Mortal Kombat (2021)

mortal kombat poster 2021 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 7/10

Decent fighting choreography, characters look like the game characters

Lacks the energy, fun, and gore that the movie needs and deserves

Movie Info

Movie Name: Mortal Kombat

Studio: New Line Cinema

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

Release Date(s): April 8, 2021 (International)/April 23, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

mortal kombat liu kang kung lao ludi lin max huang

We’re kind of cool and almost have a backstory…we’re the stars right?

Nine challenges have occurred and the fate of the world hangs on the tenth challenge.  Outworld is winning and Earthrealm could fall.  Shang Tsung (Chin Han) doesn’t intend for that to happen and has sent Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) to eliminate the competition by taking out Cole Young (Lewis Tan) who could be the world’s best hope.  Thrust into battle, Cole learns that he and the other fighters must train under Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) if they hope to win Mortal Kombat…but Shang Tsung and his men won’t go down without a fight.

Directed by Simon McQuoid, Mortal Kombat is an action-adventure movie.  The film is a relaunch of the Mortal Kombat film series that ended with Mortal Kombat:  Annihilation in 1997.  It premiered on HBO Max and in theaters on April 23, 2021 to mixed reviews.

mortal kombat 2021 mileena sisi stringer

I love the taste of blood in the morning!

The first Mortal Kombat was goofy fun.  It essentially was a rip-off of Enter the Dragon where people had superpowers and fought each other in the best-worst sci-fi effects that 1995 could bring you.  While Mortal Kombat was better than its counterpart Street Fighter (from 1994), it still wasn’t good…but it was fun.  The new Mortal Kombat falls more along the lines of the Street Fighter film.

The problem is the story.  While the first film ripped off Enter the Dragon, this movie seems to have no direction.  You have people randomly showing up, a weak birthmark storyline, and randomly generating powers (like Kano played by Josh Lawson who gets a laser eye when screaming about wanting dinner).  It feels rather arbitrary.  This combines with an unfocused story with the dull Cole Young as the hero and a family past history with Sub-Zero.  It all leads to a rather uninspired last fight that is meant to set-up sequels.

mortal kombat goro

Goro…who appears and dies too early

When a video game like Mortal Kombat has characters that are just one-dimensional stereotypes, it is hard to turn them into fleshed out characters.  The movie does a good job making the characters look like their counterparts, but it doesn’t feel like they put any effort into the characters themselves.  They are just stock characters with random powers fighting…efforts to set-up rivalries don’t really work and there isn’t any vested interest in the characters.

While the choreography of the fights matches the games, it often feels like the fighters are moving in slow motion and part of it could be how it is shot.  I look at a film like John Wick which gets action right and think what it would be like to have it applied to Mortal Kombat…or even better something like The Raid.  It would be cool to see that energy put into Mortal Kombat (and if it had that level of energy, the plot wouldn’t matter as much).  Also, if the movie is R-Rated, make it R-Rated…except one vivisection, I feel that the violence was not hard core enough.  It’s a video game movie…make it completely over-the-top.

mortal kombat scorpion get over here hiroyuki sanada

Get over here!

I still think there is a good Mortal Kombat movie in Mortal Kombat somewhere if the right players come together.  This movie isn’t it.  I kind of wonder if the whole franchise needs to take a different and completely wild approach to the story…the movie needs to be a spectacle.  It is the type of movie that you need to turn to a friend and say “Did you see that?” during fight sequences.  The first Mortal Kombat film pumped you up when the signature music started blaring and “FIGHT!” was screamed, but this new iteration sometimes feels like a pale comparison.

Related Links:

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Mortal Kombat:  Annihilation (1997)

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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