It would be nice to report that there were a few exciting fight scenes within the abysmal, incoherent Mortal Kombat Annihilation (New Line). Alas, the hopped-up ninja battles are incoherent too. Shot according to the whiplash school of hyperactive mayhem — a kick here, a punch there, a flying body everywhere — the combat scenes are editing-table follies that piece together the various stunts with such gravity-defying illogic that they never begin to seduce us into believing that the performers are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. In Mortal Kombat Annihilation, about the only thing that keeps your eyelids open is the relentless techno soundtrack. With its nervously propulsive, life-is-a-subway-train-to-hell rhythms, techno, the music of fashion-victim doom, is the perfect accompaniment to a blood-lust action fantasy spun off from a nihilistic videogame.
If the music screams robo-future demonism, the performers are as gee-whiz bland as adult Power Rangers. Robin Shou, who resembles a sleeker version of the young Harvey Keitel, is Liu Kang, the indomitable warrior who has six days to save Earth by leading a sexually and racially integrated crew of superheroes against a villain whose single most distinctive feature is that he wears a mask that looks like a skull. There are lots of special effects — in fact, there are way too many of them. The clawed monsters, liquid fireballs, and gelatinous purploid skies ooze by in a visually synthetic sludge.
Fragmented and monotonous, without a semblance of the gymnastic cleverness that at least made the first Mortal Kombat film into watchable trash, Mortal Kombat Annihilation is as debased as movies come. Yet as much as this joyless cartoon belongs on the bottom shelf of video stores, it’s worth noting that the same was true over a decade ago of schlocky amazon-revenge fantasies like Sorceress, which ultimately gave rise to Xena: Warrior Princess. Look for the cult-hit TV series Liu Kang: Kombat Prince sometime around 2007. D-