Mortal Kombat (2021) – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Mortal Kombat – Prophecy of a Fighter: Fatality of Story

Art is defined in many forms.  From words to visuals, the blend in our imagination can make things unexpected seem so real.  From one form to another, translations can be a fickle thing.  The art of one medium is grand, but another can seem foreign by design.  In this review, I look at an adaption that takes a famed video game property and, once again, bring it to the big screen.  Dancing a fine line of being faithful but telling a story, its results are a mix bag.  Mortal Kombat is filled with potential, but it is far from flawless.

When his world is turned upside down, an ex-MMA fighter must join Earth’s elite to defend against the strength of Outworld.  The aspect of any adaptation is in its balance, and the filmmakers attempt to balance between two different fanbases.  On the surface, the film’s foundation is built upon aspects of the Mortal Kombat lore.  Pulling from various iteration, it uses these concepts to create a story that meshes various genres (drama/fantasy/action) through a central character.  In the first part, we are introduced to a historical feud, plot monologue, expositional conversational elements and main players on each side (Earth and Outworld forces).  Centering all of this is the character of Cole Young (Lewis Tan).  He is the typical ‘down on his luck’ main character with an unknown past.  Through predictable circumstances, he encounters Jax (Mechad Brooks) and Sonya Blade (Jessica McNames).  Outside of the opening fight scenes, the first act is a slew of boring scenes filled with forced conversational exposition, comical relief and over-the-top action.  Everything is drowned out with an attempt to be overly dramatic, leaving out the strength of the lore.  After another chance encounter, the group must embark on a journey to find a temple.  This leads our characters to the desert, and the second part.

As Cole comes across new characters (Liu Kang, Raiden, etc.), the uninspiring dramatic element are pushed aside to focus more on the game’s general roots.  Through some fun comical banter and over-the-top action sequences, we ironically get better character building.  The fervor that builds between Earth and Outworld’s fighters is genuine, creating raw tension that drives a believable factor to the fantastical.  Through some convenient plot twist, the iconography of the game is put on full display.  This leads to a barrage of unpredictable sequences filled with gore, fight moves and ultimate techniques.  When faced with the ultimate choice, Cole is faced with a path of prophecy.  This leads into the final part of the film.  As the fantastical centers course, it elevates the action closer to the game’s lore.  Even with fun situational encounters, it comes at the expense of terrible dialogue.  With Cole in a fight for his life, everything comes full circle through the typical heroic climax.  Mortal Kombat stays faithful to its roots, but stumbles through inconsistent storytelling.  Even with its flaws, there is fun to be had.  If you are fans of the games, this is one for you.  This is available on HBOMax for a time, but it would be fun in the theaters for the right price.   

Full Score – 3 out of 5 (Theater Discount)

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