Tony and Daniel: Popping Culture 2 (Mortal Kombat)

This week, Tony and Daniel express their love for pop culture through spine ripping. FINISH HIM.

Mortal Kombat 2 wallpaper.

Daniel: What would be your Fatality?

Tony: I’d strap any of the well known Mortal Kombat characters down to a chair, Clockwork Orange style, prying their eyeballs open and whatnot, and then force them to watch Mortal Kombat: Annihilation over and over again until their brains ran down from their nostrils like so much boogery ramen broth.

Have you ever seen the SNES and Genesis Mortal Kombat II TV commercial before? 

How much better does this look than either of the actual Mortal Kombat movies?

Daniel:  At a certain point in every man’s life, he has to decide whether something is awesome or not. That commercial makes this decision extremely easy for me. If people dressed in fantastic ninja outfits, throwing kicks at nothing and settling grudges against bamboo isn’t cool as hell, then I am truly a poor judge of everything.

What is one move that you consistently spam?


Tony: Baraka’s crouching blade move from Mortal Kombat II. No matter what anyone ever did to me if they came toward me, I would instantly crouch down and “snikt” out my arm blades and just shred and flail like a psychotic cat batting at a shadow.

Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat, there can only be one, which do you pick? Gameplay, overall universe and mythos, dated but retro-cool hairstyles, pick your own deciding factors, which game is the best?

Daniel: Street Fighter II is going to age better in the long run, but I pick Mortal Kombat. When I was growing up, the Street Fighter series always seemed like an enigma to me, as if it was barring me from having fun. The characters weren’t really cool looking, besides Dhalsim, and Mortal Kombat was something that I, as an uncoordinated, not very good at anything, young kid, could pick up, smash buttons at, and possibly win. Mortal Kombat 4 lyfe.

Favorite line from the Mortal Kombat/Mortal Kombat: Annihilation films?

Tony: “Mother, you’re alive.” “Too bad you will die.” from Annihilation. Sorry, I know it’s well documented and a meme now but seriously, such a great line. It made me want to become a writer.

Favorite “what the hell is that?” thing in the background of a level?

Daniel: The living forest in Mortal Kombat II. Close, bloodthirsty relatives to that talking tree in Pocahontas.

Scorpion, Sub Zero, Reptile = Fuck, Marry, Kill

Tony: Let’s see, I’d fuck Sub Zero. Mostly to see him freeze my skeet, (highbrow, I know) and mostly because I’m pretty sure I’d just want to see that once.

I’d marry Scorpion because I’d never get tired of hearing him shout, “Get over here!” then spearing me and dragging me close so that we can snuggle. It’d be like something out of a storybook.

I’d kill Reptile, why? Because he’s a spitter and no one likes a spitter. If you want me to follow you’d better swallow.

Have you ever in your day to day life outside of Mortal Kombat ever said “Toasty!’ in a high falsetto after uppercutting someone?

Daniel: Never. I know it’s a pretty mainstream thing to say, but remember in the first MK movie, right as Liu Kang throws lizard-form Reptile in the chest of that rock ogre, right before they meld and become ninja Reptile? The voiceover guy says, like in the video game, “REPTILE”, as if to tell the audience “THIS IS WHO THAT IS.” I say that to myself all the time. “REPTILE.” Try it out, especially if you’re just getting out of bed. It’s a great motivator. REPTILE.


Worst Mortal Kombat character?

Tony: Probably Stryker, especially the way he appeared when he debuted in MK3. He just had that white boy, urban/hip-hop wannabe air about him. He looked like the token white guy in MC Hammer’s dance crew. He looked like some dork who lives at home still who asked his mom to dress him up “rap” so he can go down to the local roller rink and look hard.

Most disappointing thing ever released within the Mortal Kombat brand?

Daniel:  That new YouTube Mortal Kombat series is pretty lame, especially after the ridiculously cool trailer was made. It looks like the 90’s films, but the series is no fun at all. They’re trying to play it straight, as if it’s not ACTUALLY a series about a ninja that shoots ice. You have to have goofy fun with it, or it needs to be just an ultra-violent tournament movie.

Character that improved the most, design wise, from earlier games onward?

Tony: This one’s a toughie for me because I genuinely and generally prefer the older Kombat games and their dated, clunkier graphics. And that includes the outfits and looks of most of the characters. I was online looking at pictures of all the characters and I gotta say in almost every case I think the designs suffer from each new incarnation.

If pressed, I’d say Sonya Blade. Sure, she’s still dressed like a stripper for hand to hand combat which is just ludicrous, but at least she got past her yoga mom on a military base leg warmer origins. She used to look like a cross between Olivia Newton John circa “Let’s Get Physical” and Patty Hearst circa when she had a machine gun and got interesting.

You have to form a music group with four characters from Mortal Kombat, what’s the band called? Who plays what? And what kind of music is it?

Daniel:  Um, Tony, I don’t need to imagine it. This came with the Deadly Alliance game and it’s the worst thing ever designed for the human ear.

But really, a hip hop group called Outworld. Reptile and Smoke are the hype guys, while Cyrax and Kung Lao spit the fire.

For me, Mortal Kombat represents the outlandish early 90s better than any other game. It was pre-Columbine, with outlandish gore that lacked any sort of emotional resonance or thematic presence. It joins things like Doom as being pure popcorn entertainment in video game form. What does it represent for you?

