I don’t know a dang thing about the Mortal Kombat universe at large but I do know that I like seeing people with superhuman powers beat each other into bloody pulps. While the fist-fighting flick may not be a flawless victory, Simon McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat (2021) is, without a doubt, the R-rated film adaptation fans have been waiting for since the game first dominated arcade floors.
From a screenplay written by Dave Callaham (Godzilla, 2014), Oren Uziel (The Cloverfield Paradox), and Greg Russo (Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City), Mortal Kombat features a roster of rad performances including martial arts master Joe Taslim (The Raid) as the ice-cold villain Sub-Zero, Lewis Tan (Deadpool 2) as franchise newcomer Cole Young, Jessica McNamee (The Loved Ones), as military team leader Sonya Blade, Mehcad Brooks (A Fall From Grace) as the bionic badass Jax, Josh Lawson (Bombshell) as the ruthless mercenary Kano, Ludi Lin (Aquaman) as the fireball-throwing Liu Kang, Max Huang (Chinese Zodiac) as the razor-sharp Kung Lao, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We haven’t even gotten to (arguably) the film’s biggest attraction or any of the soul-sucking baddies.
Mortal Kombat (2021) is the perfect entry point for anyone unfamiliar with the games or the previous films. It never takes for granted that you might not know anything about the world, it’s rules, or even what a “Mortal Kombat” really is. TLDR; It’s an interdimensional fighting tournament between our world and the “Outworld”. The balance of these two worlds is determined by the winner of Mortal Kombat and have lost the previous 9 tournaments, our world is now in threat of being overtaken by the cruel gods that rule the Outworld. Fighters are chosen from birth to represent their respective world, signified by a pretty cool-looking birthmark.
Cole Young is a failing UFC fighter and loving father, but his life gets turned upside down when a masked figure with the ability to turn water into razor-sharp ice shards appears out of thin air to kill him. After narrowly avoiding an icy assassination, Cole is brought into the world of Mortal Kombat with the help of Jax and Sonya Blade, and a foul-mouthed prison that Sonya Blade has chained up in her living room. He’s a hoot. The group eventually meets up with Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Lord Raiden (God of Lighting and protector of the Earth Realm) where they learn about the tenuous balance between both worlds, and their training really begins.
The highlight of the Mortal Kombat games and films has always been the hand-to-hand combat and Mortal Kombat (2021) delivers! It’s not an understatement to say that violence (and I’m talking brutal, over-the-top violence) is a key component in the Mortal Kombat universe. I recently sat down to chat with producer Todd Garner and even he admitted that if they filmed a straight adaptation of what is shown in the video games, there’s no way it would ever get past the censor board. The world of Mortal Kombat is a blood-soaked battlefield and Mortal Kombat (2021) does its best to ensure the ground is properly saturated.
Gorehounds looking for an audacious display of jaw-dropping fatalities will not be disappointed, including one death, in particular, that immediately secured a spot on my Best Kills of 2021 list! The world-building is a little shaky but only because the film it bold enough to establish itself as the first installment of what will hopefully be a new franchise. The trouble is that Mortal Kombat comes pre-packaged with an entire universe of characters and established rules, and watching the film try to juggle all those components can be a little frustrating- especially in regard to each character’s unique abilities. But I never asked questions when I sat down to play the game, I just wanted to see my favourite character stand victorious atop a mountain of their enemies. And if that’s all you’re also looking for in Mortal Kombat (2021), you’ll find it very easy to look past its shortcomings and relish in its sick & twisted fight sequences.
“Gorehounds looking for an audacious display of jaw-dropping fatalities will not be disappointed…”
Simon McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, is now playing in theatres. What did you think of this blood-splattered bare-knuckle boxing match from beyond? Did those BRUTAL fatalities live up to your expectations? Share your thoughts with us in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.