Movie Review: Mortal Kombat


DATE: APRIL 23, 2021

Films based on video games have always been a struggling genre. It never caught on to mainstream moviegoers and received poor reception from fans of the game it was adapted from. Unlike the films based on the current popular superhero genre, earlier video game-based films were criticized for lack of accuracy to the source material and dated special effects. However, in the last decade, films such as Rampage, Detective Pikachu, and Sonic, the genre has somewhat improved in terms of the films now having bigger budgets, better graphics for the special effects, and being closer to the source material for fans to enjoy. Now it can only get better with the genre’s newest film based on one of the popular video games from the 90s, Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat begins in Osaka, Japan with the opening scene showing Hanzo Hasashi, also known as Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), gardening with his wife and son. Hanzo’s wife and oldest son go inside their home to check on their infant daughter who is crying, while Hanzo goes to get fresh water. As his wife and son are consoling the baby girl, the two hear a scream from a distance and without hesitation she hides her baby so she won’t be heard or seen. Suddenly, Hanzo’s mortal enemy, Bihan, also known as Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) appears. Meanwhile, Hanzo hears a loud terrified scream coming from his wife and immediately runs to her. As the devastated Hanzo grieves over his wife and son who were both tragically frozen to death, he sees his rival ninja clan, the Lin Kuei, about to attack him. Hanzo brutally kills all of the Lin Kuei ninjas until Bihan is the last one standing. Hanzo walks up to his foe fueled with hate and anger ready to take his revenge but unfortunately for him he is slain by Bihan. Suddenly, a powerful lightning strike hits the ground and the God of Thunder, Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), appears only to find Hanzo’s infant daughter, who is the last survivor of the massacre. He takes the child and disappears into a flash of lightning.

Centuries later, martial arts fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is seen fighting in a cage match, and unfortunately loses, but is comforted by his daughter. As Cole and his daughter are about to leave, Jax Briggs (Mehcad Brooks) who watched him during his match, strikes up a conversation with Cole about his strange birthmark. Cole and his daughter are next seen at a shop where it strangely begins to snow in July. Cole realizes that the ninja controlling the weather is Sub-Zero who then begins to make it hail. Jax immediately gets Cole and his daughter into his car explaining that he is being hunted by the fighters of Outworld because he was chosen as one of the fighters to participate in the annual Mortal Kombat to defend the Earth.

Mortal Kombat is an overall good adaption of a popular video game saga. It has promising potential, but doesn’t fully develop its huge roster of characters. It’s just as violent as its gaming counterpart and delivers on the gory fatalities for long time Mortal Kombat fans. While first entry is different from canon lore, it does tease a better potential sequel that could turn into a franchise over time.