Mortal Kombat (1995)

6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Some fun and memorable fights

A rip-off of the Enter the Dragon story, effects haven't aged well

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mortal Kombat

Studio:  Threshold Entertainment

Genre(s):  Martial Arts/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  August 18, 1995

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Test your might!

A tournament is occurring on an island and the Earth’s greatest fighters are being recruited.  Liu Kang (Robin Shou) has entered to avenge his brother’s death, Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) is an actor who wants respect, and Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson) is a Special Forces agent seeking Kano (Trevor Goddard) …the man who killed her partner.  They all fall under the watchful eye of Raiden (Christopher Lambert) who claims to be a god of thunder.  Raiden reveals that the battle isn’t a normal tournament and losing to Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and his agents could mean the end of life on Earth as they know it.


Get over here!!!

Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson (credited as Paul Anderson), Mortal Kombat adapts the popular fighting video game which first premiered in 1992.  The film was released to negative reviews but became a big box office success along with its soundtrack.

Mortal Kombat was everywhere in the early ’90s.  The game was on every system, in every arcade, and sparking controversy with its violent Fatalities and “realistic” graphics.  Though I played Mortal Kombat I was a bigger fan of the more cartoonish Street Fighter game.  This film did end up better than the Street Fighter movie…but not by much.


I guess there are worse ways to die…

The movie takes the film’s framework from the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon…almost down to the characters.  The story does have its moments, but after finally getting to “Mortal Kombat” with the Johnny Cage/Scorpion fight, begins to get tedious.  You know how the movie is going to end and it ends as you expect it…it all comes down to how much you enjoy the fights.

The cast originally had grander expectations.  Brandon Lee was allegedly attached to the film before being killed during the filming of The Crow.  Actors like Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp were considered for Johnny Cage (I can’t imagine that either would have done it) but allegedly Van Damme turned down the role for Street Fighter.  Cameron Diaz allegedly was planned for Sonya but broke her wrist.  There even is a story that Stephen Spielberg was planned for a cameo as the director of Johnny Cage’s film.  Instead, you ended up with Christopher Lambert and a bunch of so-so actors trapped in a movie with little script.


Goro rules!!!

The movie comes down to the fighting and some of the fights are inspiring and others are ho-hum.  Time has not been kind to Mortal Kombat’s visuals which are very dated CGI…and they do not even match up with the live actors.  I can remember initially seeing this movie, it looked much better and the energy level was pretty high.  Now, the movie is sluggish when compared to similar modern films…but that soundtrack still is pumping!

Mortal Kombat isn’t a very good film, but it will hold some nostalgia for a kid of the ’90s.  You’d be better off enjoying a real martial arts film instead of this hybrid type film.  The success of the movie (which does end in a cliffhanger) inspired a less than successful sequel Mortal Kombat:  Annihilation in 1997, the TV series Mortal Kombat:  Konquest, and a spin-off web series Mortal Kombat:  Legacy in 2011.

Related Links:

Mortal Kombat:  Annihilation (1997)

Mortal Kombat (2021)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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