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"Mortal Kombat" (2021) Movie Review

Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.


THIS is how you adapt a hand-to-hand-combat video game. Despite a few minor issues, the reboot somehow managed to fit in multiple origin stories, a fluid Act 2, and fantastic fight sequences with an epilogue setting up the next installment. The writers clearly knew what they were doing and everything came together beautifully under the helm of director Simon McQuoid.

The film follows Cole Young, a small-time fighter who is barely supporting his family. He meets Jax one day who informs Cole that his birthmark is actually the mark of the chosen. The chosen are destined to one day fight against the champions of Outworld in the tournament known as Mortal Kombat. Earthrealm has lost the last 9 tournaments and if they lose the tenth, then Outworld will take possession of Earthrealm. Lord Raiden, the God of Thunder, is desperate to ensure Earthrealm's survival. Cole, Sonya Blade, Jax, and Kano must train with Liu Kang and Kung Lao in order to unlock their Arcana, a magical power only the chosen can possess, in order to have any hopes of triumphing over Outworld.

As a two-decades long Mortal Kombat fan, I freely admit to my verbal excitement throughout the film as some of my favorite characters were given the justice they deserved after the cheesy debacles that were the '95 and '97 film adaptations. I especially loved seeing Liu Kang's special and legendary moves, as well as some of the best fatality and finisher moves. The special effects team deserves a round of applause for giving Sub-Zero's powers the life they deserve. The entire stunt team's work paid off. It was obvious that the fight choreographers and stunt coordinators put everything they had into making this film look and feel amazing.

While I have a huge amount of praise for the film, I do have some issues to bring to light. First, the visual effects team was massive and they couldn't make Goro look better? I mean, I realize they didn't have the budget that Batman v Superman had but a little more work needed to be put into his features. He looked way too fake and actually took me out of the moment. Goro threatening Cole's family should have been an intense scene with a huge emotional pay-off but instead it felt underwhelming. Second, I realize the writers had to figure out how to work in the games' infamous lines such as "Fatality" and "Flawless Victory" but these references still felt a bit out of place, albeit much improved compared to the 90s films. The only two line-drops that felt natural was Kano's declaration "Kano wins!" and Scorpion's famous "Get over here!" as these two fit their characters and the moments in which they were presented.

I loved the entire cast. Everyone was perfect in their roles but the standout was by far Josh Lawson as Kano. His voice, mannerisms, attitude...all of it was on point. Jessica McNamee was a true badass as Sonya Blade and I am excited to see her meet Johnny Cage in the next film. I don't know who they'll pick to play Johnny but I have complete trust in their casting abilities.

In conclusion, the film was a massive success in my eyes and I look forward to seeing this series unfold and the universe expand. I also hope that the characters that seemed underutilized in this film get their time in the spotlight in upcoming films. I give Mortal Kombat a 3 out of 4.

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© 2021 Nathan Jasper


Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on April 24, 2021:

I loved Mortal Kombat too!

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