Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match (2023) Review
For the latest instalment in its animated franchise, Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match, Warner Bros. takes us back to Los Angeles in the 80s where Johnny Cage (Joel McHale, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, Becky), a C list action hero with an A list ego, is about to get his big break. Or was, until his co-star Jennifer Grey (Jennifer Grey, Ritual, Red Dawn) doesn’t show up for filming.
Johnny and his nerdy assistant Brian (Phil LaMarr, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Babylon 5: The Road Home) go over to her mansion to convince her to return to the set. As they drive, Johnny relates a Karate Kid like story of how he got into the martial arts and ended up in Hollywood. But once he gets to Jennifer’s house, he finds himself in the midst of a fight between Kia (Grey Griffin, Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!, The Loud House) and Ashrah (Kelly Hu, The Orville, Warehouse 13).
Fittingly, director Ethan Spaulding (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, Scooby-Doo: Return to Zombie Island) and writer Jeremy Adams (Justice League: Warworld, Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind) stage Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match in the style of an 80s action film. The above-mentioned fight leads to an exploding mansion a chase between cars, a motorcycle and a tour bus with the tour bus turning someone in a big red smear. “Damn pigeons” says the driver as he turns on the wipers. Through luck as much as anything, Cage comes out of it alive and in possession of the scroll they were fighting over.
Cage, who looks like he drove out of an episode of Miami Vice with his white coat and red Ferrari, soon finds he can’t trust anyone as his agent, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried (Up All Night, Beverly Hills Cop II) in one of his last roles, attacks him trying to get their hands on the scroll. It seems the conspiracy theories about Satan running Hollywood are true, sort of. It’s actually Shinnok (Robin Atkin Downes, Vindicta, Batman: Soul of the Dragon) and his followers, and they’re planning to open a gate to the NetherRealm in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.
There’s a lot to like about Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match, starting with the action scenes that involve everything from martial arts duels to magic spells, even a chopper and a rocket launcher. There are also some great lines, “You think you can intimidate me? I’m an assistant, I get tortured for money” Brian tells one of Shinnok’s minions. Shinnok himself gets called an “Even whiter David Bowie” by Cage before the final fight.
The animation itself is impressive, with a stylized 80s look and dynamic fight choreography that looks much better than the previous film in the franchise, Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind. The voice acting is also excellent, especially from McHale, who succeeds in making the full of himself Cage funny and likeable. That includes voiceovers, including a Deadpool style fourth wall break that’s laugh out loud funny.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match isn’t without its problems, though. While there is plenty of action and enough gore to justify its “R” rating, the pace does drag in a few places, such as all the dialogue between Johnny and his agent before he reveals himself. The characters are also extremely thin, even for a video game spinoff. A bit more backstory for Ashrah and Brian would have been nice.
Overall, Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match is a well done and very entertaining film that provides a nice change of pace from the other film’s more serious tone. It should also hold fans over until the release of the upcoming live action Mortal Kombat sequel, with Dredd’s Karl Urban as Johnny Cage.
Warner Bros. Entertainment will release Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match on Blu-ray as well as to Digital Platforms on October 17th.