Friday, April 23, 2021

Mortal Kombat (2021)

Streaming Services: HBO Max
Movie Name/Year: Mortal Kombat (2021)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: New Line Cinema, NetherRealm Studios, Atomic Monster, Broken Road Productions, Karo Premiere, Universal Pictures International, Warner Bros. Pictures Germany, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Singapore, Warner Bros., HBO Max
Director: Simon McQuoid
Writer: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham, Oren Uziel, Greg Russo, Ed Boon, John Tobias
Actors: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Mehcad Brooks, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Chin Han, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Sisi Stringer, Mel Jarnson, Nathan Jones, Daniel Nelson, Ian Streetz, Yukiko Shinohara, Ren Miyagawa, Mia Hall, Angus Sampson, Damon Herriman
Blurb from IMDb: MMA fighter Cole Young seeks out Earth's greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m so glad I didn’t see this in theaters for my first watch.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing it on the big screen would be a hell of an experience, but I was 100% unable to control my excitement the whole time. I was whooping, and laughing, and making all sorts of noises that would have been unacceptable at the theater.
I get my second vaccine in a couple of days, then I’ll be hitting my local theater for a second viewing.
This right here is the R-rated masterpiece that fans always deserved.
I’ll admit that it’s not perfect. There are a few bits that felt awkward or strangely acted. Like it tried to be campy in those parts but missed the mark. Those moments were noticeable, but not nearly enough to ruin the effect of the entire thing.
Cole Young, the main character of the film – portrayed by Lewis Tan (Sacrifice, Mortal Kombat X: Generations, Iron Fist), has not appeared in any games. He adds an unknown factor, and I’m glad they included him. However, it does mean there’s a bit of an ‘origin story’ feel at times.
Mortal Kombat, like the games, pulled no punches. It was brutal. Fatalities were included, and they were just as insane as they are in the games. There was blood, gore, and death. It was glorious.
The graphics were such an upgrade. Obviously, that was expected. The original film was made in the 90s. Technology has come a long way. Still, it was nice to see that the production company, and creative team, took the flick seriously enough to put together such a gorgeous film.

Any time there was lightning, flames, ice, or any other ability, on screen – it appeared flawlessly. Even Goro looked really realistic.
Most of the actors perfectly fit their characters.
I raved about the images of Sisi Stringer (Bloody Hell, Children of the Corn, Matt Gaffney Must Die) as Mileena before the film came out. She could have used a bit more screen time, and she was great, but she certainly wasn’t the best of them.
Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl, True Blood, A Fall from Grace) as Jax was absolutely perfect. In pictures, I wasn’t sure how well he translated into the character, but in motion he was Jax. There was no one else who could have been more Jax.
Josh Lawson (The Little Death, Long Story Short, Holly Slept Over), also, fully embodied Kano. He added a much-appreciated dose of comedy. Without that, the brutality might have been a bit much. Joe Taslim (Star Trek Beyond, The Raid: Redemption, Fast & Furious 6) did great at making Sub-Zero threatening and terrifying. He had the intimidation aspect down. Max Huang (Police Story: Lockdown, Time Raiders, Sense8) brought Kung Lao to life and humanized him. Huang made the character feel relatable, but still almost untouchable.
I could go on and on about the cast. I wasn’t overly in love with the way Liu Kang was portrayed, but there were no other flaws that I could see.
It was a good film. It honored the feel of the controversial Mortal Kombat series. It didn’t seek to remove that controversy, and it gave fans what we wanted.
It paid complete respect to the games while still bringing a new life to the story. This is what a video game movie should be.
Production companies should take note.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have been giddily anticipating the release of this new Mortal Kombat since I first heard about it. I have been a fan of the franchise for a long time.
While I was lacking gaming consoles in my youth (unless using a friend or relative’s), I did enjoy playing the original Mortal Kombat game when I found it in arcade settings. It was an iconic and controversial game that had fans clamoring for it and parents railing against the graphic violence. When the original movie released in the summer of 1995, just before my senior year of high school, it was the hot ticket in town. I still listen to some of the songs from the soundtrack today.
Of course, that first movie, while satisfying at the time, did have significant room for improvement. I’ve often questioned the casting choice for Lord Raiden. I love Christopher Lambert (Bel Canto, Shadow of the Wolf, The Blacklist), but really? Of course, his signature raspy voice was what likely garnered him the role. He’s still voicing the iconic character in subsequent iterations of the game – most recently Mortal Kombat 11 (2019). I was over the moon when I saw that this new production was getting a more culturally appropriate upgrade with Tadanobu Asano (Battleship, Thor: Ragnarok, Midway) in the electrifying role.
Honestly, hats off to the casting of this movie. They really hit it out of the park with this one. I could prattle on about them forever. I’ll spare you that, though, and hit the highlights.
First, the martial arts talent is off the chart. Both Ludi Lin (Power Rangers, Aquaman, The Ghost Bride) and Max Huang, playing Liu Kang and Kung Lau respectively, are both former members of Jackie Chan’s (Rush Hour, The Foreigner, Iron Mask) stunt team ‘family.’ Their training with Chan was a considerable asset to the film, especially since Huang was able to draw on that training background in order to assist in making the fight choreography better. While I wasn’t able to dig up the information on the whole cast, I can confirm that they, as well as the actors for Sub-Zero, Hanzo Hasashi, and Cole Young all have extensive martial arts backgrounds and perform their own fight scenes and stunts.
Cole Young is an original character introduced by this movie, but I am a huge fan of the actor that plays him already. Lewis Tan caught my attention during Into the Badlands (2015-2019) and Wu Assassins (2019-). He is well-deserving of this role here. While some of the iconic characters from the video game franchise didn’t make it into this movie, I think the reboot benefited from a little bit of ‘fresh blood’ with a new take on the story.

I was also doing fangirl cartwheels internally when I saw that Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin, Helix, The Catcher Was a Spy) was cast here as Hanzo Hasashi. He’s one of my favorite Japanese actors and his range is phenomenal – both dramatically and in action scenes.
As I said, I could ramble forever. Though, I’ll try to reign myself in by switching up here. Let’s talk setting and special effects.
This Mortal Kombat film is said to be the biggest budgeted movie to film in South Australia, and I think they got a lot of bang out of those budget bucks because of the location. The use of the scenery to give a remote and otherworldly feel to the film was amazing. Further, the special effects weren’t too over-the-top. They enhanced the supernatural aspects of the film – such as Raiden’s lightning, Sub Zero’s ice, and Liu Kang’s fire, etc. – without making things cheesy. It’s said that the director wanted to use as little green-screen as possible.
Some might wonder about the well-known brutality of the fatalities involved with the fighting. Mortal Kombat pulled no punches with those. There’s a lot of blood and gore to be had with some of these fights. This film is definitely deserving of its R-rating. Keep the little kids out of the room when you watch this one.
I am seriously impressed that this was Simon McQuoid’s directorial debut. Of course, he did have a great team of producers to back him up – including James Wan (Insidious, Furious 7, Aquaman). I’m definitely looking forward to what he has in store for us in the future, and hope that there is a sequel in the works, at the very least.
For anyone that had any doubts about this new iteration of the beloved game franchise translating to the movie screen, I can assure you that this movie didn’t disappoint at all. I’m not even mad about the characters that were absent from this story – because that leaves room for more stories in the future. The ending here certainly left room for that to happen. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
I have a feeling that this is going to be the next movie to break pandemic box office records, considering the trailer alone has already smashed streaming records. If you have the chance to safely see it on the big screen, I encourage you to do so. Otherwise, HBO Max is an excellent alternative.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 56%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 89%
Metascore – 44/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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