Television Series Review: 'Mortal Kombat: Conquest' (1998-1999).
'Mortal Kombat: Conquest.'
The title 'Mortal Kombat' is a title that will probably always resonate with me for as long as I live. It all started back when I was in the sixth grade. I had a Super Nintendo gaming system, and received the very first Mortal Kombat video game as a gift. Gee, thanks Santa! Anyway, I quickly became a fan of this game, and found playing it took up a lot of my time as a youth. I was even more happier when the first Mortal Kombat movie came to the big screen in 1995. I remember vividly going with a group of friends to see it. Seeing those characters from the game being played out on screen was almost surreal for me back then.
In 1999, the television network TNT premiered a version of Mortal Kombat that we hadn't seen in the games, nor the previous two Hollywood movies. This TV version of Mortal Kombat featured several popular characters from the games, but also brought to light some brand new characters. This move probably helped in keeping the loyal MK following, but also maybe drew in new fans as well. If you haven't guessed yet, I'm talking about the series - 'Mortal Kombat: Conquest'.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest was one of my favorite TV series from the late 90's. The series itself had a fairly good fan base, but it's a series that I rarely hear talked about then and now. In fact, I'm pretty positive that because of the late time slot it was featured in, a lot of people have probably never even heard of the show. It probably didn't help that the series was cancelled after just one season as well. So, with all of that said, I'm going to write about this series. Hopefully the people that are familiar with it will relive some memories, and those who aren't will become more familiar with this show.
'Mortal Kombat Conquest' began it's brief run on October 3, 1998. Set centuries before the present Mortal Kombat mythology, the show primarily revolves around the characters Kung Lao, Siro, and Taja. Kung Lao is the recent victor in the tournament titled Mortal Kombat. Kung Lao defeats Outworld sorcerer, Shang Tsung, and keeps the Earth from falling into the hands of Outworld's ruthless leader Shao Kahn.
Following his victory in Mortal Kombat along with protecting the Earth till the next tournament, Kung Lao now seeks to live a peaceful existence with his love Jen. However, Kung Lao's mentor Raiden, who is also the God of Thunder and Earth realm's protector, warns Kung Lao that Shao Kahn will not stop in his conquest for Earth.
The evil Shao Kahn frequently comes up with various schemes, and aligns himself with others to have Kung Lao killed. Kung Lao and his friends must also contend with the imprisoned Shang Tsung, who is making it his personal mission to get his revenge against Kung Lao following his humiliating defeat in the tournament. Now, Kung Lao, Siro, and Taja must fight for their own lives, and fight to protect the Earth realm in tournament called Mortal Kombat.
L-R: Siro, Taja, Raiden, Kung Lao.
As I stated earlier, many of the characters for this show were created for this show, and weren't in any way affiliated with the games or movies. Here is a list of the principal cast members for Mortal Kombat: Conquest.
- The Great Kung Lao: Kung Lao is the monk that defeated Shang Tsung in the last Mortal Kombat tournament. Kung Lao's victory secured the Earth realm from Shao Kahn and Outworld, but Kung Lao never feels totally at peace. His nightmares and visions of his future constantly haunt him, which leads to him frequently seeking out the guidance of Raiden. Kung Lao is viewed as Earth realm's greatest warrior. Kung Lao was portrayed by Paolo Montalban.
- Siro: Siro is a bodyguard that worked for Baron Reyland. Following the Baron's death, Siro agrees to stay at the trading post to help Kung Lao train fighters for the next Mortal Kombat tournament. Siro initially has a hard time buying in the authenticity of the Mortal Kombat tournament, but he proves to be a very capable fighter throughout the series. Siro was portrayed by Daniel Bernhardt.
- Taja: Taja is a thief, and a friend to both Kung Lao and Siro. Taja gets caught stealing from Baron Reyland, and is made to be his personal servant as punishment for her actions. Following the Baron's death, Taja agrees to stay at the trading post with Kung Lao and Siro. Like Siro, she has a hard time grasping how authentic Mortal Kombat is. Taja was portrayed by Kristanna Loken.
