Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Web Series Review: Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Ep. 5 - Kitana & Mileena (Part 2)

Kitana (Samantha Tjhia) and Mileena (Jolene Tran) have become formidable fighters after years of training.  The two then go about vanquishing the remainder of Shao Khan’s (Aleks Paunovic) enemies.  This includes imposters of the deposed King Jerrod, who has been living in self-imposed exile since Edenia was conquered.  While on their latest mission, Kitana discovers a secret that has been kept from her since she was a baby.  As she ponders the implications of what she has learned, Shao Khan prepares to move ahead with his next acquisition. 

“Kitana & Mileena (Part 2)” continues the story arch that began with last weeks “Kitana and Mileena (Part 1).”  It continues to establish the more fantastical side of the Mortal Kombat mythos as the series inches further toward the cosmic tournament after which it is named.  It also sets up the rivalry between Kitana and Mileena while further developing the character of the former.

Assassination day.

This episode doesn’t save the promised bout between Kitana and Mileena for the finale while filling in the rest with flashbacks.  It picks up right where the first episode left off.  The fight is accomplished largely through the expected speed ramping and slow motion, but has an element of grace that was lacking in earlier episodes.  There are lots of acrobatics and fancy leg work, with finishing moves that look rather painful.  Larnell Stovall has managed to give each fight its own unique identity via different styles.

In keeping with the stylistic choices established in part 1, this episode makes extensive use of animated sequences with a limited amount of actual animation.  Last week I mentioned that they were reminiscent of Kill Bill Volume 1.  I now have to recant that observation as the sequences have very little in common with anime stylistically.  Photographic effects are used to create the illusion of movement.  None of it is bad, mind you, just clearly done under budgetary constraints.

Ninja down!

The animation does share one vital thing in common with Kill Bill Volume 1.  The more violent elements of the story are pretty much relegated to the animated vignettes.  In Kill Bill Volume 1, this was done to avoid being denied an R-Rating by the MPAA.  A preteen Orin Ishii was shown gutting a Yakuza boss with a Katana very slowly while straddling him in the middle of a sexual act.  The animation served as camouflage for the combination of graphic violence and sexuality involving an underage girl and a grown man.  Mortal Kombat uses it merely to portray violence that would likely look too obviously phony if rendered with CG in live action.

Considering that the last two episodes combine so many different elements to tell their story, the results feel decidedly adequate.  The events depicted are fairly epic, but they don’t really play that way.  This is possibly due to extremely short running time of the episodes, which forces the filmmakers to tell their stories quickly.  Then again, I also wonder if may be that the series won’t make sense until every episode can be viewed in succession in one sitting.  This may be a case of heightened expectations preventing fans from seeing the forest for the trees. 



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