Video games are the most challenging cinematic adaptation to get right. No matter what the finished product is, it's never going to appease everyone. Mortal Kombat has been the guilty pleasure exception to this rule, with two 90s movies filled with nostalgia for diehard fans. Going into this latest adaptation, audiences were ready to see an updated look to a fan-favorite franchise. We follow a new character Cole Young (Lewis Tan), who stumbles into a high-stakes battle for the enter universe. Now, if there's anything that doesn't excite you about that, you might as well stop reading.
The thing about "Mortal Kombat" is that if you don't know what you're getting into, it's not for you. As someone who's never been a diehard fan of the games, I went into this with mild expectations. As the credits rolled on my virtual screening link, my mild expectations were mainly met. The bloody nonstop carnage delivers in just about every way imaginable and is an all-out blast. Fans with cheer at every brutal fatality and fans of action cinema will appreciate the choreography. Every single fight in the film plays out like a dance, thanks to director Simon McQuoid, who clearly understands what the fans are looking for. Akin to the greatness of international kung-fu cinema, the action delivers in every way.
Where the film unfortunately falters is the absolute thinly written and underdeveloped characters. The highlights are the dynamic and relationship of both Sub-Zero and Scorpion and how they become what we know. Since the film focuses on Tan as Young, we don't get enough interesting story beats. It's hard to tell if it's the screenplay or just Tan as a performer, but I never believed him. Cole is so boring as a character being nothing more than a "father wanting to do the right thing" that he's just hard to root for. Even as a simple audience conduit, his line readings are atrociously stiff. As he was trying to understand this world, it was just hard not to laugh.
Thankfully amongst the supporting cast, they all make the most of somewhat familiar archetypes. Actors like Joe Taslim (Sub-Zero) and Hiroyuki Sanada (Scorpion) are the best of the bunch. Making the most of their familiar stories, they're thoroughly engaging to watch on screen. Whereas other actors like Mechad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Jessica McNamee, and Ludi Lin make the most of their cliched characters. Is there much characterization to any of them? No, but watching them fight is pretty entertaining. Though the feeling I can't seem to shake is that I didn't care for any of them.
It's a rather unfortunate detail simply because the fights throughout are just so impressive. Though once the credits rolled on this latest action endeavor, I didn't have any excitement for a sequel. Certainly not an out-and-out bad film; it just doesn't have much to offer besides cool fights. There's a part of me that wonders if seeing the film on the big screen would've left me with a stronger reaction. What's undeniable is how "Mortal Kombat" clearly accomplishes what it sets out to do. Its goal of a nostalgia trip for diehard fans will be more than enough for those who want it. The unfortunate thing is that it's never as effective or as fun as it could be. If you're a fan in any sense of the word about this franchise, you'll get everything you want. If there's any part of you that doesn't care about the mythos, you might want to avoid this one.
Watch The Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBa_aHwCbC4