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Movie Review

Mortal Kombat Review: Fatality Or Flawless Victory?

image from comingsoon.net

“Mortal Kombat” (2021) was the most faithful videogame-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen, but also one of the worst films I believe will come out this year. This article contains spoilers, and images of a graphic nature.

image from ign.com

As a child of the 1990’s, growing up on the old game systems of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and as a martial artist, I was naturally drawn to the “Mortal Kombat” franchise. 1995 brought us the first “Mortal Kombat” film. Christopher Lambert, most known of his “Highlander” fame, portrayed the lightning god “Raiden”. The film was campy, and a little ridiculous, but in the same spirit as other fighting game movies of the time period like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, and “3 Ninjas”.

Videogame movies were a new thing back then, and most relied on bringing in big name actors to try to sell people on the idea that a videogame could be adapted to the big screen. Dennis Hopper as “Bowser” in “Super Mario Bros.”(1993), and Jean-Claude Van Damme as “Guile” in “Street Fighter” (1994).

“Guile”(Jean-Claude Van Damme) fights “M.Bison”(Raul Julia) in “Street Fighter” (1994). Image from theirishsun.com

The problem is that Mortal Kombat (2021) is an adaptation of franchise nearly 30 years old. Videogame movies are not new at this point. The movie had some highlights, but ultimately was a fatality of a movie.

What this movie got right was the fight scenes. If we are being honest, that is the real reason any of us really watched it. It was a movie about fighters fighting other fighters. What I appreciate about this movie is that it had really talented martial artists in this film, particularly Hiroyuki Sanada as “Scorpion”.

Hiroyuki Sanada plays “Scorpion”. image from reddit.com

However the buildup and development of the most dangerous characters in the franchise, like “Scorpion”, “Sub-Zero”, and “Goro”, was left to your imagination because it simply didn’t exist. Don’t watch this movie expecting a heavy plot line, or gripping character arcs. Watch it expecting blood, extreme profanity, game-accurate fatalities, and outright brutal violence.

Not to mention the number of fighters that were introduced, that people unfamiliar with the later games would know. Characters like “Kabal”, “Mileena”, “Nitara”, and “Reiko” make an appearance as tournament fighters for Outworld, and nothing is really said about any of them.

“Mileena” played by Sisi Stringer, image from polygon.com

My opinion is that this is the most accurate videogame movie I have ever seen. “Mortal Kombat” is a game where characters use intense, violent, and brutal attacks on each other, but always seem to stand back up, and continue fighting like it was nothing.

“Kano”, played by Josh Lawson, gets a bowie knife thrown into his right thigh fairly early in the film. He then proceeds to stand up, and place his weight on the same leg, with the knife still in, removes the knife, and continues fighting as if it never happened.

Josh Lawson as “Kano”. image from looper.com

“Sonya Blade”, played by Jessica McNamee, gets stabbed in her left shoulder through, and through. Then proceeds to stand up and continue fighting, using the arm in questions as if the wound wasn’t there, including the fact it stopped bleeding immediately.

Now these would seem like trivial complaints to most people, but in my opinion these details captured the essence of the “Mortal Kombat” games.

screenshot from the game “MK11”, “Scorpion” vs. “Kung Lao”. image from wallpapercave.com

My biggest problem with the movie is what the plot was. Similar fashion to the movie from 1995, “Shang Tsung” has won nine straight “Mortal Kombat” tournaments in a row, and if the “Earthrelm” loses one more, then he can invade and enslave Earth.

However, “Shang Tsung” spends the entire film trying to prevent the next tournament from including Earth’s fighters, that he goes against tournament rules, and sends his warriors to kill the fighters before the tournament can begin. In trying to prevent the tournament, he ultimately causes the tournament, and is left with no real warriors at the end. The end of the film was anticlimactic at best.

“Goro” vs “Cole Young” in Mortal Kombat (2021). image from cbr.com

The end of the movie teased the entrance of one of the most arrogant, and frankly useless, characters in the franchise, Johnny Cage. The action movie star, and martial artist. Multiple sources including Screenrant, and Movieweb have reported that the writer has also said that there are plans for this to be a trilogy, but I won’t hold my breath for anything spectacular.

I would give the visuals a 9/10, the fight scenes a 10/10, but the overall film, including what story was there, would be a 4/10 overall.

What were your thoughts on the “Mortal Kombat” film? Are there any fighters you want to see added to the franchise? Comment down below and let us know what you want out of the next “Mortal Kombat” film.

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