Get over here.
Mortal Kombat is a 2021 fantasy-action film directed by Simon McQuoid in his film debut, written by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham, produced by New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster Productions, and Broken Road Productions, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based on the long-running Mortal Kombat video games. It stars Lewis Tan and Jessica McNamee. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards. While it is a reboot of the Mortal Kombat film series, it is technically the third film in the franchise. It was preceded by Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. A sequel has been confirmed.
"Remember this face." -Scorpion
With the Earthrealm in grave danger, MMA fighter Cole Young is selected to join a group of fighters and participate in an ancient tournament known as Mortal Kombat. Trained by Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Lord Raiden, Cole joins forces with Sonya Blade and Jax Briggs to take down the evil soul-sucking sorcerer, Shang Tsung and his army of kombatants.
POSITIVE ASPECTS: Action / Fans of the Games / Scorpion and Sub-Zero / Moments of Payoff / Characters
NEGATIVE ASPECTS: Plot / Tournament (Minor Spoilers!) / Aging Well and Sequel Expectations / Shoving Characters Into the Film / Dialogue / Pacing
Easily the best thing about this movie is the action. The fight scenes are visceral and sharp. The choreography is actually insane. Some of these fights are so fast, they look like they are filmed in time-lapse. The stunts are amazing, but the most enjoyable thing about these fight scenes (at least for me) were the fatalities. The blood, guts, brains, and nasty kills are absolutely fabulous. For some people, it would be nauseating and they will hate it. But if you squirm at blood, this is not the movie for you.
This film is definitely made for fans of the video games, which I am not. I've played Mortal Kombat a few times, so I know the characters, but if you don't know the characters, you probably won't like the movie. I know some of the moves and some of the catchphrases, so it was fun to hear and see characters do what they are known for in the game.
I really thought that the strongest part of the movie was the rivalry between Scorpion and Sub-Zero. I won't get into specifics, but they give this rivalry a lot of subtle attention, which I found smart. And I'm shocked to say that, because I didn't expect to call a movie like Mortal Kombat smart.
There are some nice moments of payoff throughout the film. I really liked that he characters all had to uncover their powers from within. It added a nice touch to the film and gave the characters an objective to complete.
Even though these characters are relatively simple, most of them are memorable. They all have different character traits that make them stand out. Sub-Zero was my favorite, but Liu Kang was cool. I liked Jax, Kano, Raiden, Kung Lao, and Cole equally. The writers and director stayed true to the spirit of the game and made each of these characters very fun to watch.
Let me tell you something that Mortal Kombat is not: quality cinema.
Similarly to Godzilla vs. Kong, this film has high entertainment value and very low quality. It's like cinematic fast food. Not quality, but very tasty.
The plot is incredibly simple: The Outworld (bad guys) have won nine out of ten tournaments and will take over Earth if they win the next Mortal Kombat. Raiden assembles a team of champions to stop them. The team trains for a while and prepares to defeat the members of the Outworld in the most important Mortal Kombat tournament yet.
MINOR SPOILER WARNING!
However, that tournament never comes. Instead, they spend pretty much the entire film training and coming up with plans to defeat the Outworld. There is still tons of fighting and great action scenes, but the film is called Mortal Kombat. And there is no Mortal Kombat in this movie. There is preparation for Mortal Kombat, but we never see the fabled tournament itself.
And this leads into my next point: this movie will age horribly if there is no sequel. This film is very clearly made to have a subsequent movie, and I do not think it will work as a standalone movie. There are a lot of questions that are left unanswered and a lot of things that need to be fixed in Mortal Kombat 2 if it happens. But movies cannot rely on sequels to save them. This movie needs to be able to stand on its own as a solid fantasy-action film...which I don't think it will.
The goal of this movie seems to be to squeeze as many characters and as much action into the film as possible. The script shoves a lot of characters into this film. Obviously, the Mortal Kombat video games have a huge roster, so they can pick and choose from some of their most popular characters while still having tons left. However, you feel the claustrophobia that comes from forcing all of these characters in. And that is not a good thing.
Finally, the dialogue in this film can be very, very cringy at times. Especially the writing for Sonya, Jax, and Cole. The three American humans say some very epic, generic lines that everyone has heard a hundred times. "You got the wrong guy, alright? I'm just an ordinary fighter." or "I'm willing to die for my family.".
Also, this film does have some trouble as far as pacing is concerned. It starts off with a boatload of action, which stays consistent for about thirty minutes. Then they go to start training with Liu Kang, and it slows down for another thirty minutes. There is a lot more dialogue in this section broken up with very little action. The final hour or so is, once again, a ton of action. But the action should've been scattered amongst the film. That middle act can start to drag a little bit when nothing that important happens.
To be honest, I have no idea what to give Mortal Kombat. It's a B movie with spectacular action, terrible dialogue, and pretty much no story. I gave Godzilla vs. Kong a positive rating, so I guess I'll go the same way here.
Mortal Kombat gets a Savory rating. Age range is 14+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Simon McQuoid
Rated R for strong bloody violence and action, language, scary images
Released on April 23, 2021
1 hour and 50 minutes
Lewis Tan as Cole Young
Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade
Ludi Lin as Liu Kang
Josh Lawson as Kano
Mehcad Brooks as Jax Briggs
Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden
Joe Taslim as Bi-Han/Sub-Zero
Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion
Chin Han as Shang Tsung
Max Haung as Kung Lao
Sis Stringer as Mileena
Matilda Kimber as Emily Young
Laura Brent as Allison Young