Directed by Simon McQuoid, Mortal Kombat has an interesting legacy when it comes to film and television and this entry, whilst managing to tip the scales in the positive direction, fails to lift the franchise to the heavyweight heights it longs to be at.
As the movie begins, we find ourselves hundreds of years ago where we witness Bi-Han – the man who will one day be known as Sub-Zero, (Joe Taslim), kill the warrior Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his family. The death of Hanzo means that the Earthrealm has lost its mightiest warrior and apparently its mightiest bloodline. Unbeknown to Bi-Han, Hanzo’s baby daughter was hidden away and is rescued and taken to safety by Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano).
In the modern day we learn that the realm of Outworld has defeated Earthrealm in nine of ten deathmatch tournaments called “Mortal Kombat”, if a tenth lost happens Earthrealm will fall. However, an ancient prophecy is uncovered, stating that the “blood of Hanzo Hasashi” will unite a new generation of Earthrealm’s champions to prevent Outworld’s victory.
Evil sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han) deploys his warriors to kill Earthrealms champions who are identifiable by a distinct dragon mark aka the Mortal Kombat logo. Earthrealm’s champions include former MMA champion and Hanzo descendent Cole Young (Lewis Tan), Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs (Mehcad Brooks), Kano (Josh Lawson), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang) and Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) – who does not initially have the dragon mark but is helping anyway!
Shang Tsung’s plan to win the tournament basically centres around killing all the Earthrealm team before the tournament begins. As well as Sub-Zero he employs the talents of Syzoth, Goro (Angus Sampson), Kabal (Damon Herriman voice/Daniel Nelson body), Mileena (Sisi Stringer), Reiko (Nathan Jones), and Nitara (Mel Jarnson) to kill team Earthrealm.
Battles ensue, blood, guts and gore splatter the screen but the further the movie goes the thinner the plot gets.
The standout for the entire movie is Josh Lawson as Kano. Every scene he is in is gold. He pretty much carries the entire first half of the movie and is in desperate need of a prequel movie that explores the life of Kano up to when we meet him. Hiroyuki Sanada does his part when he is present on screen but unfortunately it is not enough, leaving Lawson to squeeze what he can from those around him. Information released since the movie opened has revealed that Lawson adlibbed most of his lines in the movie – this suggests that perhaps the problem was the script. It is a shame the other actors did not follow Lawson’s lead. This may have breathed more life into some of the stilted moments later in the movie.
Mortal Kombat is about the fight scenes though and diehard fans will be happy with the fatalities, catch phrases and special moves that pop up throughout the movie. There are definitely some brutal deaths present and I am guessing some form of “uncut” bluray will deliver even more blood and gore!
Verdict: 6/10. A respectable attempt to lift Mortal Kombat from the B-Movie realm it has been lurking in for decades. Unfortunately, the script and quickness some major plots are dealt with leaves the audiences feeling slightly empty. It almost feels like a big budget TV pilot episode. Yes, the action is good and respectful to its video game roots, but the genre has been taking huge steps over the last twenty years and more is expected nowadays. The ending of the movie does hint at a sequel and I would like to see it, I just hope they have started writing it already and the plot and its development are mapped out on something bigger than the back of a Megadrive case.