- Vorpax: Vorpax is woman trapped in the cobalt mines along with Shang Tsung. She often used her sexual appeal to seduce the sorcerer, but finds that he sees through her tactics. She often assisted Shang Tsung in his schemes to kill Kung Lao, and acted as a lookout when he unlawfully left the mines. Vorpax was portrayed by Tracy Douglas.
- Shang Tsung: Shang Tsung is a sorcerer, who was defeated by Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat. Following his defeat, Shang Tsung is sent to the cobalt mines by Shao Kahn as punishment for allowing the Earth slip away from Kahn. Throughout the series, Shang Tsung is hellbent on seeking revenge against Kung Lao. Shang Tsung was portrayed by Bruce Locke.
- Raiden: Raiden is the God of Thunder, and protector of the Earth realm. Because he is a god, Raiden cannot participate in Mortal Kombat, unless the rules are broken. He acts a mentor and father figure to Kung Lao. Raiden often gives Kung Lao, Siro, and Taja the heads up on whenever Shao Kahn is making a run at them. He often displays a dry sense of humor with the three, and doesn't come across like a god. Raiden was portrayed by Jeffrey Meek.
There were several recurring characters featured in 'Mortal Kombat: Conquest' that were key to the show's plot. Again, these characters were not affiliated with the Mortal Kombat games and movies.
- Baron Reyland: Baron Reyland was featured in several episodes. He was a trader that owned the trading post in the city of Zhuzin. He has a deep dislike for Kung Lao, mainly because Kung Lao is in love with his daughter Geneviere.
- Geneviere "Jen" Reyland: Jen is the daughter of Baron Reyland. She's in love with Kung Lao, and they plan on getting married despite her father rejecting their relationship.
- Omegis: Omegis initially is introduced an old hag, but she transformed herself into a beautiful woman that possessed various potions that could make people look younger. She wasn't on anyone's side in the fight for Earth, but she helped Kung Lao and his friends on several occasions. She also has a storied history with Shang Tsung.
- Kiri: Kiri is a seer that told fortunes. It was revealed later on in the series that she was a follower of Reptile and his people.
- Ankha: Ankha is a young woman that's associated with Kiri.
- Siann: Siann is one of Quan Chi's female servants and assassins. She is the most skilled fighter out of Quan Chi's female servants.
- Mika: Another one of Quan Chi's female servants and assassins.
- Sora: Another one of Quan Chi's female assassins.
- Kreeya: Kreeya's a conqueror of realms similar to Shao Khan. Kreeya initially presents herself as being friendly to Kung Lao and Earth realm, but her true intentions are revealed soon thereafter. It was also revealed that she is Vorpax's mother.
- Qali: A woman from Outworld, and a longtime friend of Kitana.
- Hanna: Siro's ex-girlfriend, who is now with his brother Cassar.
Mortal Kombat Game Characters Featured in 'Conquest'.
There can be no Mortal Kombat without some of the characters from the games being highlighted. This section will highlight the game characters featured in 'Mortal Kombat: Conquest.' It must noted that many of these characters origins are different compared to the games.
- Scorpion: Scorpion is a dead soul that was released by Shang Tsung to kill Kung Lao. The soul makes it's way into Kung Lao and Siro's friend Takeda. Takeda is overtaken, and Scorpion is born. Similar to the Mortal Kombat movie, Scorpion has a creature that comes out of his hand as a harpoon.
- Sub-Zero: Sub-Zero is a ninja in the Lin Kuei. He is able to created ice, and throw ice from his hands. Similar to the games, Sub-Zero and Scorpion briefly become rivals on Mortal Kombat: Conquest.
- Kitana: Kitana is the stepdaughter of Shao Khan. Kitana's parents were murdered by Shao Kahn when he conquered their realm called Edenia. She hates Shao Kahn, but follows his orders to stay alive. She develops a friendship with Kung Lao, Siro, and Taja, and secretly works with them in their battle against Outworld.
- Noob Saibot: Noob Saibot is a ninja from Outworld. He is mistakenly released by Siro and Taja, and then recruited by Kiri to kill Kung Lao. His body consisted of a thick black oil, and he wielded a eskrima stick as a weapon.
