R | 1h 50min | Action, Adventure | 2021 (Ireland) | Movie
CinemaScore Rating: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 55% Rotten (Critics) | 88% Fresh (Audience)
Director: Simon McQuoid
Writers: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham, Oren Uziel
Stars: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson
Movie Tagline: “Get over here”…
IMDb summary: MMA fighter Cole Young seeks out Earth’s greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.
PLEASE BE AWARE BEFORE YOU READ ON WE ARE NOT SPOILER-FREE. THANK YOU.
MORTAL KOMBAT 2021 REVIEW
Mortal Kombat 2021 has definitely had its share of publicity over the last month or so. This means the hype for this film had reached a fever pitch. Sometimes that can completely ruin the expectations of viewers, particularly those who have a special fondness for this movie franchise. Mortal Kombat is based on a hugely popular video game for those who don’t know. The first Mortal Kombat was made back in 1995, which most people would probably rather forget. So how does this modern version of Mortal Kombat measure up against the original film?
There are pros and cons to both films. Let’s talk about the story for Mortal Kombat 2021 because I like to focus on the heart of the film. In this case, certain aspects of the story are actually better than the original film. But there are many questionable things, such as introducing someone nobody has heard of in the Mortal Kombat universe named Cole. Cole is the protagonist in this film, and he’s also one of the reasons the storyline fails to deliver. His character is written rather poorly, and nobody knows anything about him other than he bears the same Mortal Kombat markings as those warriors chosen to compete.
The first opening sequence of the film is one of my favourite parts of it. Why? Because it focuses on the part of the background story between the two eternal and opposing warriors Bi-Han, known as Sub Zero and Hanzo Hasashi, known as Scorpion. If you have never played the games before, you should be okay to go into the film without having any prior knowledge. But knowing the characters from the game definitely gives you an edge that helps to mould the pieces of the movie together. Unfortunately, the focus on Sub Zero and Scorpion as enemies ends after their first battle and is not revisited until the end of the film. The story’s focus then shifts between Cole and his story and the introduction of the other fighters.
One of the best things about a modernised version of an older film is having better special effects and fight sequences. And Mortal Kombat blows this out of the water. The fight sequences are amazingly well-choreographed, but that’s because the film features real martial artists to portray some of the main characters in the film.
Sometimes it’s just better to get a martial artist who speaks three lines in the role than an actor who knows nothing about martial arts. Or ideally, an actor that has had training in the martial arts. And it really pays off here. There are also a few actors you might recognise, such as Hiroyuki Sanada, who portrays Scorpion. He is a well-known actor from Japan and has been in many films, including Ringu (Ring), 47 Ronin, Wolverine and the upcoming Army of the Dead. He is also an exceptional example of an actor who has had martial arts training from an early age. Joe Taslim, who plays Sub Zero, is also a Judo practitioner and has appeared in the hit martial arts movie “The Raid”.
The introduction of new characters from the video games was also a nice touch – appreciated by anyone who has played the games. Unfortunately, that is where the better parts of this film end. The story falls a little flat, and the principal actor fails to draw you into this plight, probably due to poor acting and dialogue. If we’re supposed to be supporting this character, we need a reason to do that. My focus was entirely on the fighting, Sub Zero and Scorpion, and that’s about it. If you’re looking for anything more, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed.
In conclusion, Mortal Kombat tries harder than the first film to draw in the audience through fantastic special effects and action sequences. And it does both of these things exceptionally well. But without a protagonist to get behind, there’s nothing to invest in and nobody to connect with for the story to mean anything. If they make another film (which they might), I surely hope they focus on more of the characters that people enjoy seeing and their backstories instead of bringing in someone new nobody will care about.
Check out the trailer on YouTube: