Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Mortal Kombat the Movie Theme Song

It has begun! Yes, a brand new Midweek Music Box has arrived here on your virtual doorstep. Okay, so most game movies are somewhere between terrible or terrifically (and unintendedly) funny. They're either unbridled cheese-fests that are laughably bad, or so disconnected from the source material (lookin' at you Super Mario Bros Movie) that aside from a few perfunctory nods to game, that you would never know the movie was based on a game---

Except for, I would argue, the first Mortal Kombat movie. No, it does not have a hard "R" rating like you would expect the movie to have if it were true to the source material. However, let's keep in mind that the game itself was largely played by teenage boys, so a hard R would have any money making potential of the film.  I love the film for two reasons. First, it keeps to the basics within a PG -13 setting. The plot is thin and the characters two-dimensional, but really, do we need the exciting back story of each person? No! Just a quick intro for the key players, off to the island, and let's start some fights to the death to save humanity! Who needs plot when a kick to the face will do? Oh, and the other reason the movie is awesome? The intro music!  So let's talk real quick about music from the intro of the film:

Mortal Kombat (Techno-Syndrome 7"):

"Mortal Kombat Movie Intro"

Okay, so most of us (or rather, those of us familiar with the movie) have this intro burned into our minds like Scorpion finishes off his enemies. It plays for less than a minute, but is as iconic as this moment:

Image result for it has begun mortal kombat

However, it'd be a disservice to The Immortals, the German techno band responsible for the music, to not only not mention them by name, but to not link to the full cut of the song so here's that:

Great, ain't it? Not sure whether this or Daft Punk came first for me when I was introduced to electronic/techno music, but it was definitely one of the "gateway" songs. Its driving beat felt like an actual composed piece of music rather than empty droning. That synthesized gong hit at the beginning, leading into an electronic keyboard intro had me hooked--but then somebody screams "Mortal Kombat" and you know the song has entered into awesomeness. It has all the right elements going for it, and that's just the intro. It not only gets you into the movie, but it gets you amped to play the game. I like the game sampled audio of the characters' names being announced as it doesn't get in the way of the rhythm in the jarring way many electronic/techno songs can go. Don't care if it sounds weird to say it, but it actually sounds like a musical composition, not just "techno music."

I hope that this doesn't come across sounding like a slam, because I love techno...when it's done right. So much techno was flying about at the time of the movie. It was the hot new thing and raves were starting to happen and...well, much of the music that was meant to get your glow-stick groove on was only functional, not listenable. Maybe I sound like a snob here, but I wonder if half the techno tunes listened to back in the early to mid-90s get a listen to today and how many albums are now floating around various garages and thrift stores across the world.

Always on the hunt for retro games, I, like everyone else, do a quick search in the CD section in case a random Dreamcast or PlayStation game should happen to show up. (Sometimes I even pick up an album or two that's fallen out of popularity). Among the countless country western and Christmas CDs I don't recall once coming across the soundtrack for the movie, and I would be willing to bet that most people held on to it just for this song alone. Not all of the songs from the movie soundtrack or The Immortals inspired album hold up as well as they did in the day (and perhaps I'll cover the tribute album in full in the future). Speaking for myself though, I'll happily pop in the original movie soundtrack just to give the title track a listen because it takes me back not just to the movies, but to a time when Mortal Kombat was an arcade staple and both the game, and this song, was a must play.

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