Game – TV/WEb Series Review: Mortal Kombat Legacy – Season 2


It’s back!

The first season of Mortal Kombat Legacy appeared online in 2011 & came as a real surprise. Taking the mythos & wonder of the MK universe & giving it a real world twist, it was 9 episodes of clever origin stories that expanded on the games. I loved it & you can read my episode reviews on the site.

I’ve waited with baited breath for season 2 & when a trailer surfaced a few months ago showing new characters & the start of the infamous tournament I could barely contain my excitement.

Episode 1

Episode 1 introduces a character that I had expected to see in season 1…Liu Kang.

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We see Liu Kang looking a bit of a mess in some seedy bar. He is getting drunker by the minute with some intentionally awful karaoke going on in the background. Some gangsters arrive & when one gets up to sing a song (also intentionally badly) it seems to trigger something in Liu Kang who snatches the mic from his hand & tells him to not sing that song.

Naturally they don’t take kindly to this & a fight ensues.

This is where MK Legacy shows of its adult themes as this fight is extremly violent & even sees Liu Kang breaking bones with his hands. It’s nasty & showcases a host of hidden rage within Liu. As the fight continued I wondered what had driven him to such acts & when 1 gangster gets the upper hand on Liu he lets him beat him over & over again while screaming for more punishment. It’s very effective…

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Liu is then rescued by a monk in a large hat (Kung Lao) & is taken outside. However Liu Kang is not happy to see Kung Lao & they exchange words in the alley outside. It seems something happened a long time ago to make Liu Kang hate Kung Lao & he is unable to forgive him no matter what Kung Lao says.

Kung Lao is to represent Earth realm at the tournament, a role Liu Kang had once done. After hitting Kung Lao in the face & trying to goad him into a fight Liu tells him to leave & Kung Lao walks away with a look of despair. The episode ends with Liu Kang touching a ring hanging from his neck.

As an opener this is exactly what I wanted, it left me wanting more!

The introduction of one of the series regulars in Liu Kang was a great step & I never forsaw him being such a mess. I can’t wait to find out why (although I have a idea) & where his conflict with Kung Lao has come from. Talking of Kung Lao…I was never a fan of the character in the games & after watching every episode of the TV MK series (Mortal Kombat: Konquest) I have a view of Kung Lao that will take some changing. Well from now on when I hear the name I will thing of the Legacy version as he is just brilliant.

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His look of pain once he realises he can’t get through to Liu Kang & that it is probably his own fault was amazing & I think it was very smart to make him a representative of Earth for the tournament.

A top start that will take some beating over the series.

Episode 2

Episode 2 continues the Liu Kang/Kung Lao story from the first episode as we flash back to 10 years before. Liu Kang is a cook at a diner & is dating the owners daughter. He has asked her to marry him & shows the ring (the one that is hanging from his neck 10 years later) but they are debating when to tell her father.

A group of thugs then burst in attempting to rob the diner, they are desperate & end up killing Liu’s future wife. We then jump back to present day (with a lot more understanding about what has messed Liu Kang up so much).

Back in the present we see Kung Lao taking part in his temples ritual, he gets up & leaves walking to a nearby alleyway. He calls the portal to the MK tournament & leaves appearing at a rocky beach ready to fight.

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Alongside him appears Curtis Stryker (the first of a few characters who have changed actors since season 1) & Johnny Cage (also played by someone different – Johnny ‘fucking’ Rico, man!). They have a bit of interaction were Stryker questions why Cage is here & Cage mocks Stryker’s stun gun.

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Their attention is then diverted by the arrival of 2 ninja’s, one who appears to be blind. Raiden then makes an appearance declaring them all allies (also played by a new actor) before we head off to another part of the beach for the appearance of the opposing side led by Shang Tsung (looking a lot older now).

Melina, Kitana, a demon creature that I didn’t recognise (later revealed to be Ermac) & Scorpion. The episode ends with the final fighter appearing, an enraged Liu Kang. Shang Tsung then utters the immortal line “it has begun”.

