Mortal Kombat (2021) is a playful throwback to the days of “bad” video game movies, and proof that even those formulas could work.
Mortal Kombat (2021) Synopsis
Cole Young is a down-and-out ex MMA champion born with a strange birthmark on his chest. After his family and him are savagely attacked by the ice-magic wielding Sub-Zero, Cole learns about Mortal Kombat, a harsh, supernatural tournament that decides rulership of the human world i.e. Earthrealm. Eventually, he also discovers his true lineage, and why his destiny is intertwined with that of Sub-Zero.
As is well-known, the earliest video game movies were awful. Truly awful.
This was made worse by how several 90s producers chose to adapt fighting games for the big screen. Instead of adapting story-rich sagas from RPG games, they opted for Double Dragon, Street Fighter, etc. I.E. games for which the plot is but a loose, often absurd premise.
Perhaps they believed such premises could work the same way for movies. As in, when functioning no more than as an excuse to serve up brutal action.
Interestingly, though, many such disasters are nowadays considered as cult classics within some circles, and not necessarily in a “it’s so bad, it’s good” way. I don’t know, perhaps it has to do with a certain sense of … abandonment? Wild, unapologetic fun? The likes of saying to the audience, are you seriously here for a story? Screw it! OTP action is all that matters!
I admit to having a fondness for these cheesy classics. Which was why I thoroughly enjoyed Mortal Kombat last night.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Simon McQuoid’s adaptation has the sort of absurd sets/costumes, stilted acting, or hysteria that plagued the older VGMs. The whole show is pretty well-acted with (mostly) muted sets. It’s also obvious that the cast is deeply relishing their roles. Josh Lawson and Chin Han are exceptional with their villainous flavours.
What really thrilled me was how the Mortal Kombat (2021) was all about fun, for fans and non-fans of the franchise alike. It’s gory, it’s brutal, it’s rudely humourous throughout as well.
Beyond a point, I didn’t even care anymore about the story, or any of that lineage, vendetta business going on. I just crave the next fight and the next fatality.
On the latter, have to say they just get better and better. I nearly clapped when Liu Kang demonstrated why he will be the new fire god.
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