Mortal Kombat (2021)
|Released:||23 April 2021|
|Studio:||New Line Cinema|
|Rating:||Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.|
From New Line Cinema comes the explosive new cinematic adventure “Mortal Kombat,” inspired by the blockbuster video game franchise, which most recently enjoyed the most successful video game launch in its history, Mortal Kombat 11. The film is helmed by award-winning Australian commercial filmmaker Simon McQuoid, marking his feature directorial debut, and produced by James Wan (“The Conjuring” universe films, “Aquaman,”), Todd Garner (“Into the Storm,” “Tag”), McQuoid and E. Bennett Walsh (“Men in Black: International,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”).
In “Mortal Kombat,” MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld's Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family's safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, 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, Kung Lao, and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul—in time to save not only his family but to stop Outworld once and for all?
The diverse international cast reflects the global nature of the brand, with talent spanning the worlds of film, television, and martial arts. The ensemble includes Lewis Tan (“Deadpool 2,” Netflix’s “Wu Assassins”) as Cole Young; Jessica McNamee (“The Meg”) as Sonya Blade; Josh Lawson (“Bombshell”) as Kano; Tadanobu Asano (“Midway”) as Lord Raiden; Mehcad Brooks (TV’s “Supergirl”) as Jackson “Jax” Bridges; Ludi Lin (“Aquaman”) as Liu Kang; with Chin Han (“Skyscraper”) as Shang Tsung; Joe Taslim (“Star Trek Beyond”) as Bi-Han and Sub-Zero; and Hiroyuki Sanada (“Skyscraper”) as Hanzo Hasashi and Scorpion. Also featured are Max Huang as Kung Lao; Sisi Stringer as Mileena; Matilda Kimber as Emily Young; and Laura Brent as Allison Young.
McQuoid directed from a screenplay by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham (“Wonder Woman 1984”), from a story by Oren Uziel (“Mortal Kombat: Rebirth”) and Russo, based on the videogame created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Michael Clear, Jeremy Stein, and Larry Kasanoff served as executive producers.
Bringing the hugely popular property to the big screen, McQuoid led a team of Australian and U.S. filmmakers, including director of photography Germain McMicking (“True Detective,” “Top of the Lake: China Girl”), production designer Naaman Marshall (“Underwater,” “Servant”), editors Dan Lebental (“Spider-Man: Far From Home”) and Scott Gray (“Top of the Lake,” “Daffodils”), visual effect supervisor Chris Godfrey (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and costume designer Cappi Ireland (“Lion,” “The Rover”). The music is by Benjamin Wallfisch (“Blade Runner 2049,” the “IT” films).
New Line Cinema Presents an Atomic Monster/Broken Road Production, “Mortal Kombat.” The film is set for release nationwide on April 16, 2021, in theaters and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Mortal Kombat images are © New Line Cinema. All Rights Reserved.
Mortal Kombat Theatrical Review
It has been almost thirty years since Midway Games introduced Mortal Kombat to the world of video games, first as an arcade game, then as a personal home video game (currently on its 11th version), and eventually branching out to comic books, animated shows, and live-action feature films. The first feature film, premiering in 1995, is not only considered to be the best in the Mortal Kombat franchise but also as one of the best live-action film adaptations of a video game ever. Sadly, the 1997 sequel did not have the same amount of success so future films were scrapped; that is until Warner Bros. decided to "reinvent" the film. The new version will premiere this week in US theaters and on the HBOMax streaming service.
In 1600's Asia the Lin-Kuei clan attacks their rivals, the Shirai Ryu ninjas. Their leader Bi-Han (Joe Taslim; Fast & Furious 6) kills Hanzo Hasashi's (Hiroyuki Sanada; The Wolverine) wife and son before defeating Hanzo himself. However, Bi-Han is unaware that Hanzo's baby daughter is hidden away and is taken to safety by Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano; Thor: Ragnarock). Four centuries later, Cole Young (Lewis Tan; Deadpool 2) is a down-and-out MME fighter just trying to earn a living.
After his latest fight, Cole is visited by Jax (Mehcad Brooks; True Blood) who follows Cole and his family and is there to rescue them when Bi-Han/SubZero arrives and tries to kill them. Jax tells Cole to find Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee; The Meg), who explains to Cole the ancient meaning behind his unusual birthmark. They then team with Kano (Josh Lawson; The Eleven O'Clock) to find Raiden's temple so they can train for the tournament. However, Raiden's Enemy, Shang Tsung (Chin Han; Skyscraper), and his team of supernatural villains vow to destroy "the chosen ones" before the tournament has begun.
The cast is made up of lesser-known actors who all had supporting roles in some blockbuster movies. Tan shows off his Martial Arts skills and manages to offer some emotions as the main character who discovers his ancestors while trying to keep his wife and daughter alive. McNamee is the bad-ass former special ops soldier with a brain to back it up. If Lawson's character was meant to be obnoxiously annoying, then he nailed the persona on the head. Sanada and Taslim embrace just enough anger to make their fight scenes believable.
Mortal Kombat's cinematography is excellent, showcasing some stunning visuals. The fight choreography is as well done as that seen in the John Wick series and most of the computer-generated graphics are pretty good. However, there are moments here and there that it becomes obvious some stunts and graphics are not real. The most unfortunate part of the movie is the story. The video game (at least the original) is centered on the "chosen ones" fighting in the tournament to save the Earthrealm. This version of the film barely touches upon the impending tournament and deals more with trying to create the team's backstory. Of course, this leaves the ending open to a sequel (please lord, no!).
Fans of the video game will find much to love about Mortal Kombat including the various fight sequences showcasing copious amounts of blood and gore. For the average filmgoer though, there is enough to dislike about the movie. It is too long, slow at some points, and leaves the viewer with a sense of abandonment and emptiness by the end. While I appreciate the backstory, writers Greg Russo and Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984) and Director Simon McQuoid (making his feature film directorial debut) didn't need to drag it out as long as they did but if they didn't they wouldn't have had a long enough movie for a feature film nor a built-in segway to a sequel.
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