MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan), accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage-or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung (Chin Han) has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) at the direction of Jax (Mehcad Brooks), a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang) and rogue mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson), as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana-the immense power from within his soul-in time to save not…Written by Warner Bros.
It’s safe to say that Mortal Kombat (1995) is the best video game adaptation ever released in cinema, and now its 2021 remake/reboot holds that crown. However, it’s important to notate that the bar set for such an achievement is embarrassingly low, but at least the standard is being raised for more films to come in the future. With high expectations going in, this new vision of Mortal Kombat (2021) may not be a perfect homerun, but is for sure tons of fun that will leave you anxious for more sequels.
It was a very powerful idea to open the film focusing on two of the franchise’s most popular characters, Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Sub–Zero (Joe Taslim). There was an excellent job of world-building and setting the tone for what all fans or casual audience members would be gearing up for. The set design looked real, the costumes felt authentic, and the cinematography was beautiful with bright vibrant colors to compliment the overall vibe. Immediately your body is consumed with a nice warm feeling of satisfaction with the comfort of knowing that the source material is being taken seriously. So much attention to detail is being displayed and as a fan of the franchise myself, I was overjoyed. To top it off, the fighting was razor-sharp, and the score to supplement it took it all to the next level of entertainment. These two warriors were handled with great care, and I couldn’t be happier.
For the most part, all of the remaining characters were treated with great love and respect. Even characters that never piqued my interest, I now have a newfound respect for. So that goes to show how well they were depicted in this feature. I cared and wanted them to succeed in their mission to the end.
The overall story and plot were easy to follow as well, and it would be hard to imagine it flying over anyone’s head even if they’ve never heard of this title before. Bad guys want to invade earth for nefarious reasons. Yes, we have seen that a million times in the past but not in the vein of Mortal Kombat, and again it works exceptionally well here. What helps get this point across is the role of Shang Tsung (Chin Han). Even though he’s evil there’s a respect level about his character that can’t be ignored and that’s to get the job done. He doesn’t waste time, and he uses logic to his advantage to accomplish his goal. I can’t do anything but applaud that.
While it’s clear that the actors portraying Scorpion and Sub-Zero have had their fair share of physicality in previous films, everyone else can’t match them, but still end up pulling their weight with the fighting choreography. Every character gets at least one brief moment to shine and you’re left satisfied, to say the least. There’s also a clear hierarchy of power and skill level that’s very apparent between the characters, which is necessary to maintain stakes as the film progresses.
What’s also impressive is the explanation of supernatural powers that the characters end up possessing. Fireballs and lasers shooting from someone’s eyes may not come across as realistic, but the exposition in this film to explain it was as easy to understand as green meaning “go” at a stoplight. Suspending your disbelief to enjoy yourself was a breeze. On top of that, the characters’ moves and fatalities were a delight to see. As I was watching I actually said to myself, “Wow! They actually did that! I remember that move from the games!” This happened multiple times throughout, and I was nothing short of giddy. The filmmakers actually succeeded in pulling it off, and it worked without coming across as trite, banal, or corny. And speaking about the level of corniness, this film has its fair share of it, but it doesn’t matter because it worked and left me smiling. The tone had a great balance to it, taking itself seriously but also knowing when to relax and have a bit more fun.
There are still a few things that rubbed me the wrong way, and that’s when it comes to the acting. While it was fair with some characters, it was awful for others. Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Shang Tsung, and Mileena had the best performances, while others didn’t have the same energy. It was passable to a degree, but to be honest the acting coming from Cole Young (Lewis Tan) was awful! It’s very disappointing too, because across the board that is one aspect that makes the original film far more superior than this reboot. The level of acting from Lewis Tan came across as bad or even worse than the original Power Rangers show. Yes, it was that cringy, unfortunately. It’s beyond me why he was chosen for the role, with much more talented actors in the field, but maybe that will be a mystery that will never be discovered.
The overall story was a surprise as well with how the sequence of events carried out. While I expected a Mortal Kombat tournament, this journey of characters told a story that takes place right before that expected event. If this was a way to have audience members longing for more content it worked, and I’m very excited.
There are more details that can be hashed out as far as triumphs and disappointments in this film, but they are minor and hard to disclose without getting into spoilers. However, I’m proud of how the final product turned out, and I’m sure fans of the franchise will be too. The only thing left to say about the inevitable sequel that’s sure to come is it needs to hurry up and GET OVER HERE!