20/05/2021

๐ŸŽž️๐Ÿ“ฝ️ Mortal Kombat Movie Review (2021) ๐ŸŽž️๐Ÿ“ฝ️ #MortalKombatMovie #MortalKombat

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The Mortal Kombat franchise is quite the behemoth, a string of games and spin-off titles since the early ‘90s that number over well over a dozen followed by two movies, an animated series and more recently, a collection of short online episodes.

As a more casual fan of the franchise – I like the original game, ‘95 movie and enjoyed a tickle at the most recent game – I was intrigued as to the approach this film would take, especially with the more visceral, over-the-top, recent entries in the videogame series. 

It turns out that this particular incarnation of Mortal Kombat has some really golden moments in terms of fight sequences and nods to its gaming roots but tries to cram too much into its running time and ends up rushing through sequences and dancing between characters in a bid to keep all the razor-edged plates spinning.

The movie opens in 17th century Japan. Bi-Han (a young Sub Zero) attacks and kills Hanzo Hasashi and most of his family during an assault by the Lin Kuei group of assassins. After the brutal fight, Hasashi’s body burns away mysteriously… Fast forward a few hundred years and Cole Young (played by Lewis Tan), a mixed martial artist is fighting - and losing - for a few hundred dollars to support his wife and daughter.

One night, Sub-Zero attacks him and he is saved by Jackson ‘Jax’ Briggs who informs him that he has been chosen to represent Earth in a fight against the Netherrealm, a world full of monsters and dark magic. The rules state that, if a run of ten tournaments is won by Netherrealm, they get to fully invade Earth and to complicate matters further, immortal sorcerer Shang Tsung is trying to kill the ‘Earthers’ before the tournament even starts – so the stakes are high….AND he’s cheating, the little tinker.

Mortal Kombat gets a lot right for fans of the games, there are references galore to characters, moves and even newbie tactics but it’s often at the cost of any kind of subtlety and flow. It can be almost a bit cringe-worthy the way some lines are delivered in direct reference to the gaming roots when a more understated approach would probably have been better all around.

Whilst Cole Young’s character is utilised as an avatar for the viewer, he’s not needed in that regard as the plot is so straightforward that it doesn’t really need to be driven home. The pace of the film also means that the family drama side of his character gets skipped over uber-quickly. I was actually quite glad of this as it’s not really what I’m are here for.

There are a lot of characters to juggle and the main Earthrealm force consists of Cole, Jax, Sonya, Liu Kang, Kung Lau and Kano. The latter acting as the comic relief and whilst a fair few of his lines are amusing, the rate of them is a bit tiring as every word out of his mouth is either a putdown or snide remark and on occasion, the editing can affect the timing of his jokes.

Ah, the editing. As I’ve mentioned, the film is quite pacey – almost too pacey at times. It seems that scenes have been cut, such as a sequence where the characters skydive out of a plane. We see them bicker just before they jump…then we see them walking across the desert, it seems odd to cut out what would have been the most interesting part -  them falling through the sky and landing. It’s like they shaved off a minute or two by removing scene transitions to keep the runtime down.

The highlights are a handful of key fight sequences, mainly at the start and end of the movie. There’s a section in the middle that I can’t really get into without being spoiler-tastic but I can say that after certain powers are unlocked, what could have been a sequence of really tasty, weighty fight sequences seem rushed through to get to the final reel, which was a real shame.

Clearly set up to be a franchise, it would be intriguing to see where the series goes next. It would be great to perhaps focus on a handful of characters and as such give space for more expansive fight sequences to give the characters room to breathe and develop through choreography.

The ending of the movie teases the introduction of another character and I really hope that ‘more, more, more isn’t the direction that the inevitable sequel takes. A sequel that could perhaps be directed by Gareth Evans? I can dream.

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