Film Review: “Mortal Kombat” (2021)

Is the latest Mortal Kombat film a Flawless Victory or a pre-emptive Fatality?

Chris Salazar

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Back in January and February of 2021 respectively, I wrote about how promising “Mortal Kombat” (2021) looked while also writing about how Mortal Kombat played a major role in my childhood; growing up, I would always play “Mortal Kombat: Trilogy” with my cousins on the Nintendo 64. It’s been nearly 25 years since Mortal Kombat was last seen on the big screen, the last film being the much maligned “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation”. Does the latest Mortal Kombat film result in a flawless victory or a premature cinematic fatality?

While the last 2 Mortal Kombat films had Liu Kang as the main protagonist, the 2021 reboot has an original character named Cole Young (played by Lewis Tan), a washed-up MMA fighter who is being hunted down by Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) in order to prevent a prophecy from taking place. Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) recruits Cole, Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Liu King (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), & Kano (Josh Lawson) to fight for Earthrealm in the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament. Shang Tsung (Chin Han)with the aid of Sub-Zero, Mileena (Sisi Stringer), Reiko, Goro, Kabal, & Nitara, will stop at nothing to prevent the prophecy.

Right off the bat, I knew better than to expect Citizen Kane when it came to this film: this is based off of a video game where the fate of the world is decided by a martial arts tournament. However, those who are unfamiliar with Mortal Kombat might be puzzled by some of the dialogue choices here. Lines such as “Flawless Victory” , “Fatality” , and most of Kabal’s lines might come across as jarring to non-fans in the audience. Granted, this film is a love letter to the fans but, it leans too heavily on fan service.

I also feel like the film has its moments where it took itself a bit too seriously: Cole’s backstory and how he is tied to the world of Mortal Kombat feels generic and uninspired. Lewis Tan is great in the role and if the script was given a punch-up or two and the studio were to loosen its creative grip, Cole Young would’ve been a much better lead character as opposed to an underdog who has to fight for his family, a character we have seen far too many times in a ton of other films. While I…

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Chris Salazar

28 | Fiction Writer | usually writes about anything but, mostly about film