The film begins in media res, when the evil emperor Shao Kahn opens a portal from Outworld to the Earthrealm and has reclaimed his queen Sindel, who is Kitana's long-dead mother. Earthrealm is therefore in danger of being absorbed into Outworld within six days, a fate which Liu Kang and the others must fight to prevent. Kahn fights and quickly kills Johnny Cage during the confrontation by snapping his neck, and the remaining Earthrealm warriors must regroup and find a way to defeat Shao Kahn.
An emotionally guilt-ridden Sonya Blade enlists the help of her old partner, Jax. Together they destroy Cyrax, and Sonya beats Mileena. Kitana and Liu Kang search for a Native American shaman named Nightwolf, who seemingly knows the key to defeating Kahn. Kitana and Liu Kang destroy Smoke with the aid of Sub-Zero, but Scorpion suddenly appears, attacks Sub-Zero, and kidnaps Kitana.
Meanwhile, Raiden meets with the Elder Gods and asks them why Kahn was allowed to break the tournament rules and force his way into Earthrealm, and how he can be stopped. The answers he receives are sparse and ambiguous; one says that reuniting Kitana with her mother, Sindel, is the key to breaking Kahn's hold on Earthrealm, but another Elder God insists that the defeat of Kahn himself is the solution. Raiden is then asked by the Elder Gods about his feelings and obligations towards the mortals, and what he would be willing to do to ensure their survival.
Liu Kang finds Nightwolf, who teaches him about the power of the Animality, a form of shapeshifting which utilizes the caster's strengths and abilities. To achieve the mindset needed to acquire this power, Liu Kang must pass his tests. The first is a trial of his self-esteem and focus. The second comes in the form of temptation, which manifests itself in the form of Jade, who attempts to seduce Liu Kang and offers her assistance after he resists her advances. Liu Kang accepts Jade's offer and takes her with him to the Elder Gods' temple, where he and his friends are to meet Raiden. The third test is never revealed. (Though it may be hinted that it is about trust)
At the temple, the Earthrealm warriors reunite with a newly shorn Raiden, who explains that he has sacrificed his immortality to freely fight alongside them. Together, they head for Outworld to rescue Kitana and reunite her with Sindel. With Jade's help, Liu Kang rescues Kitana, while the others find Sindel. But Sindel remains under Kahn's control and escapes during an ambush, while Jade reveals herself to be a double agent sent by Kahn to disrupt the heroes' plans. Raiden then reveals that Shao Kahn is his brother, and that Elder God Shinnok is their father. He realizes that Shinnok had lied to him and is supporting Kahn. With renewed purpose, Raiden and the Earthrealm warriors make their way to the final showdown with Kahn and his generals. Shinnok demands that Raiden submit to him and restore their broken family, at the expense of his mortal friends. Raiden refuses and is killed by an energy blast from Shao Kahn.
After a hard fight, Jax, Sonya, and Kitana emerge victorious against their opponents (Motaro, Ermac and Sindel respectively), but Liu Kang struggles with Kahn, and his Animality barely proves effective, exposing a cut to Kahn that proves he is now mortal. Shinnok, who explains that these are the consequences for breaking the sacred rules, attempts to intervene and kill Liu Kang on Kahn's behalf, but two of the Elder Gods arrive, having uncovered Shinnok's treachery. They declare that the fate of Earth shall be decided in Mortal Kombat. Liu Kang finally defeats Kahn, and Shinnok is banished to the Netherrealm. Earthrealm reverts to its former state, and with Kahn's hold over Sindel finally broken, she reunites with Kitana. Raiden is revived by the other Elder Gods, who bestow upon him his father's former position. With everything right in the universe once again, the Earthrealm warriors return home.Robin Shou as Liu Kang
Talisa Soto as Kitana
Brian Thompson as Shao Kahn
Sandra Hess as Sonya Blade
Musetta Vander as Sindel
Irina Pantaeva as Jade
James Remar as Raiden
Lynn "Red" Williams as Jax Briggs
Chris Conrad as Johnny Cage
Keith Cooke as Sub-Zero
Reiner Schöne as Shinnok
Litefoot as Nightwolf
Marjean Holden as Sheeva
Deron McBee as Motaro
John Medlen as Ermac
Tyrone Cortez Wiggins as Rain
Dana Hee as Mileena
Ridley Tsui as Smoke
J.J. Perry as Scorpion / Cyrax and Noob Saibot
Dennis Kieffer as Baraka
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is loosely based on the 1995 video game Mortal Kombat 3. There were also plot elements from Mortal Kombat 4, but these scenes were cut from the final theatrical version. While the original attracted casual moviegoers as well as gamers, Annihilation catered exclusively to the games' fans.
