Mortal Kombat (2021) provides a new take on the bloody and violent video game series
By Nathan David
It has been almost 30 years since the original “Mortal Kombat” fighting game arrived in arcades throughout the world and found a special place in the minds of many young people ever since then. The excessive blood and violence in the game captivated many and made the game famous amongst kids while also worrying parents. The idea of a Mortal Kombat movie is not a new concept, with two previous movies being released before, them being “Mortal Kombat (1995)” and “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.” Both previous movies, especially Annihilation, received lots of negative feedback due to it’s unintelligible plot. Has the director, Simon McQuoid, learned from the mistakes of the past or has the movie suffered the same fatality the others had?
The movie can either be seen in theatres or streamed with an “HBO Max” subscription, which costs $14.99 a month. This is good when compared to other streaming platforms such as “Disney+,” which requires an additional $30 per movie to watch it early while HBO Max only requires the base subscription cost to watch.
The story follows Cole Young, an MMA fighter played by Lewis Tan who is also known for playing Shatterstar in “Deadpool 2.” Cole is a completely new character that is not present in any of the Mortal Kombat games, which at first confused me when watching for the first time. He carries a mark that all fighters in the Mortal Kombat tournament carries, and he spends most of the movie trying to unlock the power inside of it in order to save the Earth from total annihilation.
The biggest thing that stands out to viewers when first watching this movie is the excessive blood and gore during the fight scenes. While it may seem like a con to some people, in my opinion it makes the film better. It acts as reference and homage to its source material, as the games are known and famous for the same over the top blood and gore.
The same can be said for the questionable looking CGI blood used throughout the film. At first, I thought it looked cheesy and fake looking when compared to real life prop blood. However, as I watched more it gradually reminded me of the similarly looking blood from the games, specifically the blood from Mortal Kombat 9 and 10.
Another iconic thing from the Mortal Kombat series are the “fatalities,” which is an over the top and gruesome finishing move that ends a fight. Luckily for the audience, the movie has no shortage of fatalities with them being as graphic and bloody as the ones in the games. Some of the fatalities shown are even the exact same as the ones from the games, which was a nice surprise to me.
The movie also includes some of the famous lines from the games, such as “Flawless victory,” “Test your might,” and “Get over here!”, further paying homage to its source material. With all these pros, there is arguably an equal amount of cons weighing in opposition to them.
One con that stands out to fans of the games is the exclusion of many popular characters, such as Kitana and Johnny Cage who were present in the previous two movies. While it may seem like a small nitpick to regular viewers, it can be seen as a disappointment by fans who were hoping to see their favorite childhood character on the big screen, only to be let down when the movie ends.
Another complaint I have is the lack of scenes containing the character Scorpion, who is arguably one of the most popular characters in Mortal Kombat. He is only shown in two fight scenes during the entire movie, which is a huge let down when you take into account that he is in almost all the advertisements for the movie and his reputation amongst the fans.
The movie unfortunately succumbs to the same flaws as the previous two films, in that the plot feels unenjoyable and doesn’t make sense to the audience as they build up this grand tournament throughout the whole movie, but instead abandons that idea at the last second. This also has the secondary effect of making the end feel rushed in order to get to the climactic fight between Sub Zero and Scorpion. The characters also make confusing decisions throughout the movie. For example, Cole goes away from his family in order to keep them safe from Sub Zero, yet later in the movie he goes back to them only to get them in more serious danger.
All in all, Mortal Kombat (2021) succeeds in bringing in video games onto the big screen, through its use of excessive blood and violence that faithfully honors its source material, and is certainly the best Mortal Kombat film out of the three released in the past 20 years. However, it falls short in being memorable, as the plot feels rushed and does not make sense to viewers.