Mortal Kombat: Film Review

Mortal Kombat

I have never played any of the Mortal Kombat video games or seen any of the previous movies so I went into this reboot completely cold, and readers, I was not a fan.

The set up – Outworld has defeated Earthrealm in nine out of ten death-match tournaments known as Mortal Kombat. One more victory and Outworld will gain control over Earth forever and its leader, soul-eating sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han), will enslave the entire human race. To ensure a win, Tsung sends his one of his warriors, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), to kill all the “chosen ones” on Earth, people who bear the dragon mark, signifying that they are destined to be the champions who fight for the planet.

Enter Cole Young (Lewis Tan), a former professional MMA fighter who has had the dragon mark since birth. After Sub-Zero tracks him down, fellow champion Jax Briggs (Mehcad Brooks) and his partner Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) save him and bring him to Lord Raiden’s temple, where he can train to fight in the tournament with other champions including Kano (Josh Lawson), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), and Kung Lao (Max Huang).

The original video game caused controversy back in 1992 for its depiction of extreme violence and director Simon McQuoid has remained loyal to the film’s source material in that regard. This film is bloody, gory, and certainly not for the squeamish. If you can’t stand seeing tons of blood, heads being squished, limbs being removed and much worse, then this is definitely not one for you.

The hand-to-hand combat and stunt choreography seemed promising at first, with a super slick face-off starring Hiroyuki Sanada appearing in the prologue, and there were some cool-looking moments in the first half, but towards the end, it is basically one relentless sequence of fights and they all merge into one and I stopped paying attention to them properly. I had reached saturation point! It doesn’t help that the latter sequence was clearly all done in a studio with green screen and was bogged down by digital effects.

As you might expect, a film like this doesn’t have an amazing screenplay or characters that feel particularly well-rounded. Nobody goes into a video game adaptation expecting those things, but more interesting characters and better acting would have been welcome. Tan, the lead of the movie and the audience’s eyes into this world, is incredibly bland and dull, as are Lin and Huang. McNamee and Brooks have a smidge more individuality to them, while Lawson has so much personality – to make up for the lack of it elsewhere – that he’s actually pretty annoying. He is a loud, obnoxious, rude and offensive Australian mercenary, but because he’s the only actor given entertaining and witty dialogue, he basically stole every scene.

This reboot has got a B-movie vibe and feels like a cheap cash-in. If you’re after a mindless action flick, this will probably still satisfy, but it’s squarely aimed at fans of the video game franchise.

Available to rent at home from Thursday 6th May

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


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