Mortal Kombat (2021)

Mortal Kombat
Director: Simon McQuoid
Writer: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham
Based on: the video game
Cast: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Mehcad Brooks, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Chin Han, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Sisi Stringer, Mel Jarnson
Seen on: 22.6.2021

Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is a MMA fighter and has gotten his fair share of beatings – as long as he can earn some money for his family (Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent), he’s happy to do it. What Cole doesn’t know, though, is that he is actually the descendant of a legendary fighter, a champion of the Mortal Kombat, which in turn makes Cole eligible to fight in the next Mortal Kombat, too. Since Earth lost the last nine tournaments against Outworld, another loss would mean that Earth goes to Outworld. Permanently. That’s why Shang Tsun (Chin Han), leader of the Outworld fighters, won’t take any chances and has sent Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) to kill all possible champions before the tournament starts. Next on the list: Cole, who finds himself on the run with Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), trying to figure out his powers.

I was overjoyed to see that Mortal Kombat still got a cinema start after all, but I seriously misjudged the film. I really didn’t expect it to be as bad as it is.

The film poster showing a face in a mask that shows only the eyes, the left side is Scorpion, glowing with fire. The right side is Sub-Zero frosted over with ice.

Look, I make no secret of the fact that I take pleasure in watching bad movies. They can be hugely enjoyable if you are in the right frame of mind. And that’s where things went wrong here. I didn’t expect Mortal Kombat to be good, but I expected it to be entertainingly bad – like the 1995 movie (a childhood favorite of mine that I haven’t seen in many years, so I might be misremembering its quality). That is, a movie that is kind of cheesy and everything, but is still entertaining out of its own power. Mortal Kombat 2021, on the other hand, is a film so bad, I would have needed copious amounts of alcohol while watching it to make it really entertaining, and I just didn’t have any.

The script here is (amont) the worst I have ever seen in a professional and not exactly low-budget production. And it was matched by the performances that had me cringing in my seat most of the time. It’s not just that the one-liners and jokes – of which the film has plenty, obviously trying very hard to be funny – fall apart through the performances and the pacing. The problems go deeper than that.

Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) and Kung Lao (Max Huang) back-to-back in fighiting poses.

The most obvious thing here is that in the film Mortal Kombat that is all about the tournament Mortal Kombat that decides the fate of the earth and all of humanity, we never make it to the tournament itself. I kept waiting for the tournament to start – and just nothing. Also, there is a lot of hubbub about Cole’s ancestry – so much so that I kept waiting for his daughter to factor into the equation somehow – she shares his ancestry, after all. But nada. Apparently she is not worth considering – probably because she’s a girl, only there so Cole has a family he can worry about/be threatened with.

The fight scenes were mostly pretty good. Surprisingly gorey, so if you have a hard time with that, be warned. But other than that, nothing about this film worked for me. In the end, I was pretty bored.

Cole Young (Lewis Tan) boxing in a cage fight.

Summarizing: I’ll stick to the 1995 version, thank you.

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