Review: Mortal Kombat’s reboot lacks substance

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Mortal Kombat is a 2021 American martial arts fantasy film based on the video game franchise of the same name and a reboot of the Mortal Kombat film series.

Sven Kline, Contributor

A fresh reboot of the fighting-action arcade game Mortal Kombat hit the big screen April 16 in theaters and homes.

The Midway Games and NetherRealms franchise returned with a new director, Simon McQuoid, to revive the series and set a new bar that the predecessor failed to reach 25 years ago. The film is set in the original series and seeks to rekindle original fans’ excitement for the beloved characters and origin stories.

The film opens in medieval Japan with Hiroyuki Sanada portraying Hanzo Hasashi, also known as Scorpion, as the last member of his clan is hunted down. Joe Taslim portrays Bi-Han, also known as Sub-Zero. When Hanzo is killed, one of his children is saved by Earthrealm’s guardian thunder god, Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), who safeguard’s Hanzo’s bloodline till present day with main protagonist Cole Young (Lewis Tan).

Learning about an ancient tournament called Mortal Kombat, Young chooses to journey alongside veteran special forces Sonya Blade, played by Jessica McNamee, and Jax, played by Mehcad Brooks. Together, they solve the mystery surrounding Mortal Kombat and save their universe from Outworld’s corrupt god, Shang Tsung.

Th is leads to a training sequence and a series of near-death escapes. Th e fi lm includes each character undertaking individual enemies in duels to the death before the climactic ending fi ght between Young, reincarnated Scorpion, and Sub-Zero. Th ere is also a final scene teasing Luke Cage leaving audiences to speculate another film in the works.

Th e film had potential to settle the age-old confusion of the purpose of Mortal Kombat and the importance of the dragon marks given to each fighter. It also could’ve focused on the undeveloped story between Scorpion and Sub-Zero and explored their relationship, but it rather focused on the importance of training.

h e true takeaways of the film for fans are the familiar characters, their fights, and the “fatalities” they unleash upon their opponents. A fatality is a finishing move coined by the franchise in which a character kills their opponent in an excessively gory fashion that is achievable through a combo. Notorious catch phrases are included in the film such as Scorpion’s “Come Here!” or “Flawless Victory,” from Liu Kang, but aside from that the story lacks substance. It makes the film seem like a cash-grab attempt from Warner Bros.

At best, this film delivers filler ambient media to play while focusing on other things at home. It’s not worth investing your time and attention, except for bloody action scenes. I rate this film a solid three out of five stars.

Sven Kline may be reached at [email protected]; @SvenKline on Twitter.