Australia, USA. 2021. Action/Fantasy
110 min.
Director: Simon McQuoid
Cast: Lewis Tan (Cole), Jessica McNamee (Sonya), Josh Lawson (Kano).

An arcade classic

Mortal Kombat is considered one of the best games of all time. With its realistic digitized characters and extreme violence, it was a huge hit since coming to the arcades in 1992. I was a young arcade fan and was a decent MK player (I finished the entire game with a single coin using Sub-Zero). In addition, shortly before its premiere, they uploaded a promo on YouTube with the first minutes of the film showing their opening fight, which looks good. These two were enough incentives to watch the new adaptation in the cinema of Simon McQuoid. My expectations were low and even so, I was disappointed.

Ancient rivarly

Mortal Kombat (2021)
Scorpio – Mortal Kombat (2021)

In feudal Japan, we know Hanzo Hasashi and his family. When Hanzo wanders a bit away from his house, his family is attacked by Bi-Han and a group of warriors. Hanzo hears the commotion, but when he returns he is already late. His wife and his son have already been frozen by Bi-Han, the future Sub-Zero. Hanzo manages to defeat the other warriors, but loses against Bi-Han and dies, crying out for revenge. Bi-Han apparently fulfilled his mission: to end Hasashi’s heritage.

When everything is calm, Raiden appears and rescues the baby, Hanzo’s daughter, who was saved by being hidden by his wife before she died. We jump to the present and see Cole Young, a down on his luck former MMA champion. He meets Jax and shows him the Mark of the Dragon on his chest. This will take Young, a descendant of Hanzo, on an adventure that will take him to the Mortal Kombat tournament.

Low commintment

Sonya - Mortal Kombat (2021)
Sonya – Mortal Kombat (2021)

Although this kind of cinema is aimed at a specific audience, who expect only adventure and action, a certain level of commitment and quality is expected from the creators. And Mortal Kombat doesn’t have it. Although they manage to capture the essence of the game and its characters with a lot of fan service, in general, the movie fails on many levels. The script is flat. There are too many inconsistencies and plot holes. The dialogues are 10-year-old level. The pacing of the movie changes in the third act, where it feels like they’ve realized that they had taken a long time to develop the story and suddenly want to solve everything immediately. Video games have more interesting stories than in this movie.

Missing classic characters

Goro - Mortal Kombat (2021)
Goro – Mortal Kombat (2021)

An incomprehensible situation is to give the title role to a new character. Which is the reason? Many of MK’s established characters have a more interesting background that fans would have loved to see on screen. The performances are fair to bad. Also, special effects are hit or miss. Some look excellent, but others just look poorly made. Goro looks great.

Failed combat sequences

Liu Kang - Mortal Kombat (2021)
Liu Kang – Mortal Kombat (2021)

Now, we all look forward to the fighting scenes. And although if they manage to capture the flair of video games, these fights are nothing special. They are not fluid and use the cheap trick of using a lot of fast cuts to give them a sense of fake dynamism.

Why do fight sequences like the John Wick series work? Because they are made with long takes, with choreographed movements, are well directed, aided by adequate editing. To achieve this, more training, more time and therefore more money is required. But besides all this, what is more needed to achieve better fighting scenes is talent. The quick cuts technique is used either when your actors don’t know how to fight, or when the director doesn’t have the expertise to shoot scenes longer than just showing a couple of blow exchanges. Even Godzilla vs. Kong (Adam Wingard 2021) has better and more accomplished fight sequences. At least the opening and ending fight sequences are exciting.

Fast food entertainment

Sub-Zero - Mortal Kombat (2021)
Sub-Zero – Mortal Kombat (2021)

Mortal Kombat has a well-defined target audience. Fans of action movies, the saga, and children. And all will like it. But even fans will end up missing seeing more of the most beloved characters like Scorpio and Sub-Zero. Shang Tsung, Goro, and others do very little. Johnny Cage is completely out of the story, saved for a future film. And yes, it has a decent level of entertainment, on the same level as fast food is nutritious. An entertaining time-waster, but disposable and forgettable.

Delirium score

Apart from a couple of decent fight scenes, the rest are forgettable. Disposable entertainment.

Written by Guillermo Garnica Bouchot

Music Lover, Comic Reader, Film Buff, Cat Person.