After waiting years for another live-action Mortal Kombat film, we finally got one, but was it worth it? Well, yes and no. Mortal Kombat was fun, but there’s just things that did bothered me with the film. Let’s get straight into the review.
The film follows a character named Cole Young (Lewis Tan); who’s a MMA fighter and a decedent of Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada); was selected to be apart of the Mortal Kombat tournament. Shang Tsung (Chin Han) does not want Outworld to win the upcoming tournament, so he decides to get his fighters to go hunt and kill the fighters of Earthrealm. Cole teams up with other characters such as: Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), and Kano (Josh Lawson), in search of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) to train for what’s to come.
Saving my thoughts on the story, what the film gets slightly right was the action. I enjoyed the many references, and some of the fights during the film, especially whenever Bi-Han/Sub-Zero and Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion fought. I thought some of the fights were enjoyable, especially when they reference the games when they were doing their signature attacks.
Sadly, in some the fights there would be too many cuts, which I thought didn’t work. A lot of actors in the films are actual martial artists, and I think the film didn’t let their skills shine with the distracting cuts. The fights were still enjoyable, even if it wasn’t too great.
The visuals were alright. I like how awesome Sub-Zero looked when he was fighting and using his powers, just a total badass. Outworld being weirdly gray was silly. Another thing was when Nitara (Elissa Cadwell) showed up to fight because there was some weird green screen behind her. Also, not a visual thing, but what was the point of having Shang Tsung have some weird voice modulator early in the film and just disappears mid speech? Again, the film didn’t look all bad, but you can notice things right away.
The cast for the film was good. My favorite characters in the film was Kung Lao (Max Huang), Kano, Bi-Han, and Hanzo. Josh Lawson must’ve free-balled because he was too hilarious as Kano, and he stole the film for me. Some lines given to the actors were also pretty bad, but it’s not their fault.
As an MK fan, I loved the many references in the film, and I smiled a lot. Seeing fatalities; mentioning or showing characters like Nightwolf, Kotal Kahn, Bo’ Rai Cho; Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) spamming the sweep kick on Kano (Josh Lawson), and more. If you’re a fan of the MK franchise, you’ll enjoy all the things they’ve sprinkled in the film.
Now, what held the film back for me was the story. I mean sure, this is setting up for the sequels, but there’s was a lot of the decisions that just didn’t work. What’s is crazy is that the film starts off strong in the beginning with Bi-Han and Hanzo Hasashi as if the film was made by two different people. Plus, I think if Kano carried this film on his back. Don’t get me wrong I had fun with the film, but as an MK fan who’s been a fan of the lore, there’s just many things I can’t let slide.
The way to get powers in the film, which is called arcana, I thought it both worked and it didn’t. For example, it worked for Liu Kang to explain how he got his fire powers, but didn’t work when Jax got brand new arms from the arcana. Also, with Cole being a descendant of Hanzo was cool, but what the hell was that armor?! You would have thought that they were setting him up to have the powers of Scorpion or something, but nope, just some weird strong literal plot armor that gives him an insane amount of strength to kill Goro (Angus Sampson)!
Speaking of killing, sure, death don’t really matter when it comes to MK because they usually come back, but damn, how in the hell you kill Kung Lao (Max Huang)?! Liu Kang literally just stands there and watched his soul get sucked, now that was just ridiculous. I feel like we deserved more Kung Lao and Liu Kang interactions, but I guess not.
When I saw this film in theaters, I left pumped, but the more I thought about it the more I realized a lot of things just didn’t nail the landing. Since there’s going to be sequels, I’m sure it’ll be a lot better because the potential is there, and there’s so much MK lore already that they can pull from. I can tell how passionate the people were when it came to making this film, so I’m sure the franchise’s future is bright. I think if it wasn’t for me being an hopeful MK fan, I would’ve hated the film because you can tell that this was more for fans who know the story’s lore vs a casual who’ll be like “what the hell is this?”.
For a prequel type film, it was just an alright popcorn flick, but you’ll have some fun watching it.
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