Movie Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

TL;DR – reboot of the popular video game of the same name. Mortal Kombat pegs Earth’s fiercest fighters against Outworld’s warriors in a battle royale. Expect plenty of action, solid CGI effects, and a thread of a plot that isn’t necessary to enjoying the film.

Review (warning: spoilers)

After the critically panned Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was released in 1997, further films based on the iconic video game stalled for decades. A quarter of a century on, and we see its return as a complete reboot of the martial arts fantasy film franchise.

Basing a movie on a video game is always a bit of a tall ask, and expectations should be measured on a different scale when the source material is a bunch of characters fighting one-on-one in a massive blood splattering, UFC-type event. Building any sense of a solid plot on such slim pickings should not mean an expectation of Academy Award nominating potential.

There are video games that have extensive lore. The movie Warcraft released in 2016 is based on the hugely successful video game series of the same name, and has tons of fantasy lore from which to create stories that arguably rival established fantasy novel classics like ‘Lord of the Rings’. Warcraft managed to be the first video game film to break $400 million in ticket sales. However, this did not stop critics from giving out derisive reviews.

Mortal Kombat does not have the luxury of backstory that Warcraft has but in a way that is something that should be commonly known. What you should be expecting from this film are outrageous but exciting action sequences, some corny but still laughable one-liners, more action, a slim thread of plot, more action, a solid sound track, and more action.

From this perspective, Mortal Kombat goes leaps and bounds above its 1997 predecessor, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Aussie actor, Josh Lawson, is probably the pick of the cast, transforming himself into the hulking, back-stabbing fighter named Kano. He delivers lines both foul-mouthed and droll that are downright laugh out loud.

Hiroyuki Sanada as Scorpion and Joe Taslim as Sub-zero are the ones that bring surprising emotional gravitas to what is essentially a turn-off-your-brain film.

The plot, for all its attempts at depth, can be summarised in one sentence. Selected fighters of Earthrealm (i.e. Earth) must battle selected fighters of Outworld (i.e alien world) in order to save Earth. That’s it. Enjoy the ride.

6.5 out of 10

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