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Once again I was left wanting more, the short length of this episode is really noticable & when removing the ‘previously on’ & ‘next time on’ the episode is barely 6 minutes long. Thats short even for this series! Saying that though is does a great job of fitting in as much as possible.

Seeing the reason behind Liu Kang’s mess of a life was great & I now have a lot of sympathy for the character. I’m still unsure about why he hates Kung Lao but I’m sure that will be revealed in the future, espically considering they are both at the tournament on opposing sides.

The introuduction of the tournament was cool, the characters chosen are good & I’m looking forward to seeing Scorpion & Sub-Zero face off. I do think we could have done with a few more involved but I suppose it would have been over-kill to have them all revealed at once.

Which brings me to the numerous actor changes….

The time between this & the last has meant some just weren’t available & others had moved on. Some of the choices were excellent such as Casper Van Dien who now plays Johnny Cage. He looks the part of an aging has-been actor with hidden talents. I’m a fan of the actor thanks to his amazing turn in Starship Troopers.

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The other actor changes are not that noticable other then Raiden. I’m disappointed that the orignal actor has not returned as his episode in season 1 was one of the best. The new actor only gets a line so I don’t want to judge him to harshly yet.

Live-action Mortal Kombat has never looked this good & I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Episode 3

Episode 3 begins with the warriors of Earth realm sitting around a camp fire as Raiden explains that they all have hidden powers that are amplified while here at the tournament. He displays his own by relighting the fire when it suddenly goes out & focuses on the blinded warrior Kenshi as he talks. Johnny Cage remains sceptical until Sub-Zero appears & puts the fire out using his own power (ice).

We are then treated to the back story of the greatest swordsman alive, Kenshi.

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We see him before he lost his sight in feudal Japan. He is relaxing eating an apple in the woods when he hears cries for help. An old man is being attacked & his belongings ransacked by 3 thugs. Kenshi attempts to stop them non-violently but is forced to act. It’s a brief fight resulting in 3 very dead thugs.

The old man is very grateful & they share food together later that night. The old man acknowledges Kenshi’s talent with a sword & recants a tale about the deadliest sword in the world, created by the dark emperor Shao Kahn. To get it a warrior has to enter the lair of Ermac, a demon tasked with protecting it & beat him in a challenge. Win…take the sword & leave but lose & Ermac takes your soul. He has never lost…

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Kenshi is dismissive of the fairytale but when the old man reveals he knows Kenshi’s name & that he also knows the whereabouts of the sword Kenshi’s interest increases.

The final part of the episode sees Kenshi arriving at the lair of Ermac. It is a desolate place with the bodies of his fallen foes scattered around. Kenshi enters the cave & we hear a deep disembodied voice, saying “we are many & you are one”.

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Phew…

A lot happened in a short amount of time here & I was pleasantly surprised that the unknown Kenshi would have such an interesting story. The idea of a blind swordsmen having to rely on his instincts is an excellent idea & fits the MK universe wonderfully.

I’m not convinced on the quality of the actor playing Raiden & next to Johnny Cage he looks very ordinary. The rest…well they don’t really have much to do beside Kenshi…after all this is his episode.

It helps that Kenshi looks the part & that his younger self has an almost arrogant swagger about him. His decimation of the trio of thugs in the woods is both exciting & gory…a combination welcome in Legacy Season 2. A minor complaint though has to be the decision for Kenshi, the thugs & the old man to speak perfect English. Being feudal Japan I would have much preferred sub-titles like Sub-Zero & Scorpions sections. It just draws me into the moment more…

Like all the episodes so far it is far too short but the proposed Ermac/Kenshi fight in Episode 4 is building up nicely.

Episode 4

Episode 4 continues on from the Kenshi story from the last & sees him entering Ermac’s cave. He spies the fabled sword stuck through a large rock & as he reaches for it Ermac speaks challenging him a fight.

