Back in 1995, for whatever reason, I never saw the Mortal Kombat movie. I loved the video game, had the GI Joe licensed action figures, and would play Mortal Kombat with my friend in the pool, jumping off diving boards pretending to be Scorpion and Sub Zero doing their famous moves. But I never saw the live action movie that spawned one of the greatest film soundtracks and rave songs of all time.
Since then there have been several other Mortal Kombat live action and cartoon movies, and even a reboot web series in 2008, but now in 2021, we get another reboot, this time much closer to the game’s mythos.
The film starts off with Scorpion, known as Hanzo Hatori and his wife and children in 1680’s feudal Japan. Sub-Zero hunts his family down and murders them in cold blood, and then proceeds to fight him to the death. It is a fantastic intro that starts the movie off on a real cinematic beginning.
Then we flash forward to modern times and start following the real main protagonist and new character of the movie, Cole, who is a losing fighter in the local fighting scene. His wife and daughter and him get ambushed by Sub-Zero who is hunting down the chosen warriors of EarthRealm and Jax comes along to save them. He tells them to go find Sonya Blade while he holds off Sub Zero.
Sonya helps Cole and along with Kano, they get into a fight with Reptile and then must go find Raiden’s temple. Once they find Raiden, he tells them that they are EarthRelms chosen warriors to defend EarthRealm from being taken over in the next Mortal Kombat tournament.
That’s where I’ll leave the recap, as I honestly think the movie is well worth watching. I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, especially as it seemed to come out of nowhere, without any major information on it till a few weeks before release. Also with watching some recaps on the original two movies, I didn’t have high hopes. Luckily I was more than blown away with how much care was given to this new version of a long lasting game franchise.
Everything you want and expect from a Mortal Kombat movie is jammed into this one. Lots of blood and gore, violence and swearing. Maybe a bit too much at times, and a few forced lines as well, but nothing really awful.
The characters were spot on representations of the game, and even Reptile got his more animalistic lizard like design.
If the thought of Mortal Kombat’s fatalities make your skin crawl, the movie has a few of them littered throughout, and there might be a better way to spend your time. But, for those who love the idea of watching cool looking characters battle it out into a fight to the death, this movie delivers everything it promises. It’s also probably the best video game movie made to date, and while that bar is extremely low, the new Mortal Kombat uses the lore to its full advantage, and everyone seems to be having a great time. No one acts like they are above making a movie that seems so fantastical and unbelievable.
The only real criticism I had was with Kano, and his unending one-liners that feels like he was ripped out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I did get a genuine gut-laugh when Sonya replies to him after he starts jabbering off for the billionth time “Do you ever shut up?!”. The movie is very self aware, and referential without ever feeling overbearing and like it’s trying to impress us with it’s knowledge that it’s a Mortal Kombat movie. A couple of the game quotes, like “Flawless Victory” seem forced and nothing that any real person would ever say to themselves after nearly escaping a death tournament, but like I said, it’s a fantasy movie and I can usually overlook a couple instances of them.
With featuring nearly every major character in the games, there still is a bit of wiggle room left for including more in the sequel. Smoke, Rain, even Johnny Cage is nowhere to be found (except a small wink and nod for Cage at the end). I’ll be curious how they approach the sequel, as they didn’t even actually feature a tournament, which is the main plot of the games, and even the movie.