Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

To say I was excited about Mortal Kombat would be an understatement. I’ve been looking forward to a new film in this universe for a long time but when this was first announced, I have to say I was apprehensive. It seemed to take forever before we saw anything from the film and the trailer was only released in February which is pretty scary when the film was originally set to release in January.

However, we’re finally here. We’ve officially made it. Mortal Kombat is back and it is bloody good fun.

Straight away, be prepared for the fact that this isn’t a Mortal Kombat film in the strictest sense as the tournament itself has yet to begin. Instead, the story of the film follows Outworld as it launches a pre-emptive strike against the warriors of Earthrealm before the tournament begins in an effort to ensure their victory.

Now, while on paper that may sound like a bad idea, to be honest I think it may have been the best decision they could have made for this film because as a result, the film doesn’t get too bogged down on the rules of a tournament (or lack of rules if the 1995 original is anything to go by) and instead can focus on introducing the heroes and villains that are set to centre stage and fight for the fate of humanity.

While many may be put off by the lack of star power on display here, I can assure you that while you may not know the names of many of the cast, you will certainly be familiar with their faces with stars from the likes of Supergirl, The Dark Knight, Deadpool 2, The Wolverine, Thor: Ragnarok and The Raid: Redemption unite in order to bring everyone’s favourite Mortal Kombat characters to life.

As a precursor of what’s to come, Mortal Kombat delivers on everything I could have wanted from a film like this. It doesn’t spend too much time setting up the world or explaining the backstory every character that graces the screen but instead serves as a streamlined experience that should appeal to a new audience while pleasing the hardcore fan base. However, there are a few missed opportunities and a few characters I would have liked to have seen more from.

When it comes to the fight scenes, and let’s be honest that’s why you’re watching a Mortal Kombat film, they are often spectacular and always brutal. Anyone who may have been concerned that they’d likely tone the gore down for a film release will be happy to learn that we have blood, guts and fatalities from the outset. Now the best of the fight scenes may be dominated by Scorpion and Sub-Zero, make no mistake the show stealing performance of the entire film is Josh Lawson’s turn as Kano.

Overall, Mortal Kombat does a good job of being both a standalone film that should please existing fans of the franchise as well as any new comers who may dip their toe in for the first time. Most importantly though, what this film does right is treat the source material with the respect and maturity that it deserves.

by Edward Laing

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