I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 156 years.
Greg Russo and Dave Callaham
The eagerly awaited, highly anticipated Mortal Kombat reboot contains such scenes of gratuitous heartfelt discussions about life, our goals, our regrets, how we must learn to forgive each other, and most of all ourselves if we want to succeed in this delicate dance of joy and pain we call life.
You say you want well-drawn characters, a complex storyline that those who pay attention will follow, a film experience we can call share in.
If you want that, you might as well see Godzilla Vs. Kong again because you’re going to get nothing like that from Mortal Kombat.
When you pay your ticket/start streaming Mortal Kombat, just know you will get exactly what you pay for, which is paper-thin characters, um, karacters fighting each other to the bloody death.
You need not bother reading the rest of this review, because if you’re the core audience for Mortal Kombat, do you really need a review to figure out if you’re going to see this?
And if you actually do need a review to know if you’re going to see Mortal Kombat, did you get kicked in the head or have your spine torn out?
*laughter ensues for the next five minutes*
Synopsis Because You Care About Story
Mortal Kombat opens somewhere in Japan or China. Do you care?
We meet a super great fighter person Hanzo Hashashi (Hiroyuki Sanada).
I don’t know. I’ve never played the game. If some MK fanboy’s j*zzing in his jeans, then this must mean something.
Anyway, Hanzo is picking up pails of water with his son Dead Son. They meet his wife Dead Wife and his daughter Dead Daughter. Hanzo tells his wife he’s so grateful for her and for their family, which just ensured them dying within the next five minutes.
I do think it’s cute that this movie is trying to have a story and characters. This movie deserves a pat on the head like a little puppy for trying.
In a shocking turn of events, another ninja type Bi-Han (Joe Taslim) emerges from the ether. His cool superpower is that he’s literally cool. He works with ice and cold and it’s only shrinking because of the cold. Bi-Han is also known as Sub-Zero.
Sub-Zero kills Hanzo’s wife and son, but not before they put his baby daughter in a secret hiding place. Darn, and we were just starting to get to know Dead Wife and Dead Son as people.
Sub-Zero and Hanzo engage in some combat to the death. Sub-Zero kills Hanzo. Hanzo vows to return from the dead to avenge his family.
Sub-Zero’s work is done. Now it’s time for some expository text
We learn that there’s a tournament called Mortal Kombat between Earthrealm (assuming that’s us) and the Outworld. Our champions fight their champions. Apparently our champions suck because Earth (I’m not adding Realm because that takes too long) has lost the last nine Mortal Kombat tournaments. If Earth loses the next one, Outworld, led by the evil Shang Tsung (Chin Han), will take over the Earth.
Which presumably means that everything that we spell with a “C” will be changed to a “K”. K?
We need not fear, because we’ve got Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) and it’s his job to gather Earth’s champions, no matter how terrible they may be. It’s easy to identify them because they were born with dragon tattoo or they get a dragon tattoo by killing someone with a dragon tattoo.
Probably. If you have one of those tattoos, that means you’re descended from the great Hanzo Hasashi and are one of Earth’s champions, even if you’re a white girl or a black guy. They’re really cool with diversity.
Let’s meet Earth’s ragtag group of champions. They may not look like much, but with one or more training montages and some inner reflection, they’ll be saving earth just in time for a sequel.
- Cole Young (Lewis Tan)- He’s fights just to keep food on the table for his soon-to-be-dead family. Soon he’ll be fighting for Earth and for tables since you can’t put food on tables if there are no tables because everyone is dead.
- Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee)- She’s not a girl with a dragon tattoo but she can fight because she’s military. With a name like Blade, it’s never a dull moment. Because she’s sharp. Because of her last name.
- Jax (Mechad Brooks)- He’s black. And he can fight. And even though this isn’t a horror movie, you can be sure that Jax won’t die first since it was Hanzo’s dead family that died first. Progress.
- Josh Lawson (Kano)- He’s Australian. And a d*ck. That’s pretty much it.
- Liu Kang (Ludi Lin)- He’s Asian. And fights really well. That’s it.
- Kung Lao (Max Huang)- He’s Lia Kang’s brother. And Asian as well. And has a hat that cuts people up.
Alone, these people aren’t champions, but merely fodder for the Outworld’s collection of killers. Or…kollection of cillers. But if they find their superpower (or arcana) then they might have a chance.
And Earth just might have a chance of surviving…Mortal Kombat.
What Works With Mortal Kombat
- Mortal F*cking Kombat- It’s the only reason you see this movie. Director Simon McQuoid knows why you forked over your money and it’s to see people in color koordinated costumes beat each other to a bloody pulp. Emphasis on bloody. Emphasis on pulp. This movie’s gorier than I expected, and there are some scenes that make you want to see the Raid movies again. They’re that adequate.
What Doesn’t Work With Mortal Kombat
Every scene in which “characters” speak with each other or interact in anyway that doesn’t involve trying to kill each other in the bloodiest way possible. No one who watches this cares about Steve, or Bradley, or Karen or Asian Steve. See, I forgot their names already. Any scene that doesn’t involve fighting is, um, a fatality for the audience.
Get over here and see people in costumes kill each other. Fun for the fanboy family. Mortal Kombat is far from a flawless victory, but you get what you came for and don’t care about the rest.
Noel Penaflor (author) from California on May 01, 2021:
Looking forward to reading it.
Caila Daniels from Chicago on April 30, 2021:
This movie was great and bad, in my opinion! I really want to watch it again actually to make my own review on it soon.