Mortal Kombat (2021) Review



Mortal Kombat has been described as a violent mess which I think is unfair as there is a lot to enjoy with some amazing Fatalities and nods to the games. Any flaws like certain characters not being in it can be fixed in the potential sequels so just enjoy it for the fun escapism that it is.

Plot: MMA fighter Cole Young seeks out Earth’s greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.

Review: I used to love Mortal Kombat back in the 90‘s; I’ve only ever played the first few games so forgive me if my knowledge of the lore and some characters isn’t quite up to spec.

This new iteration of the classic video game franchise has been getting very poor reviews by the majority of critics but I’m not entirely sure why. It has its flaws which I’ll get to in a minute but this delivers the action goods as far as I’m concerned.

Those complaining about the lack of Johnny Cage… watch the film first before getting upset and we’ll leave it at that.

I enjoyed the 1995 film which was a product of the time but how can you not love Christopher Lambert as Raiden and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung? I still prefer Tagawa over Chin Han who has taken over the role as he could easily bring menace to any character and just embodied Shang Tsung.

Mortal Kombat 2021 makes the most of its R rating with some glorious fatalities which are straight out of the game for the most part. It’s one of the goriest films I’ve seen for some time and the regular fight scenes are impressive. You can see everything that’s going on with clear camera movements and impressive visual effects. Goro is fully CG this time and although he doesn’t look amazing I’ve seen worse; he doesn’t have a huge part but he has a satisfying showdown with Cole (Lewis Tan).

Speaking of Cole, he’s not an especially interesting character but Lewis Tan makes him sympathetic and he looks great in the action scenes. I think what most people dislike about this movie is the lack of characterization or an emotional core… but it’s Mortal Kombat. The game is literally about people fighting otherworldly beings in a fantasy setting so this movie follows that template.

Anyone who follows the action genre has known for years what a total badass Joe Taslim is on screen; from his roles in Warrior to The Swordsman, The Raid and The Night Comes for Us he has proven time and time again he is one of the most charismatic stars in the action genre today. It’s great to see him in such a prominent role as Bi-Han AKA Sub Zero and as expected he makes for a truly hateful antagonist.

I do wish we had a few more scenes between Sub Zero and Scorpion but what we get is awesome enough to satiate fans.

The film could be accused of taking itself a little too seriously considering the silliness of it all but there is still plenty of levity courtesy of Kano (Josh Lawson) who has some choice one liners and really he steals the show. I enjoy his banter with Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) who is very appealing yet tough as nails.

The music is suitably epic with choirs and even an update of the classic theme so it all works well with the plentiful action scenes.

What’s interesting is that there isn’t actually a tournament in this movie which may put some off but this feels more like a prequel setting it all up for the future. As I said there is no shortage of fights so I’m not sure what else fans would want.

Overall, Mortal Kombat isn’t exactly a flawless victory but it is for the most part a successful reboot of the franchise and promises more characters in the future. Joe Taslim has admitted he has signed on for 4 more features if this is a success so hopefully we can see Baraka (as he was always my favourite character) in the sequels. I also would like to see some Babalities as they were always hilarious.