Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: MMA fighter Cole Young seeks out Earth’s greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.
Review: Mortal Kombat (1995) is considered one of the best (if not THE BEST) video game adaptation out there. Granted, the bar isn’t that high as we’re still waiting for that one movie that gets it completely right. Still, the original movie managed to please fans of the game and even with the clunky dialogue, cheesy acting, and a couple of good fighting sequences (my favorite being Liu Kang vs Reptile) we remember it fondly. So when it was announced they were giving MK the old reboot treatment, fans everywhere basically had the same reaction, “I’m excited but will they get it right?” After seeing it this weekend past, I was surprised by MK 2021. Not because it was bad, but because just like the original, it has clunky dialogue, cheesy acting, and a couple of good fighting sequences. And just like the original, I enjoyed it! With a Goro-sized SPOILER ALERT let’s FINISH THIS in three moves:
ROUND 1: FIGHT!
So let’s talk about the best bits first. The opening sequence is pitch perfect and sets a strong foundation for the rest of the film. Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai/Westworld) as Scorpion and Joe Taslim (The Raid/Fast & Furious 6) as Sub-Zero are most definitely the core of this entire thing and their story is the most interesting to follow, which is both a positive and a negative here (we’ll talk more about the negative later on). Their fight sequences are the best as well and I think both actors did a great job especially considering the limited amount of screen time and dialogue they are given.
A couple of my other favourites were Max Huang as Kung Lao and Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl) who got swole as hell to play Jax. Jessica McNamee also made for a believable Sonya Blade, but you know what the most surprising thing here was? Australian actor Josh Lawson as Kano! If you had told me Kano would pull a Drax and steal every scene he was in, or that he would be the one delivering the laughs and charisma for most of the runtime of this movie, I would tell you to GET OUTTA HERE! (said in my best Scorpion voice). Yet, that’s exactly what happened! Lawson managed to bring Kano all the way to the front of the pack, and while there wasn’t a lot of people in the movie theatre, I could hear them all laughing every time he did his thing. So well done Mr Lawson.
The fight sequences, for the most part, are very well done (more on that later) and like I said before, Scorpion vs Sub-Zero was the highlight. But I also enjoyed Sub-Zero vs Jax, Kung Lao vs Nitara, and Sonya Blade vs Kano. Overall, they got it done.
So what didn’t work? Like I said before, both the OG and this reboot have a lot of the same problems. The dialogue is terrible in some places and feels like you’re listening to a first draft, not the actual finish product. The acting is also so-so. I get the feeling not all of the actors did their homework before taking on these characters because it showed. While bad writing is to blame somewhat, if YOU the actor don’t embrace the crazy nature of this world and these characters you’ll never pull it off. This is why Lawson is so good as Kano or why Sub-Zero and Scorpion work while the main character, Cole Young, comes across like a wet biscuit. Lewis Tan has the looks and I loved him in Into the Badlands, but his character Cole, who is basically taking the place of Johnny Cage from the original movie, is not that interesting and his family feels like an extra appendage he just didn’t need.
We also have some shoddy lighting during some badly-edited fight sequences. And speaking of fights, some of them would end abruptly, leaving you with an anti-climactic feeling. Kano vs Sonya Blade comes to mind here. It started out strong but ended with more of a dull thud than a bloody bang. Even the final and arguably most important fight between Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Cole Young had a conclusion that felt somewhat empty of impact. Director Simon McQuoid has zero credits (besides this movie and a video short) on his IMDb page and it might sound mean to say, but his lack of experience shows here.
Overall, Mortal Kombat 2021 lives up to the hype but I still think it would’ve been better if it kept the story focused on Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Their conflict was the best and if they had built Mortal Kombat AROUND these two we could’ve ended up with something truly wondrous (a FLAWLESS VICTORY if you will). Instead, we got a more polished look at what amounted to the same movie from 1995.
Is that a bad thing? Not really, but I do hope going forward they build up their world with sleeker dialogue and more character development (beyond just the cool clothes and weapons) while keeping us entertained with the bloody spectacle of action sequences that made us Mortal Kombat fans in the first place.
Also, more colour please! Leave the washed out, everyone gets the same dull colour scheme with Zack Snyder’s Justice League. I had enough of it there and I REALLY don’t want anymore.
Sommer’s Kombat Score: 6.5 out of 10
For more of my thoughts on the Mortal Kombat reboot you can check out my video review below:
So what was your favourite fight from MK 2021? For more Mortal Kombat you can check out my review of animated film Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge by clicking here. Or for Editor Jules’s review of the original film in his Tournament Fighter Flicks series you can click here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!
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