‘Mortal Kombat’: A not-so-flawless remake of a video game classic

Published April 28, 2021, 3:06 PM

by Rom Mallick

SCREENCRUNCH: Still, the film delivers on its promise of pure, wholesome, unadulterated violence—and more

By now, you’ve probably seen the latest film remake of ‘90s video game title “Mortal Kombat.” You probably know (*SPOILER ALERT*) that there’s a chance it will get a second installment. But before we even consider what could be the next movie for the much-loved video game franchise, here’s a quick review of why this 2021 version of “Mortal Kombat” was worth a watch.

Scorpion, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, as he appears in the 2021 version of ‘Mortal Kombat’ (Warner Bros.)

There is an argument to be made about why there really isn’t any reason to nitpick on a film like “Mortal Kombat.” For one, it wasn’t really made to garner awards—although that’s not saying it couldn’t. It wasn’t made to have that perfect cinematography or that perfect musical score, which isn’t saying that it didn’t have these. It wasn’t even made to be a demonstration of advanced special effects, which it also didn’t lack. “Mortal Kombat” was made to be, well, an adaptation of a famous fighting video game. In this regard, it delivered quite well. But in other storytelling aspects, it wasn’t quite flawless.

Directed by Simon McQouid, the film suffers from a storytelling that feels very disorienting, particularly during its first moments. It tries to pack so much backstory in such a short span of time that none of the characters ever feel truly fleshed out. And the film really did introduce so many characters from the video game that, if you’re not a fan, you might just end up ignoring.

This really isn’t much of a big deal if the only thing you’re after is the action sequences—and, boy, were they good. From the first fight scenes that introduced the ancient rivalry between Scorpion (played by Hiroyuki Sanada) and Sub-Zero (played by Joe Taslim) to the gorgeously bloody fatalities beautifully faithful to those from the video games, this version of “Mortal Kombat” proves to be quite entertaining. Sure, the many fight scenes inserted in the nearly-two-hour-film made storytelling less of a priority, but hey who are we to complain, really?

When it comes to fight scenes and fatalities, “Mortal Kombat” doesn’t disappoint. For one, the fights weren’t all about special effects. A great deal of them had wonderfully executed and carefully choreographed martial arts sequences, which Taslim and Sanada both excelled at. The two veterans weren’t the only ones with martial arts backgrounds, however. Lead star Lewis Tan, who played Cole Young, was no stranger to martial arts, as well as co-stars Ludi Lin (Liu Kang) and Max Huang (Kung Lao)—never mind that Cole’s character, being the only one not from the video games, is hardly relatable.

Lewis Tan as Cole Young (Warner Bros.)

The point is, if you want awesome fights scenes, nostalgic moments that call back to the days when you played “Mortal Kombat,” then this film is one you shouldn’t miss. If you don’t even know what “Mortal Kombat” is, well, you might still want to check the movie out just to be entertained. But don’t expect an award-winning flick.

We give “Mortal Kombat” a 3.5 out of 5.

 
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