Movie Review: Mortal Kombat

I was never particularly interested in fighting games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, largely due to not finding having to memorize myriad button combinations particularly appealing. Therefore, on the occasions where I did get roped into playing with a friend, I was one of those people who mostly just mashed buttons in the hopes that something would work. For this latest Mortal Kombat movie, it looks like they found screenwriters who took a similar approach to using their keyboards.

The story follows struggling MMA fighter Cole Young, who discovers he has been chosen as a champion of Earthrealm, and will have to fight along with the other champions against the forces of Outworld in the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament. If Earth loses this time, it will be their 10th consecutive loss, and Outworld will be able to invade the realm. Of course, the bad guys don’t particularly like following the rules, so they have already been picking off Earth’s champions to ensure their victory.

The opening sequence showcasing Cole’s ancestors gets things off to a promising start, but they go downhill rapidly after that. No one is very well-developed, mostly relying on name recognition among fans of the video games in lieu of characterization, while the dialog is okay at best, and occasionally cringe-inducing. The cast does what they can with what they’re given, but it’s very hard to care about any of it, and even more than a little bit boring. Things liven up when the gory fighting picks up during the last 30 minutes, suggesting that the filmmakers at least have some concept of what audiences would expect from a movie like this, but made the willful decision to ignore that for the previous 60+. Oh and, SPOILER ALERT, the titular tournament never even happens, instead being promised in the hoped-for sequel. ★★ – Sean Farrell

Available on DVD.

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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