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Mortal Kombat (2021) – Good Fights, Head Smooshes, and Lots of Exposition

April 27, 2021
Upcoming Mortal Kombat Movie Gets R Rating - GameSpot

Quick Thoughts: Grade – B- – The Simon McQuoid directed reboot brings a welcome dose of head smooshes, errant knife throws, and fights that end with people being split in half. However, the copious setup and expository dialogue keep it from being something special.

The latest reboot of Mortal Kombat focuses on several chosen fighters trying to prevent an apocalypse that will destroy earth. Their goal is to stop Shang Tsung (Chin Han), the ruler of Outworld from winning a 10th Mortal Kombat tournament in a row. The 10th victory will allow Outworld to invade earth, enslave humanity, and turn it into a gross place that features lots of statues, and endless arid landscapes (filmed in Australia, the location shoots add nice production value to the film). Understandably, Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), the protector of earth, and Cole Young (Lewis Tan), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Kano (Josh Lawson), Kung Lao (Max Huang) and Jax (Mehcad Brooks) don’t want this to happen, so they team up, partake in several training montages, and eventually engage in bloody battles with Outworld’s champions. 

The majority of the press surrounding the reboot focuses on the R-rated violence and super choreographed brawls that showcase how hard the actors worked to get prepped for the film. While the fights do deliver some fun fatalities, it seems like the majority of the attention was  focused on the fights and blood, and not on a cohesive story. To be fair, there is lots of story (maybe too much), but most of it is explained by characters who have to do some gnarly expository drops throughout the 100-minute film. Basically, in a film about a fighting tournament, there is a lot of talking about the tournament, and no actual event. It was a gutsy choice by writer Greg Russo to have the actual tournament take place in the not yet green-lit sequel, and hopefully with the film pulling in $20+ million in its domestic opening, the world will be able to see a proper Mortal Kombat.

The best part about Mortal Kombat is that it provides a showcase for Joe Taslim (The Night Comes for Us, The Raid), Lewis Tan (Wu Assassins, Into the Badlands), Jessica McNamee (The Meg), Josh Lawson (House of Lies), Mehcad Brooks (True Blood, Supergirl), Ludi Lin (Power Rangers) and Max Huang (Skiptrace, Bleeding Steel). They are likable actors who look the part, and trained incredibly hard to make the fights more believable (it’s nice seeing the actors do most of the stunts themselves). If anything comes out of Mortal Kombat, it’s that people check out The Night Comes for Us and The Raid, two action classics that feature Joe Taslim, and need more love. 

Final thoughts: Mortal Kombat is worth watching, it just doesn’t have enough personality to make it be anything more than a fun action film.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    April 28, 2021 7:43 pm

    The best errant knife throw since My Spy. 🙂

  2. May 2, 2021 7:21 pm

    Thanks for the review. Hopefully I can watch this before our HBOmax expires tomorrow!

    • May 2, 2021 7:42 pm

      Welcome! I wish it was a better movie, but there are still some neat moments that make it worthwhile.

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