all hell live action movie. I've always had a soft spot for this movie. Sure it has it's corny moments, and lacks the gore and fatalities that made this franchise a strong cash cow, but it at least held true to the characters, something another movie about a popular fighting game failed to do around that same time.

"Of Course!"
Oh, everybody's used that joke already, I may as well join the happy crowd.

So, while the MK movie was a decent flick, the Direct-to-video semi-prequel known as Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins, is on the other end of the spectrum. As in the spectrum of total turdtastic terribleness. It's an atrocious throw together of 2D, CGI, and Motion Capture. But it's main selling point was a special code for Mortal Kombat 3 that could be seen at the end of the video. Remember when almost every WWF VHS did the same? Gave you supposed "insider tips" at the end of the video, only to find out that they really aren't all that helpful? Oh well, at least the VHS tape had some good matches...

Oh right, this was "New Generation" WWF. 1995 New Generation WWF at that. Sorry, my mistake.

So we have our Hook (it's Mortal Kombat, and it has a special trick), Our line (The Journey Begins), now let's run through the stinker. Let's review this thing.

The movie does start off on a more positive note. The much beloved techno theme of Mortal Kombat plays as the credits roll. Too bad that only last roughly 10 seconds at best. Then we get shots of a dragon's shadow flying through the sky, mixed in with CGI shots of fighters battling one another. We also get our narrative, telling us the reasons for the tournament, and that it is held on an island that borders between Earth Realm, and Outworld. Outworld has won the last 9 tournaments, and it is imperative that they do not win the 10th. We cut to the Dragon logo that spins around for 15 seconds before we get the title of the movie.

We cut to a ship That the 3 chosen warriors are on.

Liu Kang

Sonya Blade

and Johnny Cage as the Beaver.

The three Introduce themselves to each other as Cage vomits due to being sick of the bad animation. Okay, he's just sea sick, but really, what bird brain thought this would look nice? The 2D characters don't blend well at all with the CGI background. hell, sometimes they even get this blurriness over them. and their movements feel almost as jerky as an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon, only without the charm.

As the boat reaches a stormy, foggy, area, Sonya tries to enter the ship to use the radio, only to be stopped by Sub Zero (voiced by Jim Cummings), and learning first hand why his name isn't just a silly pun.

"Dat is a cool name though. A cool name for a man with a heart of Cold!!"
Oh, who asked you Mr. Freeze?

The door of the ship opens, and out comes Shang Tsung (also voiced by Jim Cummings), who informs Sonya that while she thinks she's here to track down a dangerous criminal, she's really on the boat as a member of the mortal kombat tournament, and then for no real reason whips up a mini tornado that sends Kang and Cage spinning in the air.

Right round.
Like a record, baby.

Tsung leaves them, telling Sonya that no radio will be able to work where they're going. as the trio talk, Tsung sends Sub Zero and Scorpion to attack them. If the chosen trio were to perish before the tournament, then Outworld would win by default. Sub zero freezes the floor of the ship, causing Johnny to slip and..

AAAAAHHH!!! Too damn' close!

Cage slips and crashes into some crates. Sub Zero attacks the trio by doing pretty much what I do when I play Mortal Kombat. Spam the freeze move. Liu even pulls a matrix (Though since Matrix came out about 4 years later did they pull an MK?) by slo-mo dodging a freeze ball. Sonya Slo-Mo dropkicks Sub Zero, before doing this for some reason.

Okay, enough with the creepy close ups please.

The two beat down on Sub Zero, until Scorpion makes the scene. In the middle of the slo-mo fighting moves, the trio of heroes use their classic moves like Kang's bicycle kick, and Sonya's head scissors, which sends Sub crashing through the ship's deck. Scorpion uses his harpoon move (although he wraps it around her instead of stabbing her), yells the legendary "GET OVER HERE!" and slowly drags Sonya, when a bolt of lightning breaks the rope, sending Scorpion falling into the hole with Sub Zero. It's Raiden, the god of thunder (And rock and roll?). Cage makes a smart ass remark, and Raiden responds by...

Doing this. And I love him for it. If there's anything I'm glad to take away from this damn thing, it at least gave us Cage and the electro dance.

