Lewis Tan, Josh Lawson, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Tadanobu Asano, Sisi Stringer, Ludi Lin
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…if you’ve come to see imaginative, well-realised fight scenes that culminate in spectacular moments of splattery gore, and about a million cheeky nods to the video game fandom, then you’ve come to the right place.
Hollywood had its first crack at adapting gory fighting game Mortal Kombat way back in 1995. Directed by Paul WS Anderson (Event Horizon, Resident Evil), the effort was a slick but vapid affair that featured none of the iconic battle-splatter the game was renowned for. It did, however, have a stunning soundtrack that still slaps to this day. Fear Factory, KMFDM and Orbital all on the same album? Hell yeah.
1997 saw the grim dawn of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, a bizarrely cheap-looking, strangely inert mess that missed the mark so hard the series went tits up for decades (although again, great soundtrack). Well, now we have the newest attempt, directed by Aussie Simon McQuoid and while it’s far from a perfect movie, it does feel as if the powers that be finally got a handle on this damn thing.
Mortal Kombat, broadly speaking, is about the ongoing war between Outworld and Earthrealm. The former features a cadre of evil demons and bad arse monsters, the latter overly earnest good guys and awesome martial arts fighters. The story mainly focuses on Cole Young (Lewis Tan), an MMA fighter who is dragged into the whole Kombat kaper thanks to an ancient prophecy, a dragon-shaped birthmark and enough goofy exposition to fill a Stephen King novel.
Still, once the film actually gets going and we meet Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Jax (Mehcad Brooks) and motherflippin’ Aussie gronk Kano (a scene-stealing Josh Lawson) the film begins to deliver modest banter, decent action and stunning gore. For fans who despaired at the lack of the red stuff in previous MK attempts, your ship has come in, because there are four or five jaw-dropping moments in this flick that will have you cackling and fist-pumping like a loon, scaring both your partner and your cats (true story).
The cast are a bit of a mixed bag, with Lawson easily the most memorable, making Kano seem like that dodgy uncle who isn’t invited over for Chrissy dinner anymore. However, Lewis Tan’s Cole is a total wet blanket (a problem of the script more than the performance) and Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) fails to make much of an impression.
Still, this is Mortal Kombat, people, and if you’ve come to see imaginative, well-realised fight scenes that culminate in spectacular moments of splattery gore, and about a million cheeky nods to the video game fandom, then you’ve come to the right place. It’s not a flawless victory but it’s the best version of the material that doesn’t require you to have a controller in your hands.