Despite managing to entertain both fans of the franchise and those unfamiliar with the source material, Mortal Kombat is still harmed by laughable dialogue and subpar acting.
Most films based on video games are absolutely terrible. This statement doesn’t intend to be a criticism or a thought-provoking remark. Instead, it’s simply an undeniable fact. Usually, the problem with this type of movies is that they have to please both the fans of the games and general avid movie-goers who may not know anything about the source material, making the process of creating these films dauntingly difficult. In addition, films based on fighting titles are even more awful. Surprisingly enough, Mortal Kombat isn’t the subpar movie it could have been. It isn’t remarkably good either, but at least it manages to entertain both fans of the franchise and those who aren’t familiar with the games.
At the beginning of the film, all the main protagonists are presented in quick succession. First, we have Liu Kang, a Shaolin fighter who has just returned from America and seeks revenge against Shan Tsung for killing his brother. Immediately after that, we meet Sonya Blade, a soldier from the U.S. Special Forces who is looking for Kano, a criminal lord who has recently killed her partner. Finally, we meet Johnny Cage, a terrible actor who also happens to be a great martial artist. Although he’s a really popular Hollywood movie star, most people consider him a fake and he’s willing to do anything to prove them wrong. Even when the latter is an egotistical womanizer who’s constantly acting in a reckless manner, he is used as comic relief and definitely succeeds at it.
As these are the most powerful warriors on Earth, Shun Tsang encourages them to get on a medieval ship so they can get to a remote island and participate in a tournament known as Mortal Kombat. This evil sorcerer has warriors of his own and together they represent the realm of the Outworld. Allegedly, the Outworld has won nine Mortal Kombat tournaments and if they win at least one more, they will be entitled to rule our planet. Thankfully, Raiden (also known as the God of Thunder) appears and together with Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage they represent the Order of the Light at the upcoming deadly event. Once all the main protagonists get to the aforementioned island, we meet the antagonists (including Kano, Reptile, Prince Goro, Sub-Zero and Scorpion) and fights start taking place.
Soon enough myriad references to the video games start being made. Of course, it’s great that most of the characters from the games are featured as after all, they are an important part of the franchise. The problem is the use of various one-liners which are repeated ad nauseam. Catch phrases like: “fatality,” “flawless victory,” “get over here,” “come here,” “get down here” and “finish him” are uttered over and over. It’s like the audience is constantly being reminded of the fact that this is a film based on a fighting game.
Special effects on the other hand, haven’t aged very well, but fortunately, this isn’t a significant issue. Mainly because they suit the fast-paced, over-the-top fight sequences quite well. Still, the fights don’t blend very well with the rest of the action. While playing a game in the form of a tournament is quite suitable, doing the same for the plot of a film not only is woefully inadequate, but it also feels lazy. As a consequence, we meet the two contenders, a fight between them takes place, the obvious winner is announced and then the process is repeated a couple of times until the final credits roll. Furthermore, there are some other flaws like the overly silly sense of humor, subpar acting and the fact that some fights are so ridiculous that by the end, they become extremely dull, long and unexciting.
Mortal Kombat is actually a quite entertaining film, but multiple issues will put a barrier on your enjoyment. In the end though, there’s one unforgivable inconsistency. The people involved in this movie managed to explain every character’s main driving force in a very meticulous way, but they failed to answer one simple question: why is Mortal Kombat spelled with a K? Well, maybe in the sequel.