Raiden shouts at Shang Tsung for attacking our heroes. as Tsung and his cronies leave, we get some more back story to the Mortal Kombat tournament. which leads us to some more sub par CGI. I know this is post ReBoot, yet Pre Toy Story, but it still looks rather bad. We see a younger Tsung engaging in what appears to be a dance off with someone else. maybe it's supposed to be martial art techniques, but damn if it doesn't look like the hottest dance craze, the Wax on, Wax off. Macarena + Miyagi = Money. So Shang and the other guy known as the Temple Master fight it off in a rather dull battle of punches and kicks, until Shang Tsung eventually wins, and ...

Steal his colors... I mean soul.

Raiden then informs them that if the 10th tournament is lost, the gates of Outworld will open, and Earth Realm is pretty much screwed.

The next day, the heroes finally make it to Total Drama.. I mean Shang Tsung's island, where they see many other overly generic challengers

Like Baraka. and everyone's favorite kombatant, Guy with glasses and baseball hat.

Tsung welcomes the Kombatants to the island, as his 4 armed pal Goro is seen in the shadows. After the warm welcome, Johnny begins to run his egotastic mouth. Sub Zero, and Scorpion walk by, and as our heroes watch them, Raiden shows up, and begins with Sub Zero and Scorpion's back story, and how Sub was a member of the Lin-Q.

The Lin-Q? I'm pretty sure it's the Lin Kuei. as in pronounced "quei".

As everyone leans oddly, we cut to another CGI fight from the past between Sub Zero and Scorpion. they fight for a bit until Sub eventually hits Scorpion with a freeze ball. With his enemy frozen, Sub then smashes him to pieces in one of his classic fatalities. At least I think he did, we never see it because they cut away....


So since Scorpion couldn't enter the "Victory hall of the dead", he pretty much is still wandering the earth until he eventually kills Sub Zero. After that Raiden talks more about Shang Tsung's past. Good lord, I know this is The Journey Begins, but do we really need this much back story filler? So they keep talking until they see Goro, the four armed bodyguard of Shang Tsung, and leader of the Nomads, AKA, what Baraka is. So with more back story we learn that Tsung had actually lost to Kung Lao, Liu's ancestor. After his loss, he met Goro. and of course, we get Goro's back story, and another CG Fight. this time with Goro's Brother over some jeweled egg that was to be a tribute to their father. After taking perhaps the worst F5 in history, Goro almost falls off a cliff, but his brother saves him and the egg. Goro then turns heel, takes the egg, and lets his brother plummet to his death. Goro then becomes the successor to the throne.

So Shang Tsung aligns with Goro, and since this alliance the Outworld has managed to win 9 Mortal Kombat competitions in a row. And his first victory came by beating the ever loving hell out of Kung Lao, and eventually crushing his head.

So they talk some more about the tournament, and Goro sends the nomad after them. Raiden, being the ancient pussy that he is, abandons them, as after over 15 minutes of back story, and slow CGI fighting, we finally get some "action".

See this gif right here? This is essentially the majority of the fighting. The same stock clips used over, and over, and over, AND OVER. Very rarely will a new piece of animation show up. But for the most part it's just That same shot of Sonya, that same shot of Johnny Cage walking backwards for ALMOST FIVE MINUTES!

Even Raiden is sick of this, as he finally steps in and calls out Shang Tsung. as the Nomads and even Sub Zero advance on them we get a CGI montage of all the fights from earlier, and it just ends. Not without saying to prepare ourselves for the movie. Since I don't recall any of this crap happening in the actual movie, I say this was very poor preparation. We get some lame bios of the characters, and the credits roll. as symbols flash by. Guess what? Those symbols are the special code.

Okay, we got a Question mark, a Goro, a Goro, #11, a Goro, and a Goro. Wait a second, there's no #11 in the code list in MK3! It must be something else. So, after all of that, what does this code supposedly do?

Unlimited running.


New Line Home Video Wins

So that's Mortal Kombat: The Journey begins. lame animation, lame CGI, and to be honest, just plain boring. I understand this is a prequel of what's to come, but did this really need to be padded with that much back story and exposition? It's Mortal Kombat. No one really ever cared about the whole back story between Outworld and Earth Realm. All they wanted to do was use Scorpion and burn their opponents.

And of course, the icing on the cake, a useless code. So, if you actually bought this stupid tape expecting some amazing code to help you best your foes on Mortal Kombat III, you got royally gypped. I know this was still the early days before Gamefaqs could just give you all the codes, but still, to buy a tape and get a code that isn't even labeled correctly for an unlimited run ability that isn't even all that special is just plain stupid. Just like this video. The journey for Mortal Kombat may have begun, but it sure didn't take long to sail into the murky waters of Tooncrap.