‘Mortal Kombat’ Review – A Nod to True Fans and a Step in a New Direction


MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is unaware of his heritage – or why Outworld’s Emperor seeks to hunt him down. Cole finds sanctuary under Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) and prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe. Will Cole be able to unleash his arcana in time to stop the Outworld once and for all?

The nostalgia train is continuing to gain speed and picking up passengers along the way. But realistically, how much longer can franchises rely on that feeling to move stories forward? Probably forever, nostalgia is weird like that. No matter how many times they remake or reboot a film or franchise we love, we watch the new rendition anyway because we just have to know. We have to know if it’s an improvement, did they change the story, did they add that one character that the others forgot, does it look better, etc. And let’s be honest, even when nostalgia films are bad, they’re still kind of good because it’s very hard to truly ruin something you love (except for those last few TMNT movies, yikes!). Not only that, but we want to love it and might even force ourselves to because that’s our thing. Regardless, reboots and remakes are here to stay, let’s just hope they don’t completely suck.

“It’s not a birthmark, Cole, it means you’ve been chosen.”

From witty gamer lines to brutal fatalities, Mortal Kombat is a nod to true fans and a step in a new direction. While giving us some of the characters and gore we expect from this franchise and hadn’t necessarily gotten before, this film felt like only a taste of what they have planned for the future. Unfortunately, for me, the taste I got was bittersweet. While I received the remnants of the action-adventure that I know and love and even enjoyed some of the new changes, such as the dragon marking, something about the film didn’t fully resonate with me. Whether it was the somewhat disjointed story, lack of compelling characters, adding a new character specifically for this story, or the fact we didn’t quite get what was promised, the film falls a bit flat. It forced me to shift focus onto two characters that are my least favorite in the game, Kano and Jax that I felt were the most interesting in the film. Even while Jax had one of the worst and shortest fights in the film. Fortunately, the film is visually appealing, the fight choreography is well done, and the costume design is amazing and pretty accurate. Not to mention the score is bumping as well. You can feel the Mortal Kombat world being built as the film moves along, so a part of me feels as if they held back some.

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With its mentions and visuals representations of characters that physically are not in this film coupled with the way it ends, they definitely set this one up for a sequel or more. The biggest distraction for me was the lack of focus on the story that it initially began to tell. Nevertheless, the film is still a fun time. There’s enough cheesiness to let you know that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and enough action and blood-spilling to keep it exciting. Some fans may be upset about the outcome or portrayal of their favorite characters but as I said earlier, there’s going to be a sequel and there will no doubt be far more to see and expound upon. It didn’t finish me, but we can be friends. Its rewatchability is medium-high.

(L-r) HIROYUKI SANADA as Scorpion/Hanzo Hasashi and JOE TASLIM as Sub-Zero/Bi-Han in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Mortal Kombat,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
LEWIS TAN as Cole Young in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Mortal Kombat,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Plot & Pace

After an attack by Bi-Han and the Lin Kuei leaves Hanzo Hasashi dead, it also results in the deaths of his family as well. That is except for a baby that was hidden and later rescued by a powerful being. Generations later, an amateur MMA fighter named Cole has his life drastically changed when an ice-slinging assassin attempts to take the life of him and his family. Saved by a stranger he met previously that night, he learns that the dragon marking that he has had since birth isn’t a birthmark at all and he isn’t the only one that bears it. After getting to safety, he meets Sonya Blade and a criminal named Kano. Blade has extensive knowledge of the dragon marking and a tournament that’s attached to it. Having to work together, the trio finds themselves under the protection of Lord Raiden and his mentees and are told they are the only ones that can stop an evil emperor from Outworld from claiming the Earth for himself and enslaving humanity. However, they must first unlock their arcana in order to unleash their power within. It’s no easy task when only a select group is able to unlock their power, some have immense trouble do so, and not everyone plans to be on the side of good. With the odds stacked against them, can they save Earthrealm or is this the end?

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The pacing is pretty decent. Once the fighting begins its pretty constant with only pauses for witty

JOSH LAWSON as Kano in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Mortal Kombat,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
(L-r) LUDI LIN as Liu Kang and MAX HUANG as Kung Lao in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Mortal Kombat,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures

Characters & Chemistry

It’s unfortunate that we lost some of the characters that we did in this film. However, in a world with gods and sorcerers, there’s no telling who we may see again. The chemistry in this film was more on the comical side as only a few of the characters had a history with each other while the rest are potentially trying to kill you. The standouts for me were Kano (Josh Lawson), Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), and Kung Lao (Max Huang). Kano, as most of us know, is an asshole that cares only about Kano. He’s ruthless and the hilarious banter that Lawson delivers is perfect. Sub-Zero is like the Grim Reaper of this film. He’s the cold chill of death and you never quite know when he’s coming. Jax may not have been in the film a great deal but is pivotal to the story’s beginning and one of the only ones I cared about since he actually made a real sacrifice. And Kung Lao was a pleasant surprise. He was witty, a bit cocky, and not one to be messed with. His chemistry with Kano was probably my favorite. I couldn’t fully get behind Lewis Tan’s character, Cole. Not because of anything he did but because of how he was written. He was not deserving of the hero arc that he was given but we’ll see what they do with him in the sequel.

As of April 23, 2021, Mortal Kobat is in theaters and available on HBO Max. Stay safe and enjoy.

Director: Simon McQuoid

Writers: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham, Oren Uziel

Producers: Simon McQuoid, James Wan, Todd Garner, E. Bennett Walsh

Executive Producers: Richard Brener, Michael Clear, Lawrence Kasanoff, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Jeremy Stein

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 50m

Rating: 3 out of 5

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J983DiVbZ9k]

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