I grew up with the 1995 film adaptation of Mortal Kombat (and that sequel that I forget they made). Led by Christopher Lambert as Lord Raiden and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as sorcerer Shang Tsung, the film holds a special place in my heart being as good as a game based movie can get. It just lacked the parts that made the future games so enjoyable – mainly the blood, profanity, and gore from the fatalities. The 2021 reboot gave us what 1995 was missing, but proved to be anything but flawless.
MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) seeks out Earth’s greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld that are hunting him in order to win a high stakes battle for the universe.
This movie started off great by providing the backstory of the rivalry between Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim). A bloody introduction that could have been more if the fighters were allowed to actually fight faster. Joe Taslim can go in an action film, but it just seemed like he and Sanada were fighting a little slower than usual. This opening fight set the stage that this wasn’t going to be like the 1995 film. However, the rest of the story stayed predictable like the original.
Then we moved onto Lewis Tan’s lead character Cole Young. Having seen his work on Marvel’s Iron Fist and Deadpool 2 as Shatterstar, I thought this could be Tan’s big break. That didn’t really happen. Cole Young was so generic as a character in an action film, having an unknown past and only a dragon “birthmark” as his only connection to go off of. After a while, I just started to identify Cole as player one. It was like someone had created him on the game and brought him to life into for the audience to have a character to get behind. I wish he could have been a more fleshed out protagonist.
The pillar characters that you wanted to see – Liu Kang, Lord Raiden, Sonya Blade, Jax, Kung Lao, Sub-Zero, and Shang Tsung – are all there. Even the mighty Prince Gorgo was there, even though I thought he should have been treated with more respect. The key moments for Earth’s fighters were pulled straight from the game as they performed their killer finishers. Surprisingly, Kano (Josh Lawson) was truly the star of the movie, adding profanity-laced humor and levity to the predictability of the storyline. He was probably one of the funniest, self-aware movie characters I’ve seen in a long time.
Great action and fight choreography was to be expected and landed in this film. Special effects regarding the characters and their abilities were well done to make these fighters come to life. Weird editing jumps hurt the film, but it was still handled with care by the director. As a fan of the game, you will be happy as a viewer of the updated Mortal Kombat. Either way, if you know what you’re getting into and your expectations are level, this movie won’t let you down with the action, violence, and gore.
What are your thoughts about the 2021 update of Mortal Kombat? Will you be watching this in the theaters as they reopen or will you relax at home with HBO Max?
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