Mortal Kombat has been around for over 20 years now (the first game came out in 1992) and it is still a popular franchise amongst video gamers. I remember the first time I played a Mortal Kombat video game (the first game) like it was yesterday. Ah, I will never forget those brutal fatalities and Scorpion always saying, “GET OVER HERE!”, when he launches the spear out of his hand. The Mortal Kombat franchise has definitely grown and is now more realistic thanks to the latest installment of the game franchise and the birth of the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” web series. But I’m not here to talk about the now, I’m here to talk about the past, and the first film adaptation of the popular video game franchise. I remember when I was little wanting to see this movie badly, and luckily, my uncle had the movie recorded on VHS…feel old yet? It was a thrill for me to watch that movie every time I had the chance. Seeing my favorite characters go to war in brutal, skillful fight scenes was such a sight. Now, it has been almost 20 years since the release of the film and technology has definitely become more advanced. I’ve went back and watched the film since my youth. It’s cheesy, but for the 90’s, it’s a decent film and it still looks a ton better than its sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Let’s examine why Mortal Kombat is a cheesy film that is worth appreciating.
Mortal Kombat‘s plot is very similar to the story of the first video game. Good characters face off against bad characters and as the plot develops the good guys realize that Shang Tsung needs to be taken care of or evil will reign supreme. The majority of the characters in the film are characters from the first game: Liu Kang (played by Robin Shou), Sonya Blade (played by Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), Johnny Cage (played by Linden Ashby), Raiden (played by Christopher Lambert), Scorpion (played by Chris Cassamassa), Sub-Zero (played by Francois Petit), Shang Tsung (played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kano (played by Trevor Goddard). It also features characters that were hidden bosses on the first game (Goro and Reptile) as well as characters from Mortal Kombat 2 (Jax and Kitana). The film also does a decent job of developing the characters and their reason for coming to the island and participating in the tournament, a good example would be Liu Kang (he’s there to avenge his brother’s death). The film is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who has brought another popular video game franchise to life on film, Resident Evil. Anderson does a great job of making the fight scenes good by placing shots in a manner that makes the scene vicious or cool. The fight scenes involving the three ninjas (Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile) are perhaps the best. The actors playing them display a range of fighting styles and talent that it is unbelievable.
The film does feature fatalities, the brutal staple of the Mortal Kombat franchise. The fatalities are brutal, but not enough to turn your head away. There’s no gore, no blood, and no spines being ripped out. If there was, this movie wouldn’t have gone to theaters during its time. Gore is tolerated more now in the present, so maybe a gory Mortal Kombat movie could be tolerated. We may receive one in the near future with Kevin Tancharoen having one in the works along with his “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” web series. It’s gory and it’s brutal, but us Mortal Kombat fans want to see Johnny punch off a man’s head in a movie or Scorpion send the spear through someone and see it. This movie probably can be bought anywhere and is probably very cheap. It could be on Netflix. So give it a shot if you see it and indulge yourself in its cheesiness.