Tony: To me Mortal Kombat really seems to stand out as one of the last games where it felt like I as a gamer had some sort of relationship or feeling of being in on something with the creative team behind it. Granted I don’t really play many videogames anymore so maybe I’m just not aware of this sort of back and forth between the audience and the creators still existing in modern games. But I felt with all the little in-jokes like “Toasty” or naming the character of Noob Saibot after the two creators’ names backwards it really felt like a cool club mentality, and I mean that in the best way.

I felt like the guys who made those games had watched all the same kung fu movies I had and probably a few more and that they had seen Big Trouble In Little China and they processed all of this and it came out into the game they would want to play as gamers. And of course it registered with me and a bunch of other kids too. I think about it now and it might be, sadly, the closest I get to punk rock or the first decade of hip-hop as far as me being in on the ground floor of a big cultural movement before it goes mainstream. The only thing else I have in my life to compare to it is certain comic books I got into before they or their creators got big. Mortal Kombat, to me, came out right before games started taking themselves, at least at times, maybe way too seriously.

Sure, Mortal Kombat had tons of crazy convoluted characters and backstory and all that but it also had fun with it, and made fun of itself. With babalities and its creators’ images being the dead guys suspended on hooks or floating in some marsh in the background. Mortal Kombat was sort of the height of irreverent and irresponsible games until GTA III came around. And despite this irreverence, the early Mortal Kombat games can still come off as charmingly cute and childish when you look at them now. And that’s hard to do when you see one character pull the spinal column out of another.

What’s your favorite installment of the whole series?

Daniel: Ultimate Mortal Kombat for the DS. I’m not kidding. That game is the most frustrating of the entire series. I once rode a bus for 12 hours from North Carolina to NYC and I played that game the whole way there, charging it up in a bus station in Richmond, Virginia because I was at a point of anger with that game that I couldn’t not beat it.

Fucking Shao Kahn is the greatest final boss in history, because you’d do a better job of hitting him if you just punched the DS itself. MVP goes to Motaro, the boss right before him, who you can only beat if the game decides to glitch out and push the centaur, motionless, against one of the walls. I really love that game, honestly.

Favorite Mortal Kombat stage theme?

Tony: Mortal Kombat II’s Living Forest theme. So fucking creepy. Weird flutes and tumbling percussion it sounds like Jethro Tull Halloween music or maybe somebody had to Zamfir score an Edgar Alan Poe story. Love it.

Which character was your favorite and why?

Daniel: Kano. Until the first movie came out, it had been Reptile, but when Trevor Goddard (RIP) gave that Oscar worthy performance “‘Ello baybee? Did yah’ miss mey?” in the first film, I switched sides. I rep the Black Dragon clan.


What is the epitome of “that one move that accidentally happens and you spend the rest of your life trying to pull it off again” for you, besides Fatalities?

Tony: Anytime I achieve a combo, it is always by mistake and I never figure out how I accidently did it ever again. I have never been a graceful player, I win instead through a combination of dumb luck, spamming and blatant cheating. I will lean over and put my tongue in your ear to distract you so I can uppercut you. In real life as well as the world of Mortal Kombat. Ruthless.

Which two Mortal Kombat characters would be the most disturbing to walk in on having sex together? And how do you envision this playing out exactly?

Daniel: It had been a rough day for Daniel. The office had been busy, dealing with a plethora of new shipments that had to be organized, and all of a sudden, nearly every other person in his department had taken their sick days. No problem, though. Daniel needed to make good with his boss, especially after the “Daniel doesn’t know how to work the new coffee maker/Daniel breaks the coffee maker” incident.

As Daniel went to put the key in his apartment door, he heard a strange sound from inside. There was muffled voices and heavy breathing. He pressed his ear to the door. He couldn’t hear any better but from the close proximity, he got the faintest whiff of a brimstone smell. What was that?

He walked inside and was immediately nearly overtaken by the flames. Through them he saw, faintly, Sonya Blade on the couch, her face a mask of ecstacy. He then heard “GET OVER HERE” and he turned sharply to see Scorpion on the other side of the room, his palm pointed towards Sonya, the weapon inside his hand aimed towards her…Oh god. Daniel felt himself become sick. He fainted.

From another room, Shang Tsung smiled. Everything was going according to plan.

America elects a dog as President. Who is President Woof’s favorite MK character?

Tony: I think President Woof would be feeling Motaro, the centaur guy from MK3, don’t you think? I just feel there would be some sort of quadruped solidarity there. Toasty!


I think most people who grew up as gamers have a slew of memories which revolve around playing Mortal Kombat, what’s one of yours that stands out?

Daniel:  They’re not classic games in the series, but I loved playing Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance/Deception with my brother and sister. There’s no better way to bond with family members than by trying to kick each other’s asses with netherrealm freaks.

For Tony and Daniel discussing John Carpenter, go here.

Daniel Dockery is a writer who lives in Asheville, NC. You’re currently reading his blog. He’s also writing a book. Study while you can. He’s all the hope there is.

Tony McMillen is a writer and novelist living in Boston. You can find his pop culture musings, usually full of vitriol and whimsy, at where he writes the column “Touch The Wonder”. You can also find more of his stuff at sites like ManArchy and Hecklerspray. If you wanna party with Tony, find him on Facebook. If you are David Lee Roth time displaced from 1984, don’t worry, he’ll find you

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