If you don’t mind over-theatrical performances, tired dialogue, bad costume design and some competent martial arts scenes, you’ll moderately enjoy Dark Shadow.
Long before Kevin Tancharoen used YouTube as a platform to show his unofficial adaptation of Mortal Kombat, there was Mortal Kombat: Conquest (known in other territories as Mortal Kombat: Konquest, The Series or Krusades,) a television series that tried to bring the Mortal Kombat franchise to the small screen. Like the first Mortal Kombat movie, Conquest is an exaggerated and overly sentimental series that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so if you don’t mind over-theatrical performances, tired dialogue, bad costume design and some competent martial arts scenes, you’ll moderately enjoy Dark Shadow.
Before moving on, it’s worth mentioning that Dark Shadow is a combination of some Mortal Kombat: Conquest episodes and the disc came out in some European countries in DVD form. Inevitably, Dark Shadow feels woefully incomplete, since it doesn’t provide context for the events that are taking place and it ends in a cliffhanger. So I feel like a summary is in place: Shaolin monk Kung Lao has won the Mortal Kombat tournament and defeated evil sorcerer Shang Tsung saving Earthrealm. But the conflict between the two kingdoms is far from over, since the next tournament is taking place soon and Kung Lao needs to train the next generation of warriors. But emperor of the Outworld Shao Kang uses every dirty trick from prevent the tournament from happening, so he sends Kitana’s twin sister Mileena has to murder Kung Lao. Luckily, the warriors of Earthrealm recruit another fighter who wants to train with them and participate in the next Mortal Kombat, but this created a conflict with Siro who isn’t too fond of this new warrior.
The story’s not that important and it feels like an excuse to see some fights between recognizable characters from the Mortal Kombat franchise as well as some new ones. There’s plenty of that and the fights look pretty good, but take into account that Dark Shadow is a bunch of episodes ripped from Conquest, so some matches never take place and some of the most important characters never show up in this movie. But I must admit that I liked the a combination of classic characters and new ones, which include Raiden, Kung Lao, Tomas, Sub-Zero, Reptile, Ciro, Kitana, Mileena, Siro and Taja, among others. Unfortunately, there’s a cliffhanger at the end, so don’t expect the story to really solve anything and that’s its most serious problem, Dark Shadows simply feels incomplete.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest is a prequel to the movies and like them, they share some of its qualities, such as poor production values, techno music, love triangles, laughable special effects, terrible looking costumes and amateur performances. Bear in mind that this is a ridiculous, plain stupid, corny and obscure B-movie based on the Mortal Kombat franchise. So if you do decide to watch it, keep your expectations in check and be willing to not take anything that happens in it seriously.
But I must admit that even if it is predictable and hackneyed, Dark Shadow works. Don’t expect an extraordinary adaptation, but if you’re into B-movies, you owe it to yourself to check out this obscure part of the Mortal Kombat universe.