Mortal Kombat is yet another Hollywood attempt to create a feature film based on a successful video game franchise. In fact this is not the first time Mortal Kombat has been made into a film as the first attempt was made in 1995. This 2021 version is a sort of re-boot to the series as the original attempt ended in failure. The track record of movies made from video game source has been bad so one can be forgiven for approaching this new Mortal Kombat with apprehension.
Whatever reservations you may have about this quickly disappears as the film opens with an impressive and totally engrossing sequence that introduces two key characters in the franchise, the villainous Bi-Han (later to be Sub Zero) bplayed by Indonesian martial arts star Joe Taslim, and Hanzo Hasashi (aka The Scopion), played by legendary Japanese action star, Hiroyuki Sanada. The beautifully choreographed fights scene here is reminiscent of those that we used to enjoy in chinese and japanese martial arts movies. Unfortunately, the movie kind of peaked too early, as the rest of the film could not match the high standard set up front! Nevertheless, there were still lots of colourful characters and non stop action to keep the viewer entertained for its entire 1 hour 50 minutes duration.
Apart for the high calibre choreography in the fight scenes, we have the benefit of the film having an R (Restricted) rating which means no restraints in the gore and blood spillage as well as profanities. Some may frown upon such juvenile thrills, but honestly that’s what video games has plenty of so matching the mayhem on screen is justifiable. I am not a fan of the video game and hence, do not have any idea how well the movie had adapted the game, plot wise and character wise. I am sure the video game purists will have plenty to moan about, but judging this film purely from a non gamer, I have little to complain. The thin plot is kept simple which is a wise decision as it doesn’t allow the film to slow down and waste time to explain silly things. The characters are rich, and have a sense of humour. The most brutal humour comes from the crude and aggressive mercenary Kano, played by little known Australian Josh Lawson. He gets to deliver lots of killer lines that not only pocks fun at the other characters but also indirectly to the movie itself. The noisy soundtrack also benefits from a heart pounding music score composed by Benjamin Wallfisch. Finally, a word about the special effects. In movies of this nature, this plays a crucial role in making or breaking the movie. Happily the effects here comes across nicely without looking over the top. Ultimately kudos to Mortal Kombat’s first time director Australian film maker, Simon McQuoid for tying everything together and not letting the film fall apart. An impressive first time effort!
As expected the ending delivers enough excuse for continuity while providing a satisfying closure to the main story. I have to admit I was disappointed that there was no big tournament fights at the end, which was hinted at the beginning. Perhaps the next chapter may offer something that may make up for this. In the meantime, I am actually finding myself looking forward to seeing more of this!