Film, Miscellaneous

A Look Back at the Beat-Down Beats of Mortal Kombat: The Movie

August 18, 2015 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook A Look Back at the Beat-Down Beats of Mortal Kombat: The Movieon Twitter

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of film adaption of Mortal Kombat, which blew away screens on August 18th, 1995 and proved that game-based movies weren’t destined to be steaming piles of crap. (Its sequel, unfortunately, undid a lot of that progress but thankfully we’ve also seen other media depict MK favorably) It’s been two decades, and I still have a hard time thinking of any actor that could possibly portray the creepy badassedness of Shang Tsung more than Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, or a better fight scene in a game-based-movie than Johnny Cage vs. Scorpion.

In terms of the game itself, Mortal Kombat never had more than a handful of themes within the three titles it’d had by the point of the movie’s release that really stuck with me too much, other than tracks such as Mortal Kombat 2‘s “The Dead Pool” or Mortal Kombat 3‘s “The Pit”. The movie, on the other hand, sported an original soundtrack that really changed both how I felt about music in fighting games, and introduced me to some new genres of music I hadn’t explored before. It’s that music that I want to give props to after 20 years.

The movie itself had two separate albums attached to it. George S. Clinton composed the score for the entire movie, with some assistance from the instrumentalist Buckethead, which mimicked a lot of the subtle background themes the MK games sported. Mortal Kombat: The Motion Picture Score sported a lot of interesting composition, including the use of a Shakuhachi flute (a traditional Japanese bamboo flute) and heavy use of didgeridoos to play off both the oriental and mysterious themes present in the movie. The movie sports a lot of instances where characters are simply observing their environments or sizing up their opponents, and that’s when you can really hear the intricacies Clinton had sewn into the music.

Clinton also contributed the first track to the movie’s other album, Mortal Kombat: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. This was the album that provided a lot of the movie’s key battle music and was intended to get the viewer hyped about what was going on on the big screen. And damn if it didn’t work.

Honestly, who didn’t watch the movie opening for the first time and get considerably pumped? Not just with the fiery visuals, but with the blasting of music and the in-game sound effects woven into what would end up being an iconic theme for the franchise from then on. This is actually a snippet of one of the songs from the movie’s soundtrack, a truncated version of “The Immortals” by Techno-Syndrome. The full version features even more sound bites from the original Mortal Kombat game, complete with a rundown of the game’s fighters. This I come to realize and look back on as my first taste of high-energy industrial metal.

The soundtrack features a slew of heavy metal and industrial tracks from several artists of the time, including Type O Negative, Napalm Death and Sister Machine Gun. My favorite, arguably of the entire album, would have to be Fear Factory’s “Zero Signal”; the instrumental version of which plays during the Johnny Cage and Scorpion fight upon entering Scorpion’s realm, lending to my love of that scene in particular. The morbid atmosphere coupled with the dark energy of the music just makes everything come together perfectly.

“Zero Signal” – Fear Factory
There’s just something about the hybridization of heavy metal and electronic/trance that fits in nicely with a movie where the best parts feature carefully choreographed asskicking. This is especially true of another favorite of mine off the album, the instrumental version of Traci Lords’ “Control” by Juno Reactor, featured during the Lui Kang vs. Reptile fight. The battle plays out as if in time with the music and gets the viewer nearly as energized as the fighters on-screen.

“Control” – Traci Lords (Juno Reactor Instrumental)
The movie, in my opinion, was made all the better with such a fast-paced and intense soundtrack backing it and I regularly found myself playing it on repeat for several of my teenage years, nearly wearing the CD out. If the atrocious Mortal Kombat: Annihilation had any good qualities to it, it’s that it at least inherited the original movie’s killer music. I salute both this movie and George S. Clinton for providing me with fond memories of brutal beat-downs and snarky Cage one-liners complimented with fantastic music.

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