SEQUELS THAT NEVER WERE: Mortal Kombat II

Rod didn’t like how the Mortal Kombat films panned out. He wants to change that. 

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) is one of the worst sequels ever made, let alone one of the worst video game to film adaptations. Since the first was a huge success, New Line Cinema commissioned a sequel. Director Paul W.S. Anderson was offered to return but instead went with Event Horizon (1997), which was a very wise decision. In the Mortal Kombat II (1993) video game, Shang Tsung survived the previous outing. He begs Shao Kahn to spare his life, despite losing the tenth tournament to Earthrealm. Kahn accepts his request to spare Shang Tsung and, in the process, de-ages him to his youthul appearance once again. Since Shang died in the first movie, the story of a sequel couldn’t exactly follow this route. How would I have approached a follow-up, then? I would have focused on telling a story that was as good as possible, using the narrative of the second game as a guide.

Mortal Kombat II, as I would have titled the sequel as well, opens 500 years before the events of Anderson’s film. In this opening, Shang Tsung stands next to the throne of Shao Kahn, and they both watch over a fight that is about to commence between Goro and Kung Lao. During the battle, Lao almost gains the upper-hand. But, ultimately, he is defeated by Goro. Kahn yells, “Finish Him!” and Goro proceeds to rip both of Lao’s arms out of their sockets, before picking him up in the air and bringing him down onto his knee, breaking his back. As Kung Lao lays dying, Shang Tsung approaches and says, “Your soul is mine!” before proving his word. Kahn laughs and, as he does, the film jumps straight into the opening titles, accompanied by the familiar Mortal Kombat song (below).

Following the titles, there would be a recreation of the first film’s ending. Except this time, Shao Kahn would appear from an Outworld portal in his normal size, instead of the giant spectral form seen in the original. Mockingly, he congratulates Raiden on Earthrealm’s victory. Raiden would say to him with a smile, “Thank you, Emperor.” And he would also laugh his signature laugh. Kahn would tell Raiden to enjoy their victory while it lasts, and would remind him that Liu Kang may have won this tournament, but like the legendary Kung Lao before him, he cannot remain champion forever. Kahn commands Kitana to return with him to Outworld. Liu Kang protests but Kitana tells him that she must comply, and for him to prepare himself for the next tournament. Before leaving, she and Liu kiss one another. Kahn and Kitana then leave via the portal he appeared from. Johnny Cage remarks, “That was some killer costume design.” Raiden turns to the Earthrealm warriors and tells them that he must meet speak with the Elder Gods about the next tournament, and he opens a portal so they can all return home.

Raiden meets with the Elders and Shao Kahn has already arrived. Kahn asks that the next tournament take place in Outworld, as he feels the bout has taken place in Earthrealm for ten solid tournaments, and it is only fair that the next ten should take place in Outworld. The Elder Gods grant this request, and Raiden begrudgingly accepts, too. The following would then take place:

Shao Kahn informs Kitana that she will also fight in the next tournament and represent Outworld once more and, if she refuses or works against Outworld in any way, she will be killed. Mileena then appears in Kahn’s throne room, and makes some disparaging remarks towards Kitana. Kahn greets Mileena and calls her his favourite daughter. Kitana leaves in anger. Once she’s gone, Kahn tells Mileena to keep an eye on her sister to help make sure she complies to everything he has asked of her.

Liu Kang moves back to the Temple of the Order of Light and it is here that he meets Kung Lao, descendant of the Great Kung Lao that was defeated by Goro. While the events of the first film were happening, Lao was on a pilgrimage throughout the world, and didn’t want to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps. However, on his journey, he came to realise that he must join in the Earthrealm’s fight against Outworld, and it is for this reason he has returned home. In preparation for the next tournament, Liu and Lao commit to training and meditating so they are ready for the next bout. The idea is to show the bond that develops between these two men, as they are also friends in the games.

Sonya Blade attends a debriefing with her superiors about the events surrounding the death of Kano – think of it as a similar scene to one in Aliens (1986) where Ripley tells Weyland-Yutani about what she experienced in Alien (1979). They don’t believe her story about what happened. For now, she is ordered to take a leave of absence for an unspecified amount of time until they end their investigations; punishment for taking matters into her own hands in a mission to track down Kano, and for not reporting to them on the situation. Regardless, Sonya doesn’t want to stop in her commitment to make sure that Kano’s criminal organisation, Black Dragon, doesn’t rise to power once again. Sonya’s partner Jax is loyal to her, and he agrees to help her off the books.

Johnny Cage is filming a movie based on his experiences during the MK tournament, called “Mortal Kombat: The Movie.” He is actually filming the scene where he fights Goro, and it’s just like it was in the actual Mortal Kombat movie. We see him performing the moment when Cage does the splits-and-ball-punch attack on Goro (you remember that move surely).

