My love for cinema truly became apparent to me in my early teen years, but my love of the Mortal Kombat video games started at the age of five.
I remember with perfect accuracy my parents’ hesitancy to get the game for my older brother Adam and I, but they eventually gave in to our wishes (provided we got along). The following years resulted in many hours playing MK 1-4 with friends (most notably my best friend Greg) on button mashing, face punching, gut kicking, head decapitating, limb ripping, organ exploding bliss. That is not to mention the 1995 original film (with a theme song that never grows old) that still delights today, despite a sequel that proved to be one of the worst films mankind has ever known.
This brings us to the Mortal Kombat reboot, which brings in many of the characters we (by which I mean the fans) know. The one exception is MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan). His is one avatar we are most likely meant to relate to, as he is still trying to provide for his family. Meanwhile, the ever evil Shang Tsung (Chin Han), the Emperor of Outworld, is set on breaking the rules of the tournament of Mortal Kombat, sending his assassins to kill those on Earth who bear the dragon mark on them (such as Cole). This mark is achieved by either being more with it, or killing someone with the mark. Only those with the mark have a chance of fighting against Outworld, for they can summon their inner “magic power” (I forget the term used).
That is all I will talk about story wise, because, as was the case with the recent Godzilla vs. Kong, the story is not what the audience focuses on. In the case of Mortal Kombat, it is the cast of characters and having them duke it out with each other. A few of these characters include such known entities as former army vets Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) and Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), Kano (Josh Lawson), and Elder God Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano). That does not even account for those on the side of Shang Tsung, such as Mileena (Sisi Stringer), Reiko (Nathan Jones), and the deadliest assassin of all, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim).
Parents, if a rated R movie is based off a game that was responsible for creating the ratings guide of video games, then you know it is not for kids. There is no sexual content (minus some of the dialogue), but there is more than enough swearing. Not to mention the violence. Lots of it.
Yet that is what makes the movie what it is. There are just the right amount of “Fatalities” in the film that I don’t want to spoil, but at least two or so did have my inner child geeking out.
Truly, I don’t know if kids today still play the Mortal Kombat games (I know they are out there, since I at least play it on my phone.) I don’t know if I could approach this film in a neutral way, since my inner child has spent too much time on the source material. I am able to say that there are more than enough plot points that don’t always make sense at the time (such as the absence of Raiden during key points). Some of the acting is passable but not great (I will still always think of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung from the original). Also, though the appearance of a certain four armed monster is always a wonder to see, the effects were not entirely the best (though I know all CGI can’t be perfect).
In other words, the film is far from a flawless victory, but it had enough in it to have me satisfied.