As Kenshi prepares to be attacked Ermac appears behind him & before Kenshi can react shoots some sort of green roots outs of his arms. We then don’t get to see what else happens as the camera focuses outside as an explosion rocks the cave. Kenshi staggers out with the sword in hand before dropping to the ground. He lifts his head & we see that his eyes are badly cut & bleeding. He tries to focus on his hand but clearly can’t see it.

This is how Kenshi got blinded…

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Cut back to the tournament & Kenshi is taking as walk…it is a great time for us to see how he handles his blindness. He makes his way to a large tree where he then gets attacked by his old enemy Ermac who is fighting for the Outworld warriors.

This time we get to see the fight in all its glory. Kenshi may as well not be blind as his instincts are so impressive that he takes the fight to Ermac. The make-up of the fight changes when Kenshi inadvertently puts his arms up to block from an Ermac attack & he fires of some sort of energy pulse that knocks Ermac back.

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Enraged Ermac calls upon his power that sees green roots erupting from his arms & tying Kenshi to the ground before beginning to strangle him. Using his newly discovered energy powers Kenshi manages to pull his sword towards him, escaping the roots & blasting the sword through Ermac’s chest.

The episode ends with the sword embedded in a tree with blood dripping down the handle. As the screen turns to black we hear Shang Tsung say “fatality”.

So that’s our Kenshi lot for Season 2 & wasn’t it good?

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An interesting character with a good reason to want to end Ermac (and vice versa). As brief as these episodes are the history between the warring duo was handled well. As was the introduction of Kenshi’s powers…he didn’t just start throwing fireballs around. His first action came via him trying to defend himself, the second when he was being strangled & the last when he was finally in the position to end this.

This battle was also the very first tournament fight (noticeable for Shang Tsung’s “fatality” as the screen went black) & made it clear that the tournament would be a much more free for all affair…something that I quite liked the sound of.

So 4 episodes in & its 1-0 to the Earth Realm warriors.

Episode 5

This episode opens with an overview of the Kitana & Mileena story up to this point showing some of the moments from the very first season. Kitana is now aware that Shao Kahn is not her father & that Mileena is not her sister. They have a heated exchange about what their orders are & we get a nice reminder of Mileena’s other skills.

She bares her sharp teeth in reply to a Kitana insult before controlling herself.

It turns out they are both to fight for Outworld in the tournament. Kitana is clearly un-willing to fight on the side of the Emperor but reluctantly gears up.

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Shortly afterwards they appear in the woods where the Earth realm fighters are. Mileena’s frustration boils over with a moody Kitana but before they can get into it they hear the sounds of a fight so go to investigate.

Meanwhile Johnny Cage is taking a nice stroll through the same woods when he also hears the sounds of fighting so goes off to investigate. The 2 sides arrive at the Ermac & Kenshi battle & watch unaware of each other’s presence. Kitana & Cage appear worried as Kenshi is being strangled while Mileena is clearly enjoying it.

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Cage is shocked to see Kenshi use his power & takes a step back snapping a dry twig & gaining the attention of Mileena & Kitana. His initial reaction to seeing two scantily clad females is one of most men but when Mileena bares her teeth & roars at him he quickly realises a fight is coming.

The episode ends with Cage running for his life from an attacking Mileena.

I sound like a broken record here but this is easily the shortest episode in the series. With the back-story of Kitana & Mileena & showing parts of the fight of Kenshi & Ermac again there must be only 3-4 minutes of actual new content here. It is extremely disappointing to see a constant recap of what has already happened.

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That begin said I did really enjoy Kitana & Mileena’s interaction here. I like that Mileena has clearly come to terms with her animalistic ways & she does a great job of controlling an obvious urge to rip Kitana’s head off.

I would have liked to see Shao Kahn appear in a scene briefly between the 2 but that wasn’t to be.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Cage in action & while it didn’t happen in this episode the ending suggests it is bound to happen in the next (although I doubt Kitana is just going to stand by).

