Mortal Kombat is one of the best-selling fighting game series ever created. Since it debuted in 1992, the series has inspired two movies, a television series, webseries and animated series. Sadly, none of these adaptions could duplicate the blood-soaked goodness that made Ed Boon’s brainchild so enjoyable. While the first movie gave us a worthy adaption, the follow up film fell short and the television series also refused to hit below the belt. Aa for the animated series, well…that is the subject for the return of “Cheesy Cartoons.” I’m DevilDriver1313 and let’s take a look at Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm.
Created as a follow up to the first Mortal Kombat film and the events of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Defenders of the Realm focused on a group of warriors assembled by Raiden to defend Earthrealm from invaders who entered through portals from various other dimensions. The assembled warriors included Liu Kang, Stryker, Sonya Blade, Jax, Kitana, and Sub-Zero, with Nightwolf functioning mostly as tech support but still entering the fray on various occasions. Shao Kahn appeared in the series as the main villain but only for four episodes. Unlike the live action movie, the characters display their signature moves from the game. Sonya used her Kiss of Death and Energy Ring moves, Liu Kang launched his fireballs and flying kicks, and Sub-Zero still put enemies on ice. The warriors operated out of a hidden base from where Nightwolf and Rayden monitored portal openings; the warriors would fly dragon-shaped jets to deal with disturbances.
CHEESE FACTOR!! While I will pick the animated series over Mortal Kombat: Annihilation any day of the week, Defenders of the Realm could not escape belting out cringle worthy one-liners and subpar puns. It is a shame when Sub-Zero is the constant butt of terrible cold related jokes. They were cute for about five minutes, but the frosty puns got to the point where you raise your hands in surrender and say, ‘Yeah, he has ice powers. Okay, we get it.’ And let’s not forget their ‘Kombat Time’ battle cry. I get that every hero team needs some sort of intimidating announcement of their arrival. Sadly, this isn’t it for a series that was supposed to be based on a popular game. Speaking of which, that was another issue. This is Mortal Kombat. It’s supposed to be brutal and intense, not to mention that fact that several key characters got very little to no screen time at all. Fan favorite Scorpion was relatively nonexistent in the show, making his one and only appearance in a single episode. Interestingly, this would be duplicated in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation where the Ninja Specter saw only a few minutes of screen time before being cheaply defeated.
WHY WE WATCHED! The reason is a simple one. It was an animated series of a popular game and the live action film was just a popular and better received by fighting game fans than the live action Street Fighter film. It was entertaining to see our favorite combatants in action outside the video game and learn a little more about their backstories. The show also was part of the action cartoon era of the mid to late 90s alongside Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Canon the Adventurer and Swat Kats.
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm was produced by Threshold Entertainment and Film Roman. The show aired for thirteen episodes on USA Network’s Action Extreme Team with Savage Dragon, Street Fighter and Wing Commander Academy. It aired from September to December 1996. The show was canceled after one season due to a decline in ratings. Though its time was short-lived, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm did help bolster the popularity of the arcade game and introduced Quan-Chi to the series. The series may have lost but it shall not be forgotten.
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm gets a Chees-ality rating of: