Film Review – Mortal Kombat (2021)

Adapting a video game into a film, television show or anything else across the moving image world is a hard task. Just ask the countless artists and filmmakers that have tried. Don’t get us wrong: some have done a decent job in bringing a “64-bit” experience into a fully-fledged, jumping, flying, exciting realistic version.  Rampage, for example, brought us a mad concept and ran with it in spades; the first Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie wasn’t awful, nor was the 2018 Alicia Vikander reboot; while last year’s Sonic The Hedgehog, despite its horrid original design and delays, brought the effervescent blue ball of lighting to screens brilliantly, with a Jim Carrey trump card for extra security.

It is, as many would suggest, a fool’s errand to attempt such a thing, but director Simon McQuoid and producer James Wan, amongst others, have decided to give it another bash by following the Lara Croft route and returning to an already established film “franchise” with a no-holds-barred adaptation of Mortal Kombat. Sorry, all together- MORTAL KOMMMMBBBAAATTT. Ignoring the 1995 film that launched Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Hollywood career which later saw him tackle Resident Evil and Monster Hunter and its horrendous 1997 sequel, Kombat 2.0 is bloodier, gorier, harsher and more bruising than its predecessors and for the most part that’s not a bad thing. The hint is in the name, of course, but rather than tone the proceedings down for the PG-13 crowd, it has stayed closer to the source material – with 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11 its guiding light – and brought the game to life, warts and blood and all.

Fans have already got a kick out of seeing their favourite characters – Kano, Sonya Blade, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Goro et al – come back to life alongside brand new Cole Young (Lewis Tan) who is our guide through the insanity. Director McQuoid said of the film that “blood is family” and while they try to bring that mantra to the film’s core themes, it’s the real stuff that is arguably the biggest character of the film. It is everywhere so if that’s your bag then you’re in the right shop, but everything else on offer isn’t much of a satisfying meal. Sure, you get what you pay for and maybe that’s all most of its audience wants, but you trudge through one Kombat to another, they get duller as you go, becoming a lifeless mess so much so you hope your controller dies and the game resets. In video games, you usually find things getting better until the Big Boss arrives. In Mortal Kombat, sadly, despite its best intentions and a few flashes of awesomeness, you won’t stick around to complete the trophy runs. They never got Super Mario Bros this wrong. Oh, wait…

★★


Action | Australian, 2020 | 18 | Video On Demand | 6th May 2021 (UK) | Warner Bros Pictures | Dir.Simon McQuoid | Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada