What are you expecting out of a movie based on Mortal Kombat? You get all the hits here. Without delving too much into spoilers, this is a movie that you want to see famous characters fighting with each other. If you’re here for a plot that does more than hold the film together, you’re in the wrong place. Through it all, Mortal Kombat gives you some pretty fantastic fight scenes, good to great performances, and the effects are top notch.
There’s not much to complain about besides the writing of the film, but I’ll give that a pass. We’ll get to that later, though, for now, let’s start with the performances.
I Can’t Think Of An Embarrassing Performance In The Film
I mean, if you’re acting in a movie about Mortal Kombat, you’re not going to be doing The Seventh Seal. Outside of that, all the characters are performed believably, with Mehcad Brooks (Jax), Josh Lawson (Kano), and Hiroyuki Sanada (Hanzo/Scorpion) standing out. That doesn’t mean that performances by the rest of the cast like Lewis Tan (Cole), Jessica McNamee (Sonya), Joe Taslim (Bi-Han/Sub-Zero), Chin Han (Shang Tsung), Max Huang (Kung Lao), or Ludi Lin (Liu Kang) are bad. They’re all incredibly accurate and what you would think of when you picture the video game characters in your head.
With some of the characters getting more screen-time than others, the smaller characters need to get their work in. Everyone looks strong here. Jax fighting Sub-Zero at the beginning of the film and his fight against Reiko (Nathan Jones) is a particular highlight. He’s not in the film as much as the other characters but Brooks is a star in the waiting, especially in this role.
Kano gets all of the humor in the film, and Lawson’s delivery of his lines is perfect. I was busting up at some of the things he was saying, and the scene where he finds his power, is a gut buster. Just don’t forget to pass him the goddamn egg roll.
It goes to show that the cast works so well together. The group of villains gel well with each other throughout the film, as do our heroes. Especially when they’re training in the middle of the film.
Let’s Be Honest, You’re Here To See Fatalities And Fights
Being a Mortal Kombat film, you want to see some fatalities. There are plenty of them in this film and then some. You get to see all the famous ones from the games, they’re all here. Faithfully recreated and giving you plenty of “raise your fist” moments for the audience. I’m sad that I didn’t get to catch this one in theaters, because I can only imagine going crazy with other MK fans. They’re that good and faithful to the original material.
The fight choreography is top notch. If you didn’t have great fights, this movie would be nothing. So luckily, from the get-go, we have plenty of action, and it’s all choreographed like a ballet. The actors and stunt work all put in great effort here to make sure that the film looks like the video game. You have Liu Kang’s bicycle kick, Scorpion’s trademark moves, Jax being a goddamn powerhouse, and Sonya Blade’s more MMA focused moves.
The gore effects are CG, but this being a video game movie, it doesn’t actually distract too much from the experience. They do this in an interesting way, with real blood spurting on the actors, particularly Kung Lao’s big fatality scene.
Side Note About Goro
Goro is fantastic in the film. His CGI isn’t distracting from the overall film. I wish he would have gotten a better fight and purpose in the film, other than getting Cole’s powers activated. If there’s a sequel, find a way to revive him and have him get a better fight.
Now For What Holds The Film Down
The script. The plot. The villains. They’re… not great. They do the job, but especially the villains, they get lost. I can’t remember one thing that Mileena (Sisi Stringer), Kabal (Daniel Nelson), or Nitara (Mel Jarnson) did, besides their deaths. They’re just there to get their asses kicked and besides Sub-Zero and Shang Tsung, they don’t do anything of note. I guess that’s because they’re sub-villains, so they don’t get huge grandiose plots like the two main villains do. Sub-Zero gets the big plot with Hanzo/Scorpion and Shang Tsung is the one trying to take over Earth and enslave the human race. But the whole thing is just an excuse to get the people fighting.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t even have a tournament, because the explanation is “the bad guys break the rules”. Hopefully, in a sequel, we get an actual tournament. The end of the film comes kind of abruptly, and some of the fight scenes at the end are predictable, because we can’t have Jax getting his ass kicked again.
It’s not perfect, it’s not good, but the plot keeps the film from falling apart at least. Greg Russo and Dave Callaham had their work cut out for them with this one. It’s hard to juggle this many characters, introduce them, and keep them relevant for the entire movie. They chose the right characters to focus on, however.
Cole’s Story Kind Of Takes A Backseat To Scorpion/Hanzo
Lewis Tan does a good job of holding the movie up through some of the weightier parts. But at the end of the day, this is about Scorpion vs. Sub-Zero. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because the film begins with their fight. Their fight at the end is the real highlight of the film. It’s the most like the video games, through all of the fights that feel like a video game.
But for the main character’s story to take a backseat to the other stories is slightly disappointing. It’s what superfans of the video game would want though.
Geysers Of Blood, Fabulous Fights, Entertaining Film
The biggest question you can ask yourself coming out of Mortal Kombat is: was I entertained?
Were you? I sure was. Through the film, even with a plot that’s pretty thin, and writing that isn’t great, it still holds together. You’re going to rewatch this one for the fight scenes, not the mythology. It’s accurate to a “t” with the video games. (If you’re looking for somewhere that gives a great story about the original games, check out our review of the documentary about Midway, right here). Because of that fact, this is going to excite fans of those games. People who aren’t as up with the MK mythos are still going to like this one.
Just go into it with the mindset that it’s a fun popcorn movie and you won’t be disappointed.
After all, you’re watching Mortal Kombat, what are you expecting, Citizen Kane?
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