I don’t think me or anyone I know was expecting an amazing work of art from Mortal Kombat. As fans of the series, we just wanted this updated film adaptation to be relatively faithful to what the video games always have been. It sounds simple, but that’s something that seems to be pretty difficult for Hollywood to accomplish in the vast majority of cases.
The film kicks off with Cole Young (Lewis Tan), a new character being introduced to the world of Mortal Kombat. He’s a lowly MMA fighter who’s known for being able to take a beating in the cage. It’s been his way of life up until he’s introduced to a mysterious side of the universe where deadly warriors with superpowers battle in a great tournament to see who will rule the universe.
Needless to say, the most important aspect of Mortal Kombat is the combat itself. Including myself, I think that’s what most of us will be focused on ahead of time. Of course, plenty of us will require more to be fully satisfied but there will be a chunk of the audience who watch this exclusively for the blood and gore.
Regardless of which category you fit in, I think you’ll be happy with the violence and what comes from it. If you regrettably had the chance to watch the 90s versions of these films, you were given a bloodless journey through the Mortal Kombat universe. Obviously, that was done to achieve the PG-13 rating that would increase the chances of those movies making money.
This time, the people behind the scenes wanted to make sure that this wasn’t an issue. In this day and age, we’ve seen that R-rated movies can and will sell so there wasn’t a need to hold back on what made this video game franchise the global phenomenon it became all those decades ago. Because of this added feature alone, I think some will enjoy the movie more.
In virtually every battle that comes across the screen, there’s blood and brutality. That was a welcome sight, but the fact that the fights themselves were usually pretty good helped make it more than just a novelty. There are a couple of fight scenes that stand out from the others. In short, they totally embody what fans have required from Mortal Kombat since its inception.
Out of all of the characters included, the best is clearly and easily Sub-Zero. Not only is he my favorite Mortal Kombat character, but he’s played by Joe Taslim, one of the better martial artists in film today. If you haven’t seen him in anything else, you should. And if you’re smart, you’d start off with the underrated and under-watched The Raid: Redemption starring him and Iko Uwais.
As a whole, the acting is one place you see noticeable cracks in the foundation of this rendition of Mortal Kombat. Like the movies from the 90s, the acting can be described as mediocre when it’s at its best for the most part. When it at its worst, it’s nothing short of being poor. To an extent, it can be distracting when it’s focused on too much.
Another issue comes in the form of the dialogue. I didn’t anticipate dialogue being as important as it turned out to be, but it’s so bad, it takes away from the film as a whole. As you’ll find out, seemingly every line spoken in Mortal Kombat is exposition used specifically to tell us who the characters are and what’s going on. You should expect this in some instances, but you never want to rely on it as much as they do here.
Maybe if the actors had a better script to work with, their performances wouldn’t have been as poor as they were. In a way, it prevents this from being as fun as it could have been. It moves pretty fast and the action is mostly top-notch. I’ll certainly watch some of the fights again, but I’ll pass on watching the movie all the way through. Overall, it’s okay, but fixing those crucial elements could have made this that much better.
Director: Simon McQuiod
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO Max
- Score - 5.5/105.5/10