Episode 6

Time for some girl on girl action…

That’s right Kitana & Mileena are finally going to kick the crap out of each other but first…

Oh look who is in a jail cell!

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Seems like the problems Cage had in the first season have carried over. His knuckles are cut & he is clearly distressed sitting among the riff-raff. As one of his cell-mates bends over to throw up the contents of his stomach he suddenly freezes mid-flow as does everyone else in the cell.

Cage begins to panic thinking it is a hallucination & then Raiden steps out of the shadows. He asks Cage if he will fight for Earth Realm & is pleased that Cage turned down Shang Tsung’s offer to fight for Outworld. Johnny is convinced though that he is going crazy & that both Raiden & Shang Tsung are just voices in his head. Raiden promises to leave Johnny alone if he will make a decision.

Flash forward back to the tournament & Cage is forced to stop running & fight Mileena. He gives it his all even though he is up against a much more refined fighter. Eventually Mileena gets the upper hand & pins Cage to a tree with one of her daggers (through his shoulder – no less).

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Kitana finally arrives & Mileena tells her to finish Cage off but Kitana refuses. Mileena is enraged, lets Cage drop & turns her attention to Kitana declaring her weak. The 2 finally face off with the resulting battle bloody & brutal.

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Just as it appears Mileena is about to deliver the killing blow Cage stabs her in the foot with one of her dropped daggers & Kitana cuts her head off.

As she recovers Cage takes the opportunity to run off again.

How’s that for an action-packed episode? 2 fights & while both are short they both have interesting conclusions. Kitana has effectively joined Earth Realm (as you would expect) killing Mileena along the way (wish she hadn’t died – she was a very interesting character) & we got to see Cage in action.

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Speaking of Johnny…once again he is the standout performer in an episode & his interaction with Raiden in the cell is priceless. That is why you hire good actors to play these roles! It was good to see him fight & show his obvious skill & I liked the fact he referenced the first season by declaring that Mileena “got caged, bitch” after he kicked her around a bit.

More of this sort of thing please!

Episode 7

Episode 7 revisits the most interesting story from season 1, Scorpion & Sub-Zero.

If you remember in season 1 Scorpion was led to believe that Sub-Zero & his clan attacked & murdered his clan & family over a long running feud. After Scorpion is killed & frozen by Sub-Zero it is revealed to have been the work of Quan-Chi & Shang Tsung to get Scorpion to fight for Outworld. Scorpion returns from death enraged & ready to fight for Outworld.

This episode begins with a young Sub-Zero & Scorpion having a mock fight in a field. Sub-Zero’s younger brother comes to tell Sub-Zero something but he is told to go away & insulted by Scorpion. It appears the 2 boys from warring clans are friends & having fun when they are interrupted by their respective fathers & commanded to “get over here”.

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As the 2 sides walk away the young Sub-Zero questions his father as to why he can’t be friends with Scorpion. His father tells him that it is just the way it is & that it will always be that way.

Fast-forward to just before the murder of Scorpions family & clan. The man, his wife & son are taking a peaceful walk. The couple’s son runs off ahead to collect a pine-cone when a shadow looms over him. As Scorpion & his wife catch up they see him in the hands of Sub-Zero’s younger brother & a few of his friends. They attempt to intimidate Scorpion & when he implies that he will tell his older brother of this incident the younger is clearly insulted & draws his sword.

Forced to fight to protect his family…Scorpion kills them all.

The aftermath of this incident sees Scorpion & Sub-Zero meeting at the place they played together as kids. Scorpion is filled with regret for killing Sub-Zero’s brother while Sub-Zero is clearly upset over losing him. A man of honour, Sub-Zero recognises that Scorpion had little choice in dealing with his brother & he assures Scorpion that there would be no repercussions. Together they agree to stop this clan feud & agree to peace.

