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  • bespin007928 May 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    Back in the day, I was a big MK fanatic. One night, I saw this tape at a video store and rented it. After seeing STREET FIGHTER II: THE ANIMATED MOVIE, I was psyched. When I hit "Play", things really started to go down hill.

    *PLOT SPOILERS* It started out on Shang Tsung's ship en route to the tournament. Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya get jumped by Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Raiden breaks up the scuffle between the fighters and scolds Tsung for making them fight before the tournament started.

    The rest of the movie pretty much is Raiden explaining stuff about Mortal Kombat and the stakes at risk, stuff about Tsung, and tournament champion Goro.

    Finally, a bunch of Baraka-lookalikes come charging the the three Kombatants from Earth. Then, we get the *glorious* ending where the narrator tells the audience to watch the live-action film.

    *END PLOT SPOILERS* In terms of animation, it was a bit on the cheap side. In the 2-D category, they reused a lot of shots (Tsung leaving and entering entering his cabin, for example), if it was THAT low-budget, why bother making it in the first place? As for the CG, I'll try to be nice as it was the mid-90's... the backgrounds were alright for my taste, but the fights Raiden relates to the fighters left A LOT to be desired. They move a bit slow and tend to leave a slight afterimage or shadow.

    The music was the film's saving grace for me. It captures the atmosphere of the otherworldly events. I have no complaints there.

    Final verdict: I will not recommend it to anyone expecting the story to continue. The animation's cheap and the "ending" really killed the potential it could have had. Though they did have profiles for the characters from MKI at the end (but not for Kano and Reptile), it's little to add to the mess.
  • Released by Turner Home Video and produced by Threshold Entertainment, "Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins" is a very peculiar 90's relic made to cash in on the video-rental market craze and the ever-growing popularity of its video-game source material. And while I will admit it does have a certain nostalgic "so bad, it's kinda good" charm for me as a man who actually rented the the VHS tape repeatedly from my local Video King as a kid... it's a pretty sad and obvious gimmick release looking back. Essentially an overlong commercial made to promote a massive media franchise.

    1995 was very much the year of "Mortal Kombat"- not only ushering in the release of the third game in the series, but also seeing the launch of various merchandise and tie-in media, including toys, a live-tour based on the games and the incredibly popular theatrical film adaptation by Paul W.S. Anderson. "The Journey Begins" is essentially a very crafty, trendy cash-in on the "Mortal Kombat" tidal-wave, produced as more of a marketing piece to promote the live-action feature than as an honest film in itself. Methodically pieced together to have as much appeal as possible without actually making much effort.

    The short film (accompanied on the original tape by some other franchise-related content to pad out the runtime) is presented as an "official prequel" to the feature film adaptation. It revolves around the characters of Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage as they board a rickety old ship on their way to the Mortal Kombat tournament, in addition to some early adventures they encounter upon arrival. On their adventure, they learn the fundamentals of the tournament and what it represents, and we are also given a bit of backstory on several characters that the film adaptation had to leave under- developed due to the plethora of characters featured. So we finally learn more about fan-favorites like Scorpion, Sub-Zero and even Goro.

    Problem is... the short doesn't work as either a prequel or as a standalone project, and it's reliant solely on trendy, dated effects to snag a quick buck from kids. It's a wholly cynical affair. Despite billing itself as a "prequel" to the movie, it's barely connected. Characters not only look, sound and act differently... but even the story itself is radially altered at times. What makes it all the more confusing is that this is supposed to take place BEFORE the events of the film. (It's a "prequel" after all...) And yet, it portrays the same basic events we see in the first act of the movie. Huh? OK, so maybe it's better viewed as a sort-of child-friendly remake of the film? ...Nah! It doesn't work that way either, because it's only presenting part of the story and lacks resolution. (And that's not spoiling anything at all... they advertise it as such.) So on one hand... it fails as a prequel to the film. And on the other... it fails at being its own thing. Whose the target audience supposed to be, again? And I say that knowing I rented this at least two or three times growing up. But looking back... I can't see why I did that.

    A big part of the push of this release was also the then cutting- edge combination of classic 2D and modern 3D animation techniques. This was one of the first releases to really push the fact that the filmmakers used motion-capture technology- a technique that allowed real-world movement from actors and stuntmen to be mapped directly onto digital models. And, yeah... I guess it was kinda cool seeing a direct-to- video movie that incorporated about 10 minutes or so of purely- digital fight scenes, in addition to mapping 2D hand-drawn characters over 3D backgrounds. But the problem is... that's all the short really has going for it. The writing is incredibly shoddy, and characters are all pretty unlikable as presented here, with some of the lamest gags thrown in for cheap laughs and a lot of really cringe-worthy moments. A far-cry from the excellent casting and good humor of the movie this is supposed to precede. So the animation is to the service of really sub-par material, and thus feels flat and pointless. There's also the fact that the film came out at a time where digital effects were still in their infancy, so within a year of release, they looked instantly dated.

    This is also a very cheap experience despite the motion-capture and 3D animation technology being presented. Outside of sequences involving those techniques... the rest of the film looks rushed and patched together. Animations are often repeated 2, 3, 4 or more times. There's a lot of lazy padding with artificial slow-motion that's created by repeating frames and adding a vague blur-effect. And any time more than a few characters on screen, you'll notice that the majority of them won't move, or that they'll only move one at a time.

    Still... for fans of the overall media franchise titan that is "Mortal Kombat", I'd say it's worth watching once for laughs. Don't get me wrong... "The Journey Begins" is terrible from any conceivable standpoint. But it's still a piece of "Mortal Kombat" history, and it's got a certain kitschy charm to it, especially if you grew up watching it or the other movies and cartoons associated with it. Also, it has the wonderful Jim Cummings providing several of the voices. So there's also that.

    I give it a terrible but very mildly entertaining 2 out of 10.
  • holy_fluck9 June 2003
    First of all, I'll start by saying that I'm a huge Mortal Kombat fan so I got this thinking it would be pretty good. Well I'll tell ya, this was brutal, well its not so much the story that is bad but the animation and the art. The art is some of the worst I've seen in an animated video and the computer graphics is cheap and the fights repeat the same moves alot. This looked like it was a cheap and lazy attempt to get Mortal Kombat out everywhere and milk the name. The thing that I liked was the Making of Mortal Kombat:The Movie at the end of the video.
  • Those are the only three words needed to describe this abomination, "Ugly Anime Wannabe." The only thing worse is when it goes into poor quality CJI. Now the fact that it was made in 95 is no excuse for that. Toy Story same out in the same year. As for the non CJI animation, well Little Norse Prince was made in 1968, 27 years before MK:TJB and the animation in LNP is still a hundred times better. So knowing that the CJI is poor quality for it's time and the animation would have been poor quality if it was made 30 years ago, IF you can forgive that, how is the story? Well it is competing with the CJI and animation to see what can be the worst. You get a bit of info about why they are going to the island. Raiden has 3 boring flashbacks all in that terrible quality CJI and it ends with them going to compete. So no tournament. Just 3 boring flashbacks and one or two badly animated fights. As I said before, Ugly Anime Wannabe.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins is pretty much a fatality to any good hope for a animated series of Mortal Kombat.

    Mortal Kombat is one of the biggest successful game series in the 90s but this film was pretty much a let down.

    It is a "Prequel" To the event of the first film but it just don't hold up.

    It would had appear that the writers clearly wanted to have a cash in on the success of Mortal Kombat.

    The animation is a cross between Hand drawn and CGI mixing the two together make it looks down right awful the characters are clearly hand drawn as they are like they were paste together on the screen.

    The film is just downright boring from the story to the animation Jennifer Hale, Jim Cummings and Jeff Bennett are amazing voice actors but they couldn't save the film from it's boring script to the downright God Awful animation.

    Do yourself a favor and never watch this film it just boring that needs The MK voice say "FINISH HIM"!

