Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Web Series Review: "Mortal Kombat: Legacy" Episode 2

Captain Jackson "Jax" Briggs’s (Michael Jai White) attempt to rescue Sonia Blade (Jeri Ryan) has left Kano’s (Darren Shahlavi) shipping operation in shambles. As Jax and Kano come to in the aftermath of an explosion that interrupted their fight, Sonia Blade makes her escape.  Jax and Kano get their bearings together and continue their scuffle in brutal fashion. Enraged by Kano’s refusal to divulge Sonya’s whereabouts, Jax maims Kano.  As Jax flees yet another grenade primed to explode, he sees Sonia in the distance and attempts to shield her from the blast.

Unlike last week’s episode, this one begins in the midst of the action.  There is no ballistic lead in aside from Sonya’s escape from captivity, and the centerpiece is the conclusion of the fight between Jax and Kano.  The finishing move is eye-poppingly brutal (pun very much intended).  The gore quotient has been upped considerably, which is very much in keeping with the spirit of the series.  Aside from the aforementioned maiming, there are some graphic shots of damaged tissue being excised and discarded during a surgical procedure.  From a story and plot standpoint, major revelations don’t come to the very end.
On a visceral level I liked this episode a bit more than the first.  After a brief recap of events, it gets right down to business.  The fight choreography has a brawler/bruiser aspect to it.  There are lots of haymakers and wide swings, and the counter moves incorporate holds and throws.  The fight quickly moves to ground level and grappling moves.  Michael Jai White is amazingly fast and lithe for his size, but I think the basic moves and straight ahead style suit his bulky frame.

Critical reaction to this series has seemed rather harsh.  Aside from some obvious elements of the first episode (the dialogue in the first half, cop movie clichés) I don’t see much to complain about thus far.  It delivers competent action and the length of the episodes are just short enough so that the perceived flaws do not have a detrimental effect.  Stories in video games are meant to facilitate game play.  They don’t exist as an end to themselves, but to support an interactive experience.  As a preliminary to the massive tournament that is sure to take place at the end of this series (or in a the inevitable reboot of the film franchise) Mortal Kombat: Legacy does its job.    

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