I was speaking to my sister yesterday, in anticipation of screening the upcoming action/fantasy film MORTAL KOMBAT and had the biggest memory lapse! I honestly couldn’t calculate, nor believe, that the original “Mortal Kombat” game was released in October 1992 – almost thirty years ago – confirming that I was a young adult, not a young teen, swept up in gameplay! I kept saying, “I wasn’t in my twenties playing that game!” But alas, I would have been 19 years old when the first game in that series was released.
I never played past the second version, I believe the series is on Mortal Kombat 11 now, but was able to relive a bit of my young adulthood and name my favorite characters – Liu Kang and Kitana (Mortal Kombat II, 1993), although my sister swears I used to use the character Sub-Zero to beat her!
So, I was really interested and excited to view the film, forgoing any reading of production notes, intentionally not watching that free seven minute opener provided by HBO Max, and being completely new and open to the film’s presentation.
Here’s the official synopsis: In “Mortal Kombat,” MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul—in time to save not only his family, but to stop Outworld once and for all?
I’ll start my thoughts by saying this, the film is mostly for lovers of the game franchise and/or those with a gaming mindset who enjoy action. Now I’m no prude and the latter doesn’t bother me, but nowadays I just like a bit more solidity with storytelling and in that respect the movie doesn’t satisfy.
Yet, in addition to the jaw-dropping action, “Mortal Kombat” is solid on the nostalgia, and it was fun to hear familiar terms like “flawless victory,” “get over here,” and “finish him” along with watching some of those favorite early characters brought to life – especially a buffed Mechad Brooks who portrays Jax.
And Josh Lawson as Kano is also a perfect choice – and has the best one-liners and comedic timing in the entire film.
Unfortunately, the film just didn’t deliver substantially with the story after those first fifteen or so minutes – maybe that’s why the studio felt comfortable enough sharing those first seven for free?
All in all, “Mortal Kombat” game lovers will be thrilled, and action lovers can get some decent, and a few kick-ass, fight scenes as well.
I rate it 2.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
MORTAL KOMBAT will premiere in theaters, and stream on HBO MAX for 31 days, starting tomorrow April 23.
Until next thought, Thomasena