Let’s be honest. Most of my readers aren’t going to see “Mortal Kombat.” Perhaps you aren’t interested because you don’t connect to the game franchise, or maybe you know enough to know that the bloody violence will be overwhelming. That said, perhaps you are a diehard fan, and I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Whatever group you fall into, I hope you’ll continue reading my thoughts on the latest movie to try to break the video game curse.
When I first heard of the Mortal Kombat movie reboot, I was not excited. I had not played a Mortal Kombat game since the 1990s, when I convinced my naive mother to rent it for me from Blockbuster Video. Thankfully for her, I didn’t enjoy the fighting game. I preferred “Yoshi’s Island” or one of the unnecessary Disney animated games.
Let’s just say I played it safe as a child, and I knew I was doing something wrong when playing Mortal Kombat. That play-it-safe attitude has now dissipated because I’m a big fan of action movies, and I laugh at cartoonish violence.
But “Mortal Kombat” still didn’t have me excited. The trailer took forever to be released, and the film had no big-name stars. Usually, that doesn’t bother me, but it’s already a video game movie, so the expectations are low. Keep them high by throwing a high-profile actor in like Warner Bros. did for “Detective Pikachu.” I watched the trailer with all of these things on my mind, and I was pleasantly surprised. The acting and story were cheesy, but the action looked well-choreographed, and the characters were video game accurate.
I decided then that I wasn’t going to miss this movie, and I’m glad I did. “Mortal Kombat” was fun from beginning to end. I’ll admit that I didn’t follow the story or care too much about the characters, but I was all in for the action sequences.
The opening begins with a scene that is a perfect homage to samurai films with a fantasy twist. In the fight, Hanzo Hasashi (Scorpion) takes down a crew of assassins led by Bi-Han (Subzero). But Subzero is too much for Scorpion to defeat because he possesses ice powers. This sequence impressed me because I could follow the action, and it felt organic to the setting.
Shortly after is a fight I wasn’t able to follow, but I believe that was the point. This scene features MMA fighters, and the intention was that the fight should feel more brutal and chaotic. The movie flips back and forth between these two styles for various fight scenes, and these differing shots primarily work.
Speaking of the fights, this film delivers. If you came to “Mortal Kombat” thinking there might be one or two battles, you were dead wrong. “Mortal Kombat” is chock full of confrontations and, of course, fatalities.
The fatalities were brutal enough to be considered cartoonish, so I found them laughable. That’s not a slam against the film either. I wanted over-the-top violence that always reminded me I was watching a movie. Had the filmmakers gone for a more realistic approach, I think many audiences would be reaching for the popcorn bag to vomit into.
The fights hold this movie together because there’s not much to say about character development or plot details. Both are passable, but I never felt connected to anyone. Yet the actors give it their all. No one appears to be bored or miscast.
I didn’t think I’d like “Mortal Kombat,” but I honestly loved it. If you can accept the movie for its balls-to-the-walls ’90s approach to action filmmaking, then you’ll have a good time. I’m fully committed to seeing a sequel in theaters, and with this pleasant surprise, I’m now ready to see anything the spring movie season throws at me. As Scorpion likes to say, “Get over here!”