Mortal Kombat (1995) Image

Mortal Kombat (1995)

By Alan Ng | April 12, 2021

Moving to the action, Mortal Kombat features one Hollywood fight sequence after another. This makes some sense, as the game is literally one character fighting another and then another. But, while I love action films, it’s hard to pinpoint the various fighting styles; they all look the same. It has does not have much in the way of stakes either, as the violence and gore are tamped down for a friendly Hollywood idea of violence; it feels oddly safe, which is not what one expects or should want from a fighting game adaptation. It’s clear this isn’t the fighting we loved from the video game.

The bright spot of Paul W.S. Anderson’s film is the villains. Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Goro look precisely how they do in the video game, which says how good costuming was in the 90s. From a visual standpoint, I can’t complain much. But we only get a mere glimpse into their supernatural powers and abilities, and that is unsatisfying entirely. When their gruesome and gory finishing moves are actually used, they’re are always blocked or countered. We all want an accurate recreation of the monster’s finishing moves, and thus we are left disappointed.


“The bright spot of Paul W.S. Anderson’s film is the villains.”

Let’s end by discussing the story. I’m less hung up on the plot of Mortal Kombat because, like the game, I’m more interested in the action. It’s like the Force in Star Wars. I don’t care how it actually works. As long as you don’t spend too much time on the narrative and move me from one set piece to the next, I’m good. On paper, the story works somewhat. The film centers on a once-in-a-generation tournament fight to the death. We have two sides: good and evil. Lord Raiden (Christopher Lambert), representing good, wanders the land looking for his fighters. They are Hollywood actor Johnny Cage, military soldier Sonya Blade, lost student Liu Kang, and Art (Kenneth Edwards).

Shang Tsung embodies the forces of darkness: Kano (Trevor Goddard), Scorpion (Chris Casamassa), Sub-Zero (Francois Petit), and Reptile (Keith Cooke). Shang and Raiden fight over the souls of the living and world dominance. Blah, blah, blah… let’s fight.

I’ll say it over and over again. Just because you own the rights to a franchise, any franchise, if you can’t tap into the emotional reasons we love these characters and their stories, save your money. Don’t make the movie until you can get it right. Not to bring Marvel Studios into this, but Iron Man gave birth to the MCU because everyone involved brought Tony Stark to the screen exactly as fans wanted to see him. Anderson fails to do so with his Mortal Kombat, so fans are still waiting for a truly epic feature film based on the property.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Directed: Paul W.S. Anderson

Written: Kevin Droney

Starring: Christopher Lambert, Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto, etc.

Movie score: 3/10

Mortal Kombat Image

"…cannot successfully capture the emotions and feelings that we felt PLAYING THE ORIGINAL GAME!"

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