Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a 1997 American science fantasy martial arts action film directed by John R. Leonetti. A sequel to the 1995 film Mortal Kombat, based on the video game series Mortal Kombat by Midway Games. It stars Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Brian Thompson, Sandra Hess, Lynn "Red" Williams, Irina Pantaeva, Marjean Holden, Musetta Vander, and James Remar. Although the story picks up immediately when the last film ended, all the roles have been recast, with the exception of Shou's and Soto's.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn R. Leonetti
Produced byLawrence Kasanoff
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onMortal Kombat
by Midway Games
Music byGeorge S. Clinton
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited byPeck Prior
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • November 21, 1997 (1997-11-21)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[2]
Box office$51.3 million[3]

The film's storyline was largely an adaptation of the fighting game Mortal Kombat 3, following a band of warriors as they attempt to save Earth from the evil Shao Kahn. Annihilation has been critically and near-universally panned by both fans and critics.

A film reboot is set to be released in 2021.


The evil Outworld emperor Shao Kahn opens a portal to Earthrealm (Earth) and has resurrected his queen Sindel, Princess Kitana's long-deceased mother. Earthrealm is therefore in danger of being absorbed into Outworld within six days, a fate which reigning Mortal Kombat champion Liu Kang and the other Earthrealm heroes must fight to prevent. When Kahn kills Johnny Cage during a confrontation with the thunder god and Earthrealm protector Raiden (spelled Rayden in the film), he and the remaining Earthrealm warriors must regroup and find a way to defeat Shao Kahn.

An emotionally distraught Sonya Blade enlists the help of her Special Forces partner, Jax. Together they destroy Cyrax, later in a ensuing fight Sonya kills Mileena. Kitana and Liu search for a Native American shaman named Nightwolf, who seemingly knows the key to defeating Kahn. Kitana and Liu destroy the robotic ninja Smoke with the aid of Sub-Zero (the younger brother of the one seen in the original film), but Scorpion suddenly appears, attacks Sub-Zero, and kidnaps Kitana.

Meanwhile, Rayden 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. Rayden 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 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 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, a mysterious warrior who attempts to seduce Liu and offers her assistance after he resists her advances. Liu accepts Jade's offer and takes her with him to the Elder Gods' temple, where he and his friends are to meet Rayden. The third test is never revealed.

At the temple, the Earthrealm warriors reunite with a newly shorn Rayden, who reveals that he has sacrificed his immortality to freely fight alongside them. Together, they head for Outworld to rescue Kitana and reunite her with the undead Sindel in hopes of restoring her soul and closing the Outworld portal to Earth. With Jade's help, Liu rescues Kitana, while the others find Sindel. However, 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. Rayden then reveals that Shao Kahn is his brother, and that the former Elder God Shinnok is their father. He realizes that Shinnok had lied to him and is supporting Kahn. With renewed purpose, Rayden and the Earthrealm warriors make their way to the final showdown with Kahn and his remaining generals Motaro and Ermac, along with Sindel. Shinnok demands that Rayden submit to him and restore their broken family, at the expense of his mortal friends. Rayden refuses and is killed by an energy blast from Shao Kahn.

After a hard fight, Jax, Sonya, and Kitana emerge victorious over Kahn's generals, but Liu 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 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 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. Rayden 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.



Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is loosely based on the 1995 video game Mortal Kombat 3, while featuring the character roster of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. There were also plot elements from Mortal Kombat 4, but these scenes were cut from the final theatrical version.[4] While the original attracted casual moviegoers as well as gamers, Annihilation catered exclusively to the games' fans.[5] Producer Lawrence Kasanoff said he was trying to make the film "even more spectacular than the first movie, which earned a healthy $73 million in the U.S. Annihilation is three times more ambitious than [Mortal Kombat]. Our theme for the sequel is to shoot for more—more fights, more special effects, more Outworld, more everything."[6]

Filming began in the first quarter of 1996.[7] Part of the movie was filmed on location at Parys Mountain on the island of Anglesey, off the coast of Wales (incorrectly listed as being part of England in the closing credits). Other filming locations included London, Jordan, and Thailand.[7] 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. Stephen Painter and Neill Gorton provided some of the props for the film.[8]

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.[3]

