Movies based on video games are notorious for being somewhere between bad to unwatchable. You’ll get a Detective Pikachu or a Sonic the Hedgehog from time to time. But most of the time, you get a Super Mario Bros, Doom, or Assassin’s Creed. 2021 brings a new Mortal Kombat movie. There have been attempts in the past, but the new one is the best version so far.
When Cole Young, an MMA fighter, is attacked by Sub-Zero, an otherworldly assassin, he must track down other warriors to take the enemies of Outworld. There is far more to the film, but for the movie review we will keep it short and simple. The team that Cole recruits includes Sonya Blade, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Kano.
An Entry Point
I will admit, I have never played the Mortal Kombat video games. I was never a video game kind of person. As you may have suspected, I spent my time watching movies and TV shows. Going into this movie, I was kind of nervous about it. I know that there is a lot of lore to the franchise with characters I do not know, motivations I do not understand, and a title that is purposely misspelled. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that none of that mattered. While unfamiliar with the source material, I found Mortal Kombat to be a good time.
With a movie like this, though, you have to meet it where it’s at. Although you want every single one to be good, you can’t go in to every movie expecting a masterpiece. Tempered expectations and an awareness of its tone is key to getting the most fulfillment from any given film. From what I understand, Mortal Kombat is largely a fighting game. Recent iterations have more story to them but early versions were straight-up fights. Knowing this, I could now focus on that aspect of the film. In this category, the one where it really matters, the movie did not disappoint.
The Good and the Bad
The fights in this movie are absolutely brutal. With an R-rating, the filmmakers were able to go all out in portraying the violence, blood, and gore. They definitely did that. In terms of violence and what it can lead to, they did not hold back. There were heads getting chopped off, limbs being ripped out, and (my personal favorite moment) entire bodies being sawed in half by a hat.
Beyond the fun of the violence, the acting and writing could have been better though. Even then, neither aspect is horrible. They get the job done. The actors take their jobs seriously while also understanding what Mortal Kombat is. They aren’t going for it in a way that makes things awkward but they are definitely selling the situation that they have found themselves in. Some of the dialogue is clunky, yet they were able to bring a complete outsider into the story to get invested and that has to count for something.
Ready for More
Mortal Kombat is not high art but it doesn’t have to be. It is exactly what the cast and crew set out to make and it’s great fun to spend some time in this world. For someone who knew very little about Mortal Kombat going in, I genuinely enjoyed it. To put it in a statement that is just as shocking to me as I am sure it is to you… I would welcome a sequel with open arms.