#REVIEW: Mortal Kombat (2021)

This is another one of those movies where reviews are probably entirely unnecessary, but whatever. Our most current re-up of HBO Max was basically done for this movie and for Godzilla Vs. Kong, and we haven’t watched Godzilla: King of the Monsters yet, so we’ll probably get that one done before I cancel it again. I was kind of surprised at how much I’ve been looking forward to seeing this; I’m not the biggest Mortal Kombat fan out there by any stretch of the imagination, although I have lots of good memories of the first two games. Scorpion was my main in the first game, as he had the easiest special moves to pull off, and I was all about Baraka in the second game, although I could play anybody in a pinch. The first movie was on IU’s movie channel all the time so I watched the hell out of it, and I don’t think I’ve seen whatever sequels there were for it– I think there was at least one, and there might have been a couple.

Anyway, this movie needed to do two things: it needed to look good, and there needed to be good fight choreography. That’s basically it! I get those two things out of a movie called Mortal Kombat, and I’m gonna be happy with it. And I was! There was something weird going on with the backgrounds in some of the scenes, as if the green screening came in a little bit too fuzzy or something, and there was almost a soap opera thing going on at the beginning that makes me wonder what the frame rate was, but in general the effects were good, especially when some of the more outlandish characters like Goro showed up.

And the fight choreography? Chef’s kiss. I have no complaints at all. It’s well-shot, even the fights in darkest areas you can always see who everyone is and what they’re doing, and the movie has a great sense of space and pacing whenever two people are fighting. The two standout fights are not surprising: between Goro and Lewis Tan’s Cole, a character who hasn’t actually appeared in any of the games, and between Sub-Zero and Scorpion. But it’s all solid, and the nods here and there to actual game moves and lines are cheesy but it works. The acting in this movie only had to not be ridiculous; the story, seeing as how it’s kinda stuck with the idea of Mortal Kombat, is only as ridiculous as it has to be and not a whole lot more. I mean, the story and the lore of this series has kind of disappeared up its own ass over the years, and you need to remember that the entire central conflict of the whole umpteen-game series stems from the decision to palette-swap one of the original characters. Everything in Mortal Kombat had to be kool (shut up, I kan’t not do that) before it had to make sense, and the movie more or less feels the same way.

The acting and the plot isn’t getting in the way of the fighting and the costumes and the monsters, is what I’m saying here. And Kano is an absolute Goddamn delight. I want a Kano movie. And I want to go back in time and refilm the entirety of Iron Fist with Lewis Tan as Danny Rand. I wouldn’t risk covid to see this in a theater under any circumstances, but this is pretty much exactly why streaming media exists.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.