- Quan Chi: A powerful sorcerer from the Netherrealm, Quan Chi is aligned with no one. He first wanted to kill Kung Lao in order to have his soul to bid. He later aligned with Shang Tsung, but developed a hatred for Shang Tsung after being betrayed by him. He spends the rest of his time on the show seeking revenge against Shang Tsung.
- Mileena: A dangerous female ninja that is Kitana's opposite. Given a spell by Shao Kahn to look like Kitana, she was sent by Kahn to kill Kung Lao.
- Rain: Rain is a ninja that is an Edenian. He was once friends with Kitana, but chose to side with Shao Kahn in his mission to win the Earth realm. During the series, Rain is sent to by Shao Kahn to murder Kung Lao.
- Reiko: A general in Shao Kahn's army. He is extremely loyal to Kahn.
- Reptile: Reptile is the leader of the realm Zatara, and he is the leader of the 'Raptors'. Zatara is ruled by Shao Kahn, so Reptile reluctantly follows Kahn's orders.
- Goro: Goro is the four armed half-human, half-dragon member of the Shokan race. He is only seen briefly during the series watching over the cobalt mines.
- Smoke: Lin Kuei ninja that is created to hunt down Sub-Zero.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest Facts.
Here are some interesting facts about 'Mortal Kombat: Conquest' that most people probably don't know.
- Although the character Shao Kahn was a featured character on the show, he wasn't credited in the titles. Jeffrey Meek, who played the character of Raiden, also portrayed the character of Shao Kahn.
- Mortal Kombat: Conquest aired on TNT following then top rated wrestling program 'WCW Monday Nitro'. WCW wresters, Meng and Wrath appeared in two separate episodes in the series.
- Eva Mendes appeared in the episode 'Thicker Than Blood' as the character Hanna. Mendes would go on to become a highly successful actress and model.
- Out of the primary cast, Daniel Bernhardt, who played Siro, and Jeffrey Meek, who played Raiden/Shao Kahn were the only two martial artists on the show. Both Paolo Montalan(Kung Lao) and Kristanna Loken(Taja), required stunt doubles during most of their fight scenes.
- Chris Casamassa, who played Scorpion in Mortal Kombat: Conquest, also played Scorpion in the Mortal Kombat movie.
- Dana Hee, who portrayed Siann in the series, played the character Mileena in 'Mortal Kombat Annihilation'.
- Dana Hee is an accomplished stunt double, and has appeared as double in mainstream films like 'Spider-Man 2', 'Terminator: Rise of the Machines', 'Batman Forever'.
- J.J. Perry portrayed Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat: Conquest. Perry portrayed Scorpion in the film 'Mortal Kombat: Annihilation'.
- Like Dana Hee, J.J. Perry is an accomplished stuntman.
- Shots from the movies Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation' were used in 'Mortal Kombat: Conquest'.
WARNING: The next section will contain major plot spoilers, so read with caution if you've never seen this show, and you plan on watching it at some point.
Unfortunately for fans of 'Mortal Kombat: Conquest', the series was cancelled after only one season. The show's final episode was on May 22, 1999. The show ended on a stunning cliffhanger where Shao Kahn wins. Yes, the bad guy actually won. In the final episode titled 'Vengeance', Kahn sends his Shadow Priests to Earth, and they kill off all of the show's characters. As a then teenager and even now, the way this show ended was a total shocker to me.
It was revealed later why the show was cancelled. Despite the show's popularity, TNT didn't want to spend more money on the show. There was apparently a second season planned, but it never came to fruition. Apparently, the second season would have started with Raiden confiding in the Elders Gods for Shao Kahn's treachery. The Elder Gods would have then reversed Kahn's actions, and restored the characters that were killed. There are many stories as to what would have happened, but the fact remains that this show was done after one season.
There are mainly two reasons why I liked this series so much. One, I've been a huge Mortal Kombat fan since I received my first game. Two, this show had some great fight sequences. The acting on this show wasn't very good at all. The story line was okay in the first few episodes, and also in the later episodes towards the end. Some of the episodes in between were good, but there were others that felt more like filler episodes.
Despite some serious flaws, I think Mortal Kombat: Conquest was a legit show. I think it really appealed to the hardcore Mortal Kombat fans. I guess in the end, Mortal Kombat: Conquest is one of those shows that there will always be a lot of "what ifs".
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