Mortal Kombat (2021) is an extremely adequate film. One that manages to deliver all the fun of watching a person kut someone in half with a hat without getting too bogged down in the interdimensional politics that supposedly explain why someone is kutting someone else in half with a hat.
To give a rough synopsis, a bad wizard from another dimension wants to invade earth. Apparently he’s only allowed to if he wins 10 Mortal Kombats in a row. Mortal Kombat apparently being an inter-dimensional fighting tournament. How many dimensions kompete? It’s not klear. Anyway, the earth dimension is on a losing streak and are about to lose their 10th tournament. For some reason, the bad wizard is too impatient to wait for the next tournament and has decided it would be quicker to just assassinate all of earth’s chosen champions so they lose by default.
Enter audience stand-in Cole Young. He’s got a dragon tattoo qualifying him for one entry to Mortal Kombat, one special power, and unlimited expository conversations. He’s also dull as dishwater. Created specifically for this film, his character lacks the over the top quirks that define playable characters from the games. You could say his special power is worrying about his family but it just feels dull next to laser eyes, saw hats and ice magic.
Luckily the film has plenty of what you actually came for; people knocking chunks out of each other in gruesomely stylish ways. Some of the fight scenes are perhaps a little aggressive in their editing, jumping between shots in rapid succession rather than allowing a static camera to show off the fight choreography and special effects. With so many magic powers involved the fights are cgi heavy but luckily the effects in this film look great, Sub-Zero’s ice powers in particular are a stand out. The fights aren’t shy in referencing the games from signature moves to one liners, Mortal Kombat doesn’t waste an opportunity to go ‘look, it’s just like the bit from the game’.
Ultimately this is quite a forgettable film. It’s not bad and I can’t see it generating any sort of cult appeal in the way that campy so bad they’re good movies do. There is plenty for fans of Mortal Kombat or silly fight scenes to enjoy but there’s not much on offer beyond that. If anything, it has released at the perfect time. There’s not much competition with other new releases, everyone is still a bit bored and looking for things to do on the evenings it’s too cold to sit in a pub garden. Even so the £15 or so quid it costs to use HBO Go for a month (via VPN) or rent it once it’s available on UK services from May 6th does feel a bit steep.
Basically I’ve wasted your time long enough to leave you with the conclusion; if you watched the trailer and thought, ‘yeah I’d watch an hour and fifty minutes of that’ then you’ll have a perfectly pleasant time.
Looking for more fighting game content? Check out why Gav thinks Guilty Gear Strive is 2021’s most important fighting game or Nevi’s review of Street Fighter comics.