    I give Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins an 2 out of 10
  • Back in the 90's Mortal Kombat was everywhere. The video game was incredibly popular, the movie is considered one of the best video game adaptations out there and the theme song by the Utah Saints was pretty kick ass. So what do you do when you own the rights to it? Make a cartoon tie in of course that came out after the first Mortal Kombat movie, before the second Mortal Kombat movie and takes place before the first Mortal Kombat movie. How does that work?

    This was the brainchild of Lawrence Kasanoff and his production company "Threshold Entertainment". He's the one responsible for all TV and movie versions of Mortal Kombat included the live action tour. He's also the one responsible for the terrible movie "Foodfight!" and when you see some of the crappy CGI in this cartoon you'll start to understand the problems.

    The story itself is pretty basic. We're introduced to Sonya, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage and Raiden heading to Outworld for the Mortal Kombat tournament. Along the way we're introduced to other characters in both 2D and 3D animation and neither one is very good. This was at that point in the 90's when people tried to combine the two because it was cheaper than having to animate by hand. But it's far from seamless and there's a real disconnect between the two styles. Then there are the crappy 3D scenes that look like they were done at minimal cost using blocky characters who don't move very well and don't change facial expressions just like in "Foodfight!". Seems like Lawrence never actually learned from his mistakes.

    The 2D animations are just as bad with the same repeated cycles, characters that don't move, other characters that are just repeated over and over again and a strange beveled effect that just shows even more how the two styles don't mix well.

    It's thankfully very short and if you've seen the original movie... there's nothing really new here. They talk a bit about Goro and his brother but that's about it.

    This is really just a cheap cash grab made by people who don't understand how to do animation and based on later works never learned how to do it properly. If you want something better, and by this I mean better in a technical sense, watch "Defenders of the Realm". It's awful but compared to this it's like it was made by Disney.
  • johnnycage103 January 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    This cartoon is definitely worth checking out. As far as I'm concerned, it's set in the same universe as the great, first MK movie, though there are some differences, mostly the absence of Kano and Shang Tsung being an old and conniving weasel instead of the confident way he was superbly portrayed by Cary Tagawa in the following film.

    Not surprisingly, it's used as an advertisement vehicle for that film, which is fine with me. But back to the cartoon, it shows some beautiful background animation, even by today's standards, and considering it's from 1995, that's saying a lot. I challenge anyone to find prettier eye candy than the water, or island, or cave, or sky, as are done in this cartoon. Second, we find out some very well-written past history on many of the MK movie's participants. Shang Tsung's victory over the temple master was very dramatic and sad (imagine being the master's students who found his body, and realized that the soul had been removed after death), in addition to the history of the ultimate villain, which being Goro. Here, we learn the type of parenting that fed Goro's bloodlust, leading him to kill his older, stronger brother, and Kung Lao, the human champion. It's very heartbreaking, and infuriating, to see Goro kill these two noble characters, especially Kung Lao, as this human was clearly kicking his rear end for quite a while before Goro simply used his massive size to his advantage.

    Fortunately, we MK movie fans know that Goro will be meeting his end at the hands of an arrogant, yet very smart and brave, Johnny Cage quite soon after this cartoon, in an ironic recreation of the way he murdered Durak. Third, the music to this cartoon is one of the beautiful and most haunting you'll ever hear. It was enough for me to buy the soundtrack, while the graphics and story were enough for me to buy the tape.

    Which isn't to say it's perfect. There are scenes where some shots are repeated, and needlessly so. Having the last fight where the three heroes take on hordes of expendable nomads could've been shorter and just as effective. I know that's the reason why so many people dislike this. But it's a very small minus in a filmstrip that's otherwise full of pluses.

    So highly, highly recommended.
  • drdmitchell16 November 2018
    Well. With the exception of my picking it up at a garage sale in the early 2000's I most likely would have missed it entirely. I am a huge fan of the game and my 8 year old mind was Blown Away from the live action film. This small piece of MK history is important as it pre-dates MK3, which was the massive change of the series,(as every game since them has been made from it. This film is the missing links from the charactors that we did not fully know about at the time. Plus after the movie they had cheat codes for MK3. That was nice. Good little cartoon with crummy CGI. Enjoyable for a fan.