Story

Mortal Kombat 2021 is a martial arts fantasy film based on the video game and a reboot of the Mortal Kombat film franchise. The main story follows Cole Young. He is a struggling MMA fighter that learns he is one of the champions of Earth Realm. He teams up with other champions of EarthEarth and must prepare for the Mortal Kombat tournament. They must also fight off the Outworld fighters trying to kill Earth Realm’s champions to gain an advantage and conquer Earth.

Full thoughts and Review of Mortal Kombat 2021

Back in 1995, I loved everything about Mortal Kombat, the fighting, the violence, just about everything the franchise had to offer. The appeal had my attention in a vice grip of violence. So when a movie got announced, I couldn’t wait to see it in theaters. While I did, and I remember enjoying that movie, looking back at it, this wasn’t what I expected since the film was rated PG-13. Don’t get me wrong, the 1995 Mortal Kombat does have a charm, but it didn’t capture the video games’ level of violence I expected in this movie. Right now, I’d say the film is a product of its time. A lackluster sequel came out in 1997, and nothing followed Mortal Kombat in film for over twenty years. Finally, a reboot happened, and Mortal Kombat 2021 is a rated R version that looked to capture the violent spirit of the video game. The movie does the video game Justice to the franchise’s violence, but it comes at costs to everything else in the film.

The story was alright but had a better B story in the film than the Main Story. The film focused mainly on the Earth Realm champion fighters that band together to stop the Outworld Champion fighters from killing them before the next tournament and quickly taking over the Earth. It’s a familiar story that I could expect from a Mortal Kombat game. It also gives the viewer a sense of the what’s and who’s of this film series. However, the B story is better and might be the best part of the film. Following Hanzo Hasashi and his quest for revenge against Bi-Han, a Lin Kuei ninja responsible for freezing and killing Hanzo’s family. Hanzo and Bi-Han shortly after are revealed as Scorpion and Sub-Zero, respectively. Scorpion swears revenge for the massacre of his family against Sub-Zero. Story B works best as a story because of the character’s history, not in the film but the games that Mortal Kombat fans and maybe some movie-goers can get behind. These two are mortal enemies, either in the film story or if two people select them in the games constantly. Therefore, the tale of revenge works well for Mortal Kombat.  

Cole Young is a failing MMA fighter that is a new character introduced in this film that isn’t from the video games. His primary purpose looks to be the bridge character of the movie for the audience. I don’t see why this character needed to be written in this film. If you needed a character put into a movie to explain to the audience what Mortal Kombat is, why not use any of the already 70+ fighters established in the series. If you wanted to use a human character to get people into this world, what was wrong with Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Jax, even Curtis Stryker? Any one of these characters would work well as the main characters bringing you into this world. Cole was too bland and generic for me to get behind. Even the twist that explains Cole’s reason for being in the tournament isn’t enough for me to care about this character. He had a purpose, but it’s drowned out with I need to save my family purpose that seems mute, especially when the world is in danger. I considered him the create a fighter of this film, a character that someone makes if the option is available to the player to represent themselves into the game.

The other characters are good, and the actor’s captured the fighters’ spirits and traits, and abilities from the games. Raiden oversees the Earth Realm. The champions are represented by Jax, Cole, Kano, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao. At the same time, Outworld fighters are Mileena, Mitrana, Reiko, and Kabal, and led by Shang Tsung, try to gain an edge by killing the champions and winning the tenth tournament with ease. Following the video game plot of Mortal Kombat II, as well as the 1995 Mortal Kombat film. They are also establishing the reasons for the fighting behind Mortal Kombat. I’m ok with the mix of fighters and the choice for the characters, but notable video game characters, like Liu Kang and Kung Lao, felt pushed aside for Cole, Sonya, Kano, and Jax. Not that I have a problem with them in the main story, as they were fine, and a side note, I thought Kano was great in this movie. It’s like having a Super Mario Bros. Movie (not the 1993 film) where the focus is on Toad, and Mario and Luigi are the side characters. Although I’m aware that Mortal Kombat is the first in a possible five-film series, I’m hoping that the writers will see the error in putting a bland fighter in charge and movie familiar fighters to fans of the series up to the main story.  

The violence is in the film is rated R, and it is used well. The gore is stylized and glorified, but that’s what I expect in a Mortal Kombat movie. I loved the fighting that went on throughout the film. The fight choreography is excellent and gives a feel of watching a video game play out in real life. When the fights weren’t working for me, was when multiple fights and fighters happened at once. There weren’t awful, and maybe it’s the inner Mortal Kombat video game fan that only likes the one-on-one fighting that went on. The best fighters are Scorpion and Sub Zero. The opening fight is easily the best example of a well-done violent choreograph fight done well.  

One remarkable aspect that got old fast is the amount of video game references that the movie made with the game. There’s nothing wrong with that, and some references and easter eggs are inserted well and hidden cleverly. But you get those moments when a character says “Flawless Victory” or “Fatality” that it feels like he said it, he said the thing in the game. I’m not against doing this in a movie, but there comes the point where you can do this subtly and not make it required to find and know all of the easter eggs and references if you aren’t familiar with the games. It also can take away the symbolism and meaning that filmmakers want to put into this movie that an audience might miss in a film.

Summarized thoughts and review of Mortal Kombat 2021

Mortal Kombat is definite the movie I wish I got back in 1995. This film isn’t without flaws, and I don’t think people familiar with the series will like this movie. The addition of Cole as a bridge character to the story was unnecessary and added nothing overall. The story is fair, and I felt the B story fight and revenge tale of Scorpion and Sub-Zero was better than A Story. A good mix of familiar and unfamiliar characters, but I question why certain main characters of Mortal Kombat aren’t featured more than lesser-known characters. The action and fights are outstanding and well worth watching the film. It will be interesting to see where the film goes from here since there are at least four movies planned to depend on the success of this movie.

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