Apparently, Christopher Lambert had better things to do than to star in his ho-hum sequel to the hit Mortal Kombat. It's funny how Lambert will do something like Highlander 2, but he won't star in Mortal Kombat 2. Weird. Anyway, his replacement is James (The Warriors) Remar, who is even more woefully miscast as Rayden than Lambert was. That's OK because in my book, a woefully miscast James Remar is better than no James Remar at all. (Besides, Rayden FINALLY fights this time out and even gets to do his patented "Superman" move too.)
Lambert isn't the only person from the first film who didn't bother showing up for Annihilation. Also failing to return to their roles is Bridgette Wilson as Sonya and Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage. I guess Ashby's absence isn't all that surprising since Cage gets annihilated in the very first scene! I can imagine THAT call to his agent. "Hi, we'd love to have
Even though there's only TWO returning actors from the original movie, I've got to give Annihilation props for starting off EXACTLY where the last film ended. It's rare when a movie does that. Shit, they didn't even do that in Return of the Jedi. Anyway the plot has Shao Khan (Brian Thompson from Cobra) coming through the portal of Outworld and trying to take over the world. It's up to the Mortal Kombatants Liu Kang (Robin Shou), Kitana (Talisa Soto), and Rayden (Remar) to stop him and kick anybody's ass that gets in their way.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation's fatal flaw is it's overall tone. What made the original MK flick work was that it more or less felt like a real movie. Annihilation doesn't feel like a movie, it feels like an extended episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. What works in a video game doesn't necessarily work in a movie and characters like Smoke, Cyrax, and Jax just look straight up goofy when they are removed from the game and placed into the cinematic world. Characters like Motaro (Centaur dude) and Sheeva (Four-armed lady) should've been fun, but their appearances carry no weight and they just look stupid. Another thing that kicks the movie in the groin is the pathetic CGI monsters. They make the shitty FX in Spawn look like ILM material. Also, all the fight scenes are marred with incredibly silly looking special effects and obvious stunt doubles. Luckily, those stunt doubles are pretty spectacular and include such soon-to-be-famous action heroes like Ray (Darth Maul) Park and Tony (The Protector) Jaa.
Remar makes it through the flick without cracking a smile, which is admirable under the circumstances. Thompson also puts in a memorable turn as the main hammer-wielding baddie as well. But it is Musetta Vander who steals the movie as the hot as Hell Sindel. Dressed in purple spandex and sporting a mean camel toe, Vander is easily the best looking chick in the movie. (There are a lot of hot chicks in brightly colored spandex in this flick, actually.) Sure, the flick slows down to a crawl at many points, but any part where Musetta's just standing around looking dead sexy is alright by me. There's also an actor named Litefoot in this movie. (So named because he's light on his feet I suppose.)
Say what you will about the directing stylings of Paul Anderson in MK 1, he looks like Orson Welles compared to this flick's director, John Leonetti. He was the cinematographer of the first film and while he's good at the action stuff, he can't shoot a straight dialogue scene to save his life. I know you don't see Mortal Kombat movies for their dialogue scenes, but it's pretty rough going when the movie is filled with such groan inducing lines like, "Do not underestimate the power of the human spirit!"
Shou later starred in such video game movie fair like DOA: Dead or Alive and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li.