The Mortal Kombat trailer is here and it is glorious!
Here are my thoughts on the trailer for the 2021 reboot.
Ever since I was 5 years old, Mortal Kombat has been a major part of my life. I watched both films, played all the games, and even watched Defenders of The Realm every Saturday morning. I was lucky to have cousins that were cool enough to invite me to play Mortal Kombat: Trilogy on Nintendo 64 every summer and I also have fond memories of running off the school bus, booking it to my house, rushing through my homework, and turning on my Gamecube to Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. I had some middling expectations leading up to the debut of the trailer for the 2021 reboot because up until recently, video game-based films have not had a very strong track record. However, once the trailer dropped, all of that changed.
First, I would like to start by saying something I’m probably going to reiterate: From what I saw, it shows how much the cast and crew seriously poured their heart and soul into this film which is something that I don’t say very often. The costume designers really stepped up their game (no pun intended) with the design of the film’s characters. Liu Kang (played by Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), & Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) all look like they literally walked out of the game. While Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa will always be Shang Tsung to me, Ng Chin Han looks like a very strong fit for the role. In a matter of fact, everyone looks they’re putting their all into this. I am also really interested to see what they do with Lewis Tan’s Cole Young: theories suggest that he could either be another Sub-zero or related to Scorpion in some way.
Excellent casting aside, The rest of the film looks incredibly promising: Blood, guts, amazing costume design, and at a time like this, some damn good AAPI representation. When I saw Marvel’s Black Panther back in 2018, I said to myself: “I hope that a Mortal Kombat reboot happens and becomes the Asian equivalent to Black Panther.” While Hollywood has (in some ways) improved on representation by having a diverse cast for its films, it still has a lot of work to do with its AAPI representation. So far, Mortal Kombat (2021) looks like an absolute improvement: The roles of Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Raiden are no longer whitewashed like they were in the previous films from the late 90s. I hope that this film becomes empowering for those in the AAPI community like 2018's Crazy Rich Asians was or how Black Panther was for the Black Community.
Aside from representation, I’d like to note about this trailer overall is that it is very telling that first-time director Simon McQuoid, Writer Greg Russo, & Producer Todd Garner, as well as the cast and the rest of the crew, have been listening to Mortal Kombat fans while also trying to take some creative license with the material. I am extremely happy to see that Scorpion & Sub-Zero will not be sidelined or wasted as they were with the previous films. That was my main issue with the original films: while I absolutely loved the first one, Mortal Kombat’s two flagship characters added almost nothing to the overall story and as for Annihilation, they were basically shoehorned. I’m glad to also see both Hiroyuki Sanada and Joe Taslim in these roles as well. I loved Sanada in both The Wolverine & Avengers: Endgame and Taslim in HBO/Cinemax’s Warrior.
My enthusiasm for this film has skyrocketed since the trailer for the film dropped and the month of April cannot get here fast enough. The amount of blood spilling throughout, the attention to detail on the characters and their design, & even some incredibly impressive moments such as Sub-Zero making an icy blood dagger out of Scorpion, Goro appearing, & Liu Kang’s fiery dragon making an appearance. Hell, I could even hear a reworking of that 90’s techno theme song being teased at one point. I am very lucky to be (as of writing this) living in a state where movie theaters are open: call me a hipster, boomer, old-fashioned, etc but, I feel like this warrants a theatrical experience. Without a doubt, I will be seeing this film in IMAX on opening day.
Mortal Kombat is set to be released in theaters, IMAX, and HBO Max on April 23rd