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The Scorpion/Sub-Zero storyline is probably the best thing in Mortal Kombat Legacy. It’s filled with rich history & interesting plot points. It’s nice to see that they have history not just be told they do. It makes the Quan-Chi/Shang Tsung deception all the cleverer & evil when you consider the fact that Sub-Zero promised no repercussions. How that must look in Scorpions eyes!

The one draw back is the fight & deaths of Sub-Zero’s brother & his friends are played out of screen. The build-up though is very tense & the hidden threat that Scorpion holds makes him a scary character to imagine fighting for Outworld.

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They do a great job of ensuring the clan feud is pointless & that its original meaning is long lost. It has been this for centuries & will remain that way for many more….

This is probably my favourite episode in Season 2.

Episode 8

So we finally have reached the face-off we’ve been waiting for…Scorpion vs Sub-Zero.

Remember the promise made by Sub-Zero about no repercussions?

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The episode begins just after the deaths of Scorpion, his family & his clan with Sub-Zero being woken up to be told of the incident. He confronts 2 of the men suspected to have caused it & demands answers. He is furious & refuses to accept their denials of involvement. As he draws his sword to kill them he is interrupted by a clan advisor who backs their story.

We then skip to the tournament to see Scorpion mediating; his memories show him with his family & the incident that followed including the fight with Sub-Zero in the road from season 1.

Back with Sub-Zero who is being told of a warning the advisor had come across when doing his duties, it mentions Shang Tsung. The advisor accuses Sub-Zero of only accepting what he can see so starts a meditative chant that shows him what happened to Scorpion as well as Quan-Chi’s involvement. Sub-Zero realises that they have both been deceived.

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Back in the tournament field, Scorpion finishes his meditation & goes to look for Sub-Zero disappearing in a flash of fire.

Meanwhile Sub-Zero is walking across a field when Scorpion arrives…Scorpion doesn’t give him time to explain before attacking & Sub-Zero is forced to defend himself. Sub-Zero is the better fighter & would probably beat Scorpion if it wasn’t for his ability to disappear & re-appear elsewhere. Just when Sub-Zero has the upper hand & fires a blast of ice at Scorpion he disappears in flash, re-appearing & burying his weapon in Sub-Zero’s foot before disappearing again.

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A hurt & panicked Sub-Zero tries to explain to Scorpion that he didn’t kill his family & that his is being deceived but Scorpion refuses to listen. The episode ends with Scorpion reappearing behind Sub-Zero & ripping his head & spine off.

It’s unexpected & the sight of an enraged Scorpion holding the head & spine up while roaring is one the sights of the series.

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Wait a minute….did they just kill off Sub-Zero? One of MK’s most important characters? Now that I didn’t see coming…very impressive. I wonder what the plan is for Scorpion now? Presumably he will find out that Shang Tsung & Quan Chi killed his family & clan at some point in the future.

Sadly this exciting development is about all that was good about this episode. The first problem I had with this episode is the outfit of Sub-Zero…what no blue at all? It likes some sort of biker outfit & I didn’t like it. The fight is far too slow, it looks slow & feels slow. The outfits clearly causing a problem with movement.

It’s frustrating as both men are brilliant actors & the feud is extremely believable! I hope there is a bigger plan for the duo…

Episode 9

The heading ‘2 weeks ago’ appears & we arrive inside a motel room. A man is having an angry exchange with another who is seated with his back to the first. A deal appears to have gone bad & after not getting an answer from the seated man the other shoots him in the head. He gets up to inspect the body & discovers that his throat had already been slashed.

Behind him a door swings open to show Liu Kang stepping forward.

The next time we see Liu Kang he is seated in a restaurant eating when he is joined by Shang Tsung. After a little bit of banter & a trip down memory lane (to a previous tournament & Liu Kang’s win) Shang Tsung has an offer for Liu Kang, fight for Outworld. Liu Kang dismisses it as he has always fought for Earth Realm but Shang Tsung brings up Liu’s current job…a hitman.

