Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a 1997 American martial arts action film directed by John R. Leonetti. Based on the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games, the film is the sequel to 1995's Mortal Kombat. It stars Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Brian Thompson, Sandra Hess, Irina Pantaeva and James Remar. The storyline was largely an adaptation of Mortal Kombat 3, following a band of warriors as they attempt to save Earth from the evil Shao Kahn. Although the story picks up where the last film left off, only two of the lead actors reprised their roles. It has a 3% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes and 11/100 at Metacritic.
The evil emperor Shao Kahn opens a portal from Outworld to the Earthrealm and has reclaimed his queen Sindel, who is Kitana's long-dead mother. Earthrealm is therefore in danger of being absorbed into Outworld within six days, a fate which Liu Kang and the others must fight to prevent. Kahn fights and quickly kills Johnny Cage during the confrontation by snapping his neck, and the remaining Earthrealm warriors must regroup and find a way to defeat Shao Kahn.
An emotionally guilt-ridden Sonya Blade enlists the help of her old partner, Jax. Together they destroy Cyrax, and Sonya beats Mileena. Kitana and Liu Kang search for a Native American shaman named Nightwolf, who seemingly knows the key to defeating Kahn. Kitana and Liu Kang destroy Smoke with the aid of Sub-Zero, but Scorpion suddenly appears, attacks Sub-Zero, and kidnaps Kitana.
Meanwhile, Raiden meets with the Elder Gods and asks them why Kahn was allowed to break the tournament rules and force his way into Earthrealm, and how he can be stopped. The answers he receives are sparse and ambiguous; one says that reuniting Kitana with her mother, Sindel, is the key to breaking Kahn's hold on Earthrealm, but another Elder God insists that the defeat of Kahn himself is the solution. Raiden is then asked by the Elder Gods about his feelings and obligations towards the mortals, and what he would be willing to do to ensure their survival.
Liu Kang finds Nightwolf, who teaches him about the power of the Animality, a form of shapeshifting which utilizes the caster's strengths and abilities. To achieve the mindset needed to acquire this power, Liu Kang must pass his tests. The first is a trial of his self-esteem and focus. The second comes in the form of temptation, which manifests itself in the form of Jade, who attempts to seduce Liu Kang and offers her assistance after he resists her advances. Liu Kang accepts Jade's offer and takes her with him to the Elder Gods' temple, where he and his friends are to meet Raiden. The third test is never revealed.(though it may be hinted that it is about trust)
At the temple, the Earthrealm warriors reunite with a newly shorn Raiden, who explains that he has sacrificed his immortality to freely fight alongside them. Together, they head for Outworld to rescue Kitana and reunite her with Sindel. With Jade's help, Liu Kang rescues Kitana, while the others find Sindel. But Sindel remains under Kahn's control and escapes during an ambush, while Jade reveals herself to be a double agent sent by Kahn to disrupt the heroes' plans. Raiden then reveals that Shao Kahn is his brother, and that Elder God Shinnok is their father. He realizes that Shinnok had lied to him and is supporting Kahn. With renewed purpose, Raiden and the Earthrealm warriors make their way to the final showdown with Kahn and his generals. Shinnok demands that Raiden submit to him and restore their broken family, at the expense of his mortal friends. Raiden refuses and is killed by an energy blast from Shao Kahn.
After a hard fight, Jax, Sonya, and Kitana emerge victorious against their opponents (Motaro, Ermac and Sindel respectively), but Liu Kang struggles with Kahn, and his Animality barely proves effective, exposing a cut to Kahn that proves he is now mortal. Shinnok, who explains that these are the consequences for breaking the sacred rules, attempts to intervene and kill Liu Kang on Kahn's behalf, but two of the Elder Gods arrive, having uncovered Shinnok's treachery. They declare that the fate of Earth shall be decided in Mortal Kombat. Liu Kang finally defeats Kahn, and Shinnok is banished to the Netherrealm. Earthrealm reverts to its former state, and with Kahn's hold over Sindel finally broken, she reunites with Kitana. Raiden is revived by the other Elder Gods, who bestow upon him his father's former position. With everything right in the universe once again, the Earthrealm warriors return home.
- Robin Shou as Liu Kang
- James Remar as Raiden
- Brian Thompson as Shao Kahn
- Sandra Hess as Sonya Blade
- Talisa Soto as Kitana
- Chris Conrad as Johnny Cage
- Lynn "Red" Williams as Jax Briggs
- Keith Cooke as Sub-Zero
- Irina Pantaeva as Jade
- Reiner Schöne as Shinnok
- Musetta Vander as Sindel
- Marjean Holden as Sheeva
- Litefoot as Nightwolf
- Deron McBee as Motaro
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is loosely based on the 1995 video game Mortal Kombat 3. There were also plot elements from Mortal Kombat 4, but these scenes were cut from the movie while being filmed. While the original attracted casual moviegoers as well as gamers, Annihilation catered exclusively to the games' fans.
Part of the movie was filmed on location at Parys Mountain on the island of Anglesey. The scenes involving the Temple of The Elder Gods were filmed on location at Petra, a large temple and basin located in Jordan. In the closing credits, Wales, where several scenes were filmed, is incorrectly listed as being part of England. Though Annihilation attempted to continue in the style of the first movie, the cast of returning characters from the original was almost completely overhauled; only Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and Talisa Soto (Kitana) reprised their roles, while the only other actor to return was Keith Cooke (Reptile in the first film) as Sub-Zero.
The French release of the movie was known as Mortal Kombat: Destruction Finale (Final Destruction), while the Italian release was titled Mortal Kombat: Distruzione Totale (Total Destruction). The film's novelization by Jerome Preisler was published through Tor Books.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was released on November 21, 1997, and its opening weekend take was $16 million, enough for a number-one debut at the box office. It grossed $35 million domestically and made over $51 million worldwide.
Annihilation received a 3% approval rating out of 38 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The website's consensus states, "with its shallow characters, low budget special effects, and mindless fight scenes, Mortal Kombat - Annihilation offers minimal plot development and manages to underachieve the low bar set by its predecessor." The film received an 11 out of 100 rating on Metacritic based on twelve reviews.
Jason Gibner of Allmovie wrote, "Whereas the first film was a guilty schlock pleasure, this sequel is an exercise in the art of genuinely beautiful trash cinema." Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle opined that it was "nothing more than a perpetual chain of elaborately choreographed fight sequences that...are linked together by the most flimsy and laughable of plot elements." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "D–" rating, calling it "abysmal" and "incoherent."
According to a retrospective review by R.L Shaffer of IGN in 2013, "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a bad movie. No way around it. Over the years, however, it has evolved into a cult hit of sorts, playing as an unintentional comedy – a spoof of the early video game movies and their painfully obvious cash-in mentality." In a 2012 interview with Complex, Mortal Kombat games' co-creator Ed Boon chose Annihilation as the "worst moment" in the history of the franchise.
- Main article: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (soundtrack)
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is the soundtrack to the film. The Mortal Kombat theme was composed by Praga Khan and Oliver Adams.
Threshold Entertainment's production on a second sequel was initially scheduled to commence shortly after the release of Annihilation, but it was shelved due to Annihilation's poor reception and disappointing box-office performance. It consequently never got off the ground as it remained stuck in preproduction for over ten years, with numerous script rewrites and story changes, along with the 2005 destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, which greatly affected one of the planned shooting locations.
In June 2009, a bankruptcy court lawsuit saw Lawrence Kasanoff suing Midway while mentioning that a third film was in the works. Warner Bros. (which became the parent of New Line Cinema in 2008, after over a decade of both operating as separate divisions of Time Warner) ended up purchasing most of Midway's assets, including Mortal Kombat, the next month. In July 2009, actors Chris Casamassa (Scorpion) and Linden Ashby (Johnny Cage) separately announced that they would be reprising their respective roles from the original film, with Casamassa additionally claiming that filming would begin in September of that year, but the project still did not commence production, and aside from a poll that asked fans to vote on which major character they believed would die in the third movie, no official information on the project ever existed on the Mortal Kombat website hosted by Threshold, which itself permanently ceased updates in late 2004.