After news of Goro’s death is received in the subterranean kingdom of Kuatan in Outworld, where the Shokan race dwell, Kintaro vows revenge against Earthrealm and to fight by Shao Kahn’s side in the next Mortal Kombat. He essentially becomes what Goro was to Shang Tsung in the first film. But in this proposed sequel, Kintaro won’t fight Johnny Cage in order to avoid a repeat of the Cage vs. Goro fight in the initial outing.

The Sub Zero that Liu Kang kills in the first was Bi-Han, and he had a younger brother named Kuai Liang, who now takes the title of Sub Zero. Liang vows to seek vengeance against Liu Kang for killing Bi-Han.

In the Netherrealm, the spirit of Scorpion is placed into another body so that he can return and continue his quest for revenge against Sub Zero, now that he’s no longer under the power of Shang Tsung.

While Jax and Sonya are running surveillance against the Black Dragon, Sonya is kidnapped by them under orders from Shao Kahn, and is taken to Outworld. Jax now believes Sonya’s story and vows to rescue her, and he follows the Black Dragon to Outworld.

There would, of course, be fights between various Earthrealm warriors against those of Outworld. Liu Kang would battle Sub Zero. During their skirmish, Kuai Liang removes his mask and reveals that he was the brother of Bi-Han and that he is here to avenge his death. For the remainder of the fight, Liu tries to persuade him that his brother was under the power of Shang Tsung, and he had to defend himself. Liu eventually defeats Sub Zero but refuses to finish him off, and this act is part of what makes Liang realise he was wrong to go after Liu. He forgives him for killing his brother, and thanks him for defeating Shang Tsung.

Kung Lao would fight Kitana. It would be a difficult one for Lao because of the fact that Kitana isn’t really on Outworld’s side, and he knows this, but he still has to fight her anyway. Ultimately, Lao wins the battle but he refuses to kill Kitana.

Due to both Liu Kang and Kung Lao’s acts of defiance by not performing finishers, Kahn secretly orders Baraka to lead an assault on the Temple of the Order of Light. This will also serve as a way to get revenge against Liu Kang for defeating Shang Tsung. Once this happens, Baraka returns and reports of the successful eradication of all who were present there.

Johnny Cage would fight Baraka and, during this, Cage would throw insults his way. Baraka would lose and Cage would perform a fatality by ripping both blades out of Baraka’s arms, and before performing a flurry of slashes on him, say something along the lines of, “He slices, he dices, call now and we’ll slash the prices!”

Raiden learns of what has happened at the Temple and informs both Liu Kang and Kung Lao. Enraged, the Shoalin monks want to leave the tournament immediately, but Raiden tells them there’s nothing they can do, and their best bet is to remain here and defeat Outworld. Otherwise, the fate that befell the Temple of the Order of Light will be the fate of the entire world.

Jax would go up against the recently-resurrected Scorpion. Before he starts the fight, Jax is pulled aside by Cage who tells him, “I’ve killed this guy before. Look out for his hand, he has some freaky shit in there,” then playfully hits him on the shoulder before going back to the crowd.

Liu Kang would fight against Kintaro. After defeating him, he must then face-off against Shao Kahn. Before Liu’s final battle commences, Kahn taunts him by saying, “You weak pathetic fool. You will never win.” Liu ignores this and gets ready to fight. It is a difficult battle. It almost seems like Liu Kang is going to lose the fight but, ultimately, he is victorious.

Mileena, in retaliation against Liu Kang killing Shao Khan, engages Kitana in a fight. But Kitana gains the upper-hand and defeats her by knocking her unconscious. This will be something that Kitana will later come to regret. But, for now, Mileena is out of action.

At the end of the movie, Jax and Johnny rescue Sonya, with Cage remarking he has déjà vu about the whole Sonya being held captive situation. Sonya and Cage kiss. Kitana and Liu Kang do the same. Sub Zero congratulates the Earth warriors for their victory. Raiden tells Sub Zero that, while his older brother did a great disservice to Earthrealm years ago, he has more than made up for it. They all leave.

After the end credits, two mysterious figures approach the dead body of Shao Kahn while Mileena remains unconscious in the background. The two are revealed to be a resurrected Shang Tsung and the sorcerer Quan Chi. They both resurrect the Emperor and tell Shao Khan that it is time to enact the plan he started over ten thousand years ago, leaving the door open for a Mortal Kombat III that would adapt the story of the third game better than Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

So, there you have it! That’s my take on a film sequel to the first Mortal Kombat movie. I have left a lot of suggestions out, but for the sake of this article, what I do have here is my preferred groundwork for something better than the piss-poor Annihilation. More time was needed to develop the screenplay for the sequel, and to hire a more capable director. The follow-up we got was atrocious, and while the first does have dated CG effects, the examples in Annihilation are much worse, among many other things in that terrible cash-in. I can only hope that, when the film series is rebooted, we get an entry as good as or better than the first film, and that any sequels don’t follow the trajectory we all witnessed.

Rod Petrie

Gamer since 1988 at the age of five. First system was the Nintendo Entertainment System. Favourite retro systems - NES, SNES, N64, MegaDrive, PS1, and PS2.

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