Part of the movie was filmed on location at Parys Mountain on the island of Anglesey. The scenes involving the Temple of The Elder Gods were filmed on location at Petra, a large temple and basin located in Jordan. In the closing credits, Wales, where several scenes were filmed, is incorrectly listed as being part of England. Though Annihilation attempted to continue in the style of the first movie, the cast of returning characters from the original was almost completely overhauled; only Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and Talisa Soto (Kitana) reprised their roles, while the only other actor to return was Keith Cooke (Reptile in the first film) as Sub-Zero.
The French release of the movie was known as Mortal Kombat: Destruction Finale (Final Destruction), while the Italian release was titled Mortal Kombat: Distruzione Totale (Total Destruction). The film's novelization by Jerome Preisler was published through Tor Books.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was released on November 21, 1997, and its opening weekend take was $16 million, enough for a number-one debut at the box office. It grossed $35 million domestically and made over $51 million worldwide.
Annihilation received a 3% approval rating out of 38 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The website's consensus states, "with its shallow characters, low budget special effects, and mindless fight scenes, Mortal Kombat - Annihilation offers minimal plot development and manages to underachieve the low bar set by its predecessor." The film received an 11 out of 100 rating on Metacritic based on twelve reviews.
Jason Gibner of Allmovie wrote, "Whereas the first film was a guilty schlock pleasure, this sequel is an exercise in the art of genuinely beautiful trash cinema." Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle opined that it was "nothing more than a perpetual chain of elaborately choreographed fight sequences that...are linked together by the most flimsy and laughable of plot elements." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "D–" rating, calling it "abysmal" and "incoherent."
According to a retrospective review by R.L Shaffer of IGN in 2013, "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a bad movie. No way around it. Over the years, however, it has evolved into a cult hit of sorts, playing as an unintentional comedy – a spoof of the early video game movies and their painfully obvious cash-in mentality." In a 2012 interview with Complex, Mortal Kombat games' co-creator Ed Boon chose Annihilation as the "worst moment" in the history of the franchise.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is the soundtrack to the film. The Mortal Kombat theme was composed by Praga Khan and Oliver Adams. The soundtrack was released on October 28, 1997 by TVT Records.
Threshold Entertainment's production on a second sequel was initially scheduled to commence shortly after the release of Annihilation, but it was shelved due to Annihilation's poor reception and disappointing box-office performance. It consequently never got off the ground as it remained stuck in preproduction for over ten years, with numerous script rewrites and story changes, along with the 2005 destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, which greatly affected one of the planned shooting locations.
In June 2009, a bankruptcy court lawsuit saw Lawrence Kasanoff suing Midway while mentioning that a third film was in the works. Warner Bros. (which became the parent of New Line Cinema in 2008, after over a decade of both operating as separate divisions of Time Warner) ended up purchasing most of Midway's assets, including Mortal Kombat, the next month. In July 2009, actors Chris Casamassa (Scorpion) and Linden Ashby (Johnny Cage) separately announced that they would be reprising their respective roles from the original film, with Casamassa additionally claiming that filming would begin in September of that year, but the project still did not commence production, and aside from a poll that asked fans to vote on which major character they believed would die in the third movie, no official information on the project ever existed on the Mortal Kombat website hosted by Threshold, which itself permanently ceased updates in late 2004.
In September 2011, it was reported that New Line Cinema (Mortal Kombat film rights holders), sister studio to Warner Bros. (current MK franchise holders), had hired Kevin Tancharoen to direct a new feature-length movie based on the franchise. Oren Uziel, who wrote the original short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, but was not involved in Mortal Kombat: Legacy, was said to return to pen the story, while no actors, nor other crew, were confirmed. Reports stated that the film would not be an extension of the game, nor of Legacy.
New Line President Toby Emmerich said that the success of the video games combined with Tancharoen's vision means, "You don't have to squint too hard to see how it might make a good movie", while Tancharoen says discussions have only concerned an R-rating, with darker, brutally real martial arts. Tancharoen had discussions at the 2011 Comic Con with Uziel and Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon, saying that it will be a very big origin story with the sensibility and realism of Rebirth and Legacy as opposed to the traditional Mortal Kombat mythology. He said, "I've always been a fan of properties like Batman where you can expand the universe in different directions. Mortal Kombat is big enough that you can allow for multiple different kinds of storytelling."
But as for its continuity with the web series, Tancharoen said "you won't have to have seen all ten episodes previously - or have played the videogame - to understand the movie." Shooting was expected to begin in March 2012 with a budget of well under $100 million and a release date of 2013, coordinated with the next installment of the video game series being produced by the same studios. It was later delayed due to budget constraints. The director started working on the second season of Legacy until problems with the movie had been sorted out. In late 2012, Warner Bros executive Lance Sloan revealed that the Mortal Kombat movie would have a budget of between $40–50 million.
In October 2013, Tancharoen announced that he would not direct the film. In August 2015, it was reported that James Wan had signed on to produce. In August 2016, Wan told IGN that he's confirmed as the producer of the film and won't rush the film but want it heading in the right direction. On November 18, 2016, Variety reports that Simon McQuoid is in talks to direct the reboot.