Film: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

"DESTROY ALL EXPECTATIONS."

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the second film based on the Mortal Kombat videogame franchise, incorporates characters and plot details from the series' first three games with a heavy emphasis on Mortal Kombat 3.

After the events of the first film, Liu Kang (Robin Shou) won Mortal Kombat for Earthrealm and broke Outworld's streak of consecutive tournament victories...and yet, Shao Kahn (Brian Thompson) — the Emperor of Outworld — has somehow managed to begin Outworld's invasion anyway. While Raiden (James Remar) confronts the Elder Gods over Kahn's invasion, Liu Kang undergoes specialized training in order to face Shao Kahn (who has far more power than Shang Tsung ever did), and Sonya Blade (Sandra Hess) reunites with her partner Jackson "Jax" Briggs (Lynn Williams) to help him fight various Outworld warriors as they arrive on Earth. Kahn's Outworld forces outnumber and overpower Earthrealm's, however, and it will take every ounce of skill and power Earth's heroes have to drive back the invasion and defeat Shao Kahn once and for all.

Film critics and Mortal Kombat fans alike near-universally despise this film. Aside from Liu Kang and Kitana, every other character who appeared in the prior film had a new actor in the role, and Johnny Cage died in the first few minutes as a display of Shao Kahn's strength. Annihilation tries to toss in as many characters from the first three games as possible, and though the film has decent costuming and creature design, few of these characters receive names during the film — and even fewer have a decent moment or fight scene to indicate a personality (or a reason why viewers should consider them important). The plot also lacks an official Mortal Kombat tournament to justify the frequent action scenes, which makes for a disjointed storyline. Annihilation's toned-down violence (compared to the original film) and subpar visual effects round out the list of reasons why this film became a Franchise Killer.


Mortal Kombat: Annihilation kontains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Sindel, just like in the game.
  • Action Girl: Sonya manages to be this in this movie, though Kitana picks up her discarded incompetence.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Jade. In the games, she is Kitana's best bud and genuinely always serve her best interest. (Incidentally, Jade did act as a servant of Shao Kahn in the games temporarily as well, but only because Jade, first and foremost, served Kitana, who had yet to know the truth about herself and Kahnnote ) Here, she more or less acts like Tanya: complete traitor and psychopath.
    • Cyrax is a sort of retroactive case. Here, he's a minion of evil (serving under Shao Kahn rather than the Lin Kuei), while the games wouldn't establish him as one of the good guys until Mortal Kombat Gold.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Stryker was one of the most powerful combatants in the games, but is almost Adapted Out of the movie, only briefly being mentioned by Rain, along with a comment about how easy he was to kill. Kabal is also casually killed off-screen alongside him. However in the games Kabal was attacked and left for dead by Kahn's assassination squads, so his character could have easily returned in the non-existent sequel.
  • An Ice Person: Sub-Zero.
  • Animorphism: Liu Kang meets Nightwolf while the latter is in his wolf form. He teaches Liu to change into a dragon to gain an edge over Shao Kahn, who it turns out can transform into an even larger hydra.
  • Bad Boss: Shao Kahn, in spades. See You Have Failed Me below.
  • Big Bad: Shao Kahn.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • Raiden.
    • Jax's cybernetics were damaged in his fight at the end. In all reality, they never seemed to give him that big of an advantage in the first place. Still he manages to hand Motaro's ass to him with his normal arms.
  • Composite Character: This movie's version of Smoke has Smoke's grey paint job and ability to turn to smoke, but everything else about him comes from Sektor, the only one of the three cyber ninjas not to appear in the movie.
  • Conspicuous CGI: Most of the CGI in the film but especially the final Shapeshifter Showdown.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Sonya versus Mileena, which plays out just like a Cat Fight. Rolling in the mud and everything.
    • Also, Kitana versus Sindel during the final battle.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Sheeva gets a cage gets dropped on her. The filmmakers seem to really hate the Shokan. There were plans to have a fight scene between her and Raiden which never panned out.
    • Marjean Holden herself lamented that they gave her character such an inglorious send-off.
    • Johnny Cage is killed off as soon as possible into the film to show how powerful Shao Khan is.
  • Enemy Mine: Sub Zero II doesn't like Liu Kang for killing his older brother, but he's willing to help him protect Kitana for the greater good.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: You can tell which role Jade is playing at any given moment just by looking at her do: while she's pretending to be with the good guys, she has a fringe and a ponytail. When she's playing evil (not just after she reveals her allegiance to Shao Kahn, but also when she fights Liu Kang for the first time), she has her hair completely combed backwards and tied in a bun.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Flat Character: Plenty. The first movie wasn't exactly high on character development, but this movie had Smoke (showed up with no introduction and lost his fight), Ermac (stood around and did nothing until the end, then lost his fight), Mileena (showed up out of nowhere, lost her fight), Rain (killed off so quickly his appearance was more of a cameo)... this movie had a problem with forcing characters in for no real reason other than to have them.
  • Flexible Tourney Rules: The tourney rules are well and truly screwed and Shao Kahn invades directly without so much as setting up a tournament at all. As Nightwolf says to Liu, "The Tournament had rules. This time, anything goes." The Elder Gods spring a trap by calling a tourney and removing Kahn's immortality when he least expects it, allowing Liu to destroy him for good.
    • Further elaboration: Shinnok is an Elder God (in the games, he'd fallen from grace long ago, but that's another story), and as such he's not supposed to directly interfere with the running of the Mortal Kombat tournament—but he's violated that rule by giving Shao Kahn the power to invade Earth despite Outworld having lost the tournament. He manages to keep that info secret from the other Elder Gods, but it's when he directly tries to kill Liu Kang that the Elder Gods finally see fit to intervene (when earlier they didn't care despite Raiden's protests).
  • Happy Ending Override: The first film with ended with our heroes winning Mortal Kombat and defeating Shang Tsung, greeting the arriving Shao Kahn with a cocky, "Who cares? We're gonna kick your ass!" attitude and Ass Kicking Pose. Here, Kahn's arrival is treated as a major deal, all the heroes are scared, Raiden starts losing his powers, and Johnny Cage is killed off in the first three minutes.
  • Immediate Sequel: Picks up right after the first movie left off.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Scorpion to Liu Kang and Sub Zero after he catches Kitana.
    Scorpion: SUCKERS!!!!
  • Kudzu Plot: The film goes so far into the politics of the Elder Gods and Outworld that there is no way the uninitiated can understand it. Hell, so little of it comes from the games even the initiated can't understand it. And the story basically takes a backseat to the protagonists finding the rest of the cast.
  • Large Ham: Raiden and Shao Kahn.
  • Left Stuck After Attack: Jax ripping his roboticized arm out of a wall just in time to deflect an evil robot's acid attack.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Nearly every character from the first three games appear. A few, such as Mileena and Cyrax, end up nameless.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Poor Jax has this 3 times. The first and major is that he had no idea of Sonya's adventures in Outworld and Mortal Kombat. The second, was that the repercussions of said tournament resulted Shao Khan sending his squads to exterminate potential threats including him. And the Third, was that he didn't know about Johnny Cage or his death. The latter of which sparked some jealousy.
    Jax: Who the hell is Johnny!?
  • The Mole: Jade.
  • Mud Wrestling: The Cat Fight between Mileena and Sonya.
  • Murderous Thighs: Sonya uses Murderous Ankles on Ermac.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Nightwolf isn't inflicted with lycanthropy, he's just a Voluntary Shapeshifter with only one form.
  • Playing Gertrude: Musetta Vander, who plays Sindel, is only four years older than Talisa Soto, who plays her daughter Kitana. Probably justified given Edenians' ridiculously long lifespan as established in the games, though.
  • Race Lift: In the games, Jade varies from being Ambiguously Brown to having more African features. In the film, she's played by Irina Pantaeva, a Buryat model.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Raiden and Shao Kahn are brothers, and Shinnok is their father.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: Liu and Kahn at the end, though each only uses one form.
  • Smug Snake: Shao Kahn.
  • Spinning out of Here: Queen Sindel literally dances in a circle, Wonder Woman-style, to teleport.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Johnny Cage, which probably happened because of his death in the third game, from which the movie takes most of its story.
  • Take Me Instead: Raiden offers himself up as Kahn's prisoner in exchange for Johnny Cage. Kahn, for some reason, accepts, then immediately declines anyway and kills Johnny.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sonya Blade. In the first movie, she beat up some mooks, got smacked around by Kano after he was told to go easy on her, eventually managing to get her legs around his neck, and then was dragged off by Shang Tsung to give the guys someone to rescue. In this movie, she kills Cyrax, Mileena, Ermac, and a whole bunch of mooks. A definite improvement.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nightwolf's "test" involves three stages. We never see the third nor given an explanation of what it is.
    • One of the major criticisms of the movie involved characters simply disappearing after their allotted scenes. Sub-Zero disappears after his fight with Scorpion, who disappears after capturing Kitana. Nightwolf doesn't show up again either despite the story seeming to position him as a major character.
  • World of Ham
  • You Have Failed Me / Disproportionate Retribution: Rain tells Shao Kahn that Outworld's forces captured two fighters (Kabal and Kurtis Stryker) without making them beg for their lives before killing them. Kahn shows his displeasure by hitting Rain with a giant hammer and knocking him into some sort of Hell Well. Jade, Kahn's mole in the ranks of the heroes, gets it even worse when she fails at her job — Kahn feeds her to a monster carving in the wall, which gives out a great big burp when it's done with her.
    • Making Stryker and Kabal beg before death was not part of Rain's orders, but Kahn killed Rain anyway so he could vent his daddy issues on someone. Jade and Sindel made a tactically correct move by retreating from a force they could not have defeated on their own. So Kahn basically killed Jade and Rain for not failing.