Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge Review

Mortal Kombat Legends
Matt Donato

Reviewed by:
On April 15, 2020
Last modified:April 15, 2020


Scorpion's Revenge is a punishing deathmatch that embraces Mortal Kombat's interdimensional hellscape appeal. It's heavy on epic fatalities and even heavier on animated action exhilaration.

Moviegoers (er, Moviestayers under social distancing regulations) don’t primarily recognize Warner Brothers Animation for their cleave-and-dismember content, but after Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, that may change.

Ethan Spaulding’s reboot of Midway’s fatality-fueled video game series relishes its mature rating right out the gate. Everything is not awesome in Hanzo Hasashi’s (Patrick Seitz) world, as rival assassins ruthlessly murder everyone in the warrior’s village. Hasashi’s warpath retribution tears out spinal columns, cascades oceans of blood, and pulverizes through an array of gasp-worthy finishers that redefine hand-drawn violence. Spaulding’s introduction of Hasashi – aka Scorpion – kickstarts the film’s first few minutes with the infernally dark, combat-rich adaptation of Mortal Kombat that live-action films have yet to summon. Let them fight, indeed.

With an opening reminiscent of The Bride’s Crazy 88 massacre in Kill Bill: Volume 1, Scorpion’s Revenge is certifiably not messing around. Nor does underworld fists-and-freakshow action relent. Narrative mapping is like a crash course in Mortal Kombat lore. Shang Tsung (Artt Butler) hosts another “Mortal Kombat,” Earthrealm contestants must ensure he doesn’t win a tenth time, and Scorpion’s secret mission is to release Shinnok – but Scorpion’s Revenge continually emphasizes graphic, TV-MA injuries. Brains are exposed, muscle ligaments tear like overextended elastic, bodies are eviscerated into mush or sliced like deli meat, and that’s just the appetizer.

Animation styles remind of 90s-era X-Men cartoons and blockier anime designs, where muscular body types jaggedly exaggerate Olympian physiques. Spaulding oversees a Mortal Kombat film that favors the fantastical through countless extraterrestrial ass-kicker figures in comparison to human leads, while also ensuring Scorpion’s Revenge is hauntingly accessible for horror appreciators.

Outworld’s army of lava-blooded orcish pawns welcomes Hasashi with snarling jowls, and the apocalyptic implications if Earthrealm’s mightiest fail are held with dreadful graveness. Battlefield slayings share more (splattered) DNA with gratuitous slashers than honorable challenges of skill, but never at a detriment to square-off excitement. Scorpion’s Revenge pinpoints the intersection between fluid choreography, fierce carnal atmospheres, and hellfire damnation that we can only hope is prevalent in Simon McQuoid’s upcoming 2021 restart.

Mortal Kombat Legends

Writer Jeremy Adams valiantly treads a balance between ballbuster jokes and an array of flesh mutilation that even he, revealed in an interview, couldn’t believe squeaked past studio approval. There are times Scorpion’s Revenge minimizes plotted involvement by speeding through character “development” before another ensuing bloodbath, but who cares?

By keeping button-mash combos fresh, and death-blow cinematics a constant guessing game, we never tire of the battery of bruises earned like medals. Any repetitive, less “playful” fits of barbarism wouldn’t know such exceptions, but starting with a side-scroller arcade classic is hard enough. Kudos to the creative team for elevating what’s most important in the Mortal Kombat universe.

Enter the hopeful Earthrealm champions, legacy fighters who spit catchphrases and embark on singularly spiritual paths. Joel McHale Joel McHale’s the egotistical charm out of pretty-boy Johnny Cage, defined by his desperate yearning for margaritas and numerous flirtation attempts that end in his scrotal sac doubling as a heavy bag. Jennifer Carpenter voices Sonya Blade, always besting her male counterparts and dropping winners like “F*ck with the Blade, you’re gonna get cut,” and Jordan Rodrigues vocalizes as Liu Kang, Lord Raiden’s (Dave B. Mitchell) flame-punch protege with the strongest will imaginable.

Their triumvirate wastes little time beyond brief cutaway establishment (Blade’s military training, Kang’s kung fu training, Cage’s post-hookup alcohol swig in front of his living room Ninja Mime poster), but chemistry bonds. Especially as Cage spends an approvable amount of scenes naively thinking he’s trying out for some secret Hollywood project, much to “Lord Randy’s” amusement (Raiden).

Illustrators capitalize on permitted freedoms to experiment and color outside the lines whenever Scorpion’s Revenge hits hyperdrive in terms of beatdowns. For example, bone-crunching glimpses honor franchise mechanics where X-ray vision grants players the ability to watch ribcages shatter or femurs crack. As if viewing impalements in third-person aren’t enough, witness cold steel puncture calcium-dense skeletal pieces with brute force!

Oh, and when Hasashi snaps after Sub-Zero’s (Steve Blum) prologue attack? Shadowy nightscapes are colored an enraged red as a representation of berzerker anger. Rigid outlines wobble and contort denoting Hasashi’s nuclear frenzy.  Scorpion’s Revenge is anything but one-dimensional entertainment, as creators frequently strive to reinvent their product before your eyes.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is the Mortal Kombat treatment that faithful fanbases deserve. Cartoon or not, this movie grabs viewers by the throat and screams “GET OVER HERE” with the kind of intensity so far only available in-game. One minute you’ll squeal as if watching some mythical, maniac iteration of The Raid, the next you’re choking down laughs at the expense of Joel McCage’s “craft services” interaction with a vampire warrioress. Ethan Spaulding respects nostalgic callbacks from Cage’s nutshot signature move to Jax’s origin while redefining how studios approach the way fighting games can translate into cinematic notoriety. Your move, live-action reboot. Bar raised.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge

Scorpion's Revenge is a punishing deathmatch that embraces Mortal Kombat's interdimensional hellscape appeal. It's heavy on epic fatalities and even heavier on animated action exhilaration.