Growing up in the ’90s was a wonderful time to be a kid. We had SNICK, Beanie Babies, AOL Instant Messenger (R.I.P), and the ultra-violent fighting game, Mortal Kombat. Though I didn’t play it nearly as much as my contemporaries, I can still remember the graphic violence shown as Sub-Zero removed the spine of his opponent, and the uproar the game caused to conservatives and housewives who clutched their pearls in terror and disgust. Since then, the Mortal Kombat franchise has spawned dozens upon dozens of games, animated shows, the 1995 live-action film to now where we see filmmaker Simon McQuoid’s take with a new live-action version of MORTAL KOMBAT.
Believe me when I say you do not want me to try to do a fully formed synopsis of MORTAL KOMBAT because there is just SO MUCH GOING ON in this film. So, with that in mind, here’s the official one: “MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage – or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same dragon marking Cole was both with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana – the immense power within his soul – in time to save not only his family, but to stop Outworld once and for all?”
Like I said above, this movie had SO MUCH happening at any given time and, for a while, I truly tried to keep myself abreast of the unfolding narrative. But, similar to what I experienced when I watched Monster Hunter, I eventually got to a point where I realized that all anyone needed to know, outside of this being an origin story for Cole Young (Lewis Tan), is that it features wicked kills, hella violence, and really hot people doing insanely impressive martial arts. If you’re searching for how this film ties into the overall lore of Mortal Kombat, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. But, if you’re looking for an over-the-top viewing experience that will have you cheering for your favorite fighter, then this is for you.
The fight scenes are really what make MORTAL KOMBAT stand out. Though the acting leaves a lot to be desired, I understand why they focused on actors who had martial art skills/experience over acting talent. There is a lot to enjoy with the movie but I think there are a few key scenes that Mortal Kombat fans are going to go wild for. One of which is Cole going up against a 4-armed creature. Though the CGI of the 4-armed creature could have been tweaked a bit to be less cartoonish, the overall fight between the two was nothing less than badass and I hope we eventually get to see a behind-the-scenes featurette. However, the most impressive fight takes place towards the end of the film when certain titans of the game come together in a beautiful display of ice, carnage, and martial arts.
As for the characters themselves, there is a dizzying array of them featured throughout the movie. Personally, I really enjoyed the more villainous characters such as Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Mileena (Sisi Stringer), and Kano (Josh Lawson). Whether it’s controlling ice to inflict the ultimate pain, unhinging a sharp tooth smile, or being “an aggressive little bunny,” these characters brought everything that one would hope for in terms of violence and gore. That said, as a whole, watching some of these fighters come into their arcana (aka their individual powers) was rather enjoyable.
Additionally, the film features a banger soundtrack that mixes together an ’80s style score with techno-infused beats. And, of course, there’s a new version of the Mortal Kombat theme by none other than composer Benjamin Wallfisch, who has composed iconic scores for such films as The Invisible Man, IT, Blade Runner 2049, and more. The music throughout the whole film is high-speed and engaging, allowing for the viewer to get hyped up on what they are about to see unfold.
Overall, MORTAL KOMBAT is an absolute blast and features exactly what you’re hoping a MORTAL KOMBAT movie would have. There are also a ton of Easter Eggs, callbacks, and famous quotes, as well as a little surprise that’ll be sure to get fans excited. Though it does suffer a bit under the wooden (and sometimes corny) acting as well as having a storyline that may be confusing to those not overly familiar with the franchise, once you let that go and fully commit to the outrageousness that the movie offers, you’ll have a blast.
MORTAL KOMBAT is set for release nationwide on April 23, 2021, in theaters and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.
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