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Shang Tsung offers revenge on Kung Lao & humanity if Liu will fight for Outworld. He describes humanities evils as reason for Liu to hate them all & uses the death of his fiancé to drive the point home. By the end of the episode you are left knowing how Shang Tsung managed to talk Liu Kang into fighting for Outworld.

It seems like not a lot actually happens in this episode but for character development it is one of the most impactful episodes of the series. For starters Shang Tsung & Liu Kang directly references a previous tournament where Liu Kang emerged the victor. Their interaction at the table is one of long time associates & you feel the history between them. Shang Tsung’s passion when describing humanities ills had even me convinced we needed culling!

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If you are a long time fan of Mortal Kombat then the decision to turn Liu Kang into a bitter jaded individual is a fascinating one & to get clarification on how he got talked into fighting for the other side was a great decision. It also builds up to a much anticipated showdown between Kung Lao & Liu Kang…now that is going to be a fight!

Episode 10 – Finale

After a recap of the series so far the final episode of season 2 opens with 10 years before the tournament start & sees Kung Lao practicing his fighting skills in his temple. He is interrupted by a monk who has brought a bloodied & upset Liu Kang to him.

Liu tells Kung Lao that his fiancé is dead; Kung Lao already knows & offers his condolences but Liu doesn’t want to know. Kung Lao realises that something is wrong & asks Liu Kang what he has done; the reply he gets is “karma”.

Kung Lao is furious that Liu Kang would think he can deliver karma & accuses him of betraying his values & the values of Earth Realm. He tells Liu Kang that he shouldn’t have killed the men that killed his fiancé & that he is no better then those who follow Outworld.

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Liu Kang came to Kung Lao for understanding but Kung Lao tells him to leave & that he is on his own. Liu Kang pleads with Kung Lao but he walks off without saying a word, Liu Kang is clearly devastated.

Back at the tournament Stryker is exploring when he comes across a hurt Johnny Cage. He helps Cage with his wounds while Cage tells him what he has seen so far. Their attention is elsewhere as Liu Kang approaches & it is only Stryker reaching down to one of his pockets that allows Cage to see Liu Kang throwing a fireball. They both manage to dodge in time but Stryker is knocked out in the resulting explosion.

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Liu Kang recognises Cage & jokes about how he thought he had a stunt double. Liu Kang tells him that he is out of his league but Cage squares up for the fight. He is hopelessly outclassed with 2 hands let alone the only he is able to use & as Liu Kang goes for the killing blow Stryker shoots him with his taser gun.

Liu Kang fights through the pain & attacks Stryker who defends himself with a gun. Liu Kang easily gets the better of him but as he readies himself to shoot Stryker the gun is knocked out of his hand.

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He turns to see a shocked Kung Lao…they argue about why Liu Kang is fighting for Outworld & Kung Lao refuses to fight Liu Kang. Liu Kang declares that if he won’t fight then he will die.

The episode ends with this epic face-off & Shang Tsung’s voice saying ‘finish him’.

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So MK: Legacy ends again on a huge cliff-hanger & as a fan I can only hope the wait for the 3rd season is not as long as it was for season 2. This ending episode is fantastic & it was great to see Stryker getting into it with Liu Kang as well. Sure he is completely outmatched but what else would you expect when facing an enraged Liu Kang?

Liu’s interaction with Cage is excellent & reminds you that he is not quite like the others of the Outworld side. He is deadly & the only way I see Kung Lao beating him is by taking advantage of his rage. The thing is I can’t see Kung Lao killing Liu Kang….

One of the let-downs of the entire season has to be the length of episodes, some of them were far too short compared to the first & I hope the 3rd goes back to the original format of at least 10 minutes of new content & less previously/next times.

It is still an amazing series to watch & everyone involved should be proud.


Mortal Kombat Legacy - Season 2
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