This is not Mortal Kombat’s first foray onto the big screen. In 1995 New Line Cinema brought the video game to life with mediocre reactions. It was good enough to spawn a sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and a few animated films as well. When the first film released the first Mortal Kombat video game (Midway Games) had only been out for 3-years and its cultural power was yet to truly be known.
Fast forward 25-years, the MK franchise has been around for much longer, has a much larger following, and is built into the collective minds of old and new gamers. With 22 games released to date, some remakes, and some reboots, it is easy to see why Warner Bros. decided now is the time for a new movie.
Without the help of an 8-minute short film named Mortal Kombat: Rebirth by Kevin Tancharoen we probably still would not have this movie based on the video game franchise. It took 11-years from its release for this film to see the light of day.
This Mortal Kombat is by far the best MK movie to ever grace our screens. It certainly helps usher in a new era in what we should expect for video game movies. Very few movies based on games live up to the hype and I feel as though Mortal Kombat does.
There are some cheesy lines and predictable moments, but it also captures the essence of the game. The fights do not feel cheesy. Lines from the game are worked in without being hokey. Finishing moves – I’m going to leave that vague on purpose.
One thing I didn’t consider in terms of movie vs game is the arcana is used as a way to level-up the characters. It’s a smart tactic in the movie to get them powers and at the same time give a nod to the game. You can thank Phil from PhillerInstinct on Twitch for that comparison.
Despite the cheesy lines, the acting is fairly solid with Kano (Josh Lawson) stealing nearly every scene he’s in. The weakest performance, in my opinion, is Cole (Lewis Tan). It was hard for me to connect with someone whose defining trait is losing. I understand the logic, to become a champion you need to become more than you already are, but in this case, it felt forced instead of organic.
There are a few scenes I would have let breathe that may have helped with making Cole’s character more receptive to audiences – like the end of his MMA fight. The film editing is subpar for what this movie deserved. The aforementioned scene is a perfect example of this.
Liu Kang’s backstory is explained elegantly in a few simple lines of dialogue. I am not going to get into each actor’s performance, but I did enjoy Sonya, Lord Raiden, and Sub Zero in the film. The one I was the most invested in was Hanzo. The opening minutes were magnificent, and I would love to see a prequel based on his life.
All-in-all, Mortal Kombat is far from perfect. It is, however, exactly what I expected – a fun action flick full of gory kombat. It set itself up perfectly for a sequel, and I, for one, will be in line to see it when theatres open back up.