As summer approaches we are seeing more tent-pole films open up. Recently with Godzilla vs. Kong and now MORTAL KOMBAT!
I remember the original film that came out in 1995 and its sequel. Maybe it’s because I was a kid and always wanted to play the video game (I never got it.) But I thought the movie was awesome. The premise of this original and of the reboot is easy to follow. There is a martial arts tournament between warriors from Earth and the Outworld (mostly bad guys.)
I want to give a quick shout-out to my co-reviewer Abby. As we sat in the theater to watch this she leaned over and told me she had read an article getting her up to speed on the characters. WOW. The nerd in me was SO EXCITED. However, would this film stack up to the nostalgia-fueled memories of the original film and the 1992 game I desperately wanted. We will see.
Onto the film.
We open in 1617 in Japan. A young family is working outside. The father named Hanzo (Sanada) is attacked by Bi-Han (Taslim) in an ambush. We see Bi-Han has special powers using ice. As Hanzo rushes back to protect his family he sees they have been killed by Bi-Han. They fight and he kills the remaining assailants as he dies. We then see Raiden (Asano) take Hanzo’s infant daughter who survived and disappears.
We cut to the present day and learn of the tournament I mention earlier. Shang Tsung (Han) is attempting to have his army win the tournament for the 10th time in a row. This is an arbitrary number but with 10 wins the Outworld would take over Earth. It’s always the last moment or last chance in many of these films. A little overplayed.
We meet our present-day heroes Cole Young (Tan) is an MMA fighter who always fails. Sonya Blade (McNamee) is ex-special forces and journeys to the tournament with her military partner Jax (Brooks.) BI-Han is now known as Sub-Zero and gives chase. The best of this group is Kano (Lawson) he isn’t a good or bad guy. Just in the gray. He only goes to help show them where a training ground is because Sonya offers to pay him. He has wisecracks throughout and elevates boring dialogue and plot.
The positives of this film do outweigh a lackluster plot and characters. The visual effects are excellent and the fight scenes shine. I’d hope so given this film is about a fighting tournament. Kano saves a boring cast which surprised me. The list of starring cast members is long, however not memorable. I hoped for more weight for the characters. We found ourselves not caring who wins or loses the battles. Although Abby loved Sonya Blade I just yelled FINISH HIM!!! (line from the game) throughout. She was annoyed.
This is worth a watch if you’re a fan of the film or game series. If not you’ll find it to be mediocrity at its finest with subpar acting. A short Runtime does help and maybe if they make a sequel they can grow where this film didn’t. 2 stars out of 5
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
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