Mortal Kombat (2021): Movie Review

As an action film, "Mortal Kombat" hits the right notes. As anticipated, its gory, gruesome, and a whole lot of fun. But given its video gaming roots, it had a tendency to explain and do a lot of exposition and be heavily-influenced by it - which could easily please fans of the video game franchise but alienate others who aren't as well-versed in its mythology.
Ever since he was born, MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) has had a peculiar birth mark shaped like a dragon. Unknown to him, the mark is a sign that he is one of the representatives of Earthrealm as one of Earth's fighters in the Mortal Kombat tournament. Outworld's Emperor Shang Tsung (Chin Han), to stop a prophecy from happening and getting an upperhand in the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament, has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), to hunt down Cole and the other of Earth's marked warriors. Fearing for his family's safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) at the direction of Jax (Mehcad Brooks). Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) and Kung Lao (Max Huang) and rogue mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson), to find their arcana - a hidden power within them - in time to save not only his family, but to save Earthrealm from Shang Tsung's rule.
At almost two hours long, the running time of "Mortal Kombat" isn't that surprising given the huge amount of characters (from both good and bad sides) that it had to introduce and develop. In fact, this was our biggest problem with the film. We have a bunch of characters that we barely get to know throughout its runtime as most are given one scene and sometimes even one line to introduce themselves to audiences. Most characters ended up as fillers and even those that are pushed to bigger roles eventually won't have any impact to audiences whatsoever due to the lack of basic understanding of who they are and their backgrounds outside a name and as a cool-looking character. While fans of the video games could justify that they know who these characters are, we believe that most fans will still feel short-changed as the importance of these characters were dulled and rushed. Another thing is that lead character Cole Young, a character created just for the film, wasn't that likable or relatable. The film could have been much better in our opinion if they stuck to historic protagonists within the video game series as the film's leads. The narrative was also just okay also. There were a lot of times that we felt completely lost in its expositions and explanations. For an action film, this was one film that we felt needed our attention 100% of the time and simply missing one conversation could mean missing out on an important detail. As a disclaimer, this comes from us as viewers who aren't as well-versed in the history of the video game franchise so you could also take our opinion with a grain of salt. Put simply, the film's heavy narrative and dependency on barely-developed characters was its downfall. Outside those factors, the film was highly-entertaining. The gore takes a step down compared to the video games but it had a lot of gut-spewing moments that still delighted our sadistic sides. The fight choreograpy was also great employing mostly person to person fighting and CGI limited to very few scenes. Overall, "Mortal Kombat" is acceptable as a whole experience and if you could take it more as a no-nonsense experience, you could find yourself enjoying it more than you could even admit yourself.
Rating: 3 reels

Why you should watch it:
- gory and gruesome fun

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- a bit too complicated and convoluted for our taste

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