Annihilation received a 2% approval rating out of 41 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."[9] The film received an 11 out of 100 rating on Metacritic based on 12 reviews, indicating an "overwhelming dislike."[10]

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."[11] 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."[12] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "D–" rating, calling it "abysmal" and "incoherent."[13] R.L Shaffer of IGN wrote in 2011: "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."[4]

In separate 2012 interviews, Mortal Kombat co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias selected Annihilation as their personal worst moments in the history of their work on the franchise.[14][15]


Mortal Kombat: Annihilation – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedOctober 28, 1997
Industrial rock
Heavy metal
LabelTVT Records
ProducerLawrence Kasanoff
Steve Gottlieb
Professional ratings
Review scores

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is the soundtrack to the film. The Mortal Kombat theme was composed by Praga Khan and Oliver Adams. The soundtrack was released on October 28, 1997 by TVT Records.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."Theme from Mortal Kombat (Encounter the Ultimate)"The Immortals3:19
4."Almost Honest (Danny Saber Mix)"Megadeth4:01
7."Back On a Mission"Cirrus3:38
8."Panik Kontrol"Psykosonik3:22
9."Anomaly (Calling Your Name) (Granny's 7" Edit)"Libra Presents Taylor4:02
10."Ready or Not (Ben Grosse Kombat Mix)"Manbreak3:43
11."Conga Fury"Juno Reactor5:40
12."I Won't Lie Down (Kombat Mix)"Face to Face3:22
13."Brutality"Urban Voodoo4:28
14."Leave U Far Behind (V2 Instrumental Mix)"Lunatic Calm3:09
15."We Have Explosive (Radio Edit)"The Future Sound of London3:26
16."Two Telephone Calls and an Air Raid"Shaun Imrei4:43
17."Death is the Only Way Out"Joseph Bishara3:04
18."X-Squad (Original Motion Picture Score)"George S. Clinton feat. Buckethead2:34
19."Theme from Mortal Kombat (Chicken Dust Mix)"Kasz & Beal3:33
Total length:72:08

Cancelled sequel

Robin Shou's original Mortal Kombat contract was a three-picture deal,[17] and 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. Attempts to produce a third film since then have remained stuck in development hell with numerous script rewrites and storyline, cast, and crew changes. A November 2001 poll on the official Mortal Kombat website hosted by Threshold asked fans which characters they believed would die in the third movie.[18] The 2005 destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina greatly affected one of the film's planned shooting locations.[19] In June 2009, a bankruptcy court lawsuit saw Lawrence Kasanoff suing Midway Games 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.[20]


  1. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  2. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  3. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  4. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Blu-ray Review". IGN. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  5. "What's in this movie for MK gamers? 'There are more characters in this movie from the game than last time, and there's a lot of new ones, to coincide with the fourth game.' "Mortal Kombat II - Cory Doctorow, SciFi Entertainment, 11/97; reprinted on
  6. "Mortal Kombat Annihilation!". GamePro. 94: 37. May 1997.
  7. "Inside Scoop". GamePro. No. 103. IDG. April 1997. p. 20.
  8. Hughes, Dave (May 1998). "Alias Gore and Pain". Fangoria (172): 57–62 via Internet Archive.
  9. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  10. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  11. Gibner, Jason. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  12. Baumgarten, Marjorie (November 28, 1997). "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  13. Glieberman, Owen (December 5, 1997). "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  14. Reyan Ali, Ed Boon's 12 Biggest Mortal Kombat Memories,, September 12, 2012.
  15. "John Tobias: 'If I could go back and redo Kabal and Stryker I would, I don't know if I'd design them differently or just come up with new characters'". EventHubs. November 7, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  16. "Mortal Kombat Annihilation - Original Soundtrack". Allmusic.
  17. "Mortal Kombat Annihilation!". GamePro. No. 104. IDG. May 1997. p. 37.
  18. "Mortal Kombat". Threshold Entertainment. November 28, 2001. Archived from the original on November 28, 2001.
  19. Morris, Clint (February 8, 2008). "Director talks Mortal Kombat reboot". Archived from the original on August 8, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2008.
  20. "WB Picks Up Rights to Midway Video Games". July 6, 2009. Retrieved July 16, 2009.
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