#REVIEW: “MORTAL KOMBAT”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
MMA Fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is the kind of fighter who takes any match if money involved. When a mysterious assassin targets him, Cole escapes and finds himself thrust into a world of warriors, fighters and adversaries all training to compete in a tournament called Mortal Kombat.
With a movie like MORTAL KOMBAT, you immediately lower your expectations. You are not going to be watching an Oscar-worthy globetrotting epic filled with nuanced characters and emotional performances. No, when you sit down with something like this, you expect to see multiple characters – human or otherwise – laying waste to each other while battling to the death. You expect to see various forms of Martial Arts on display and characters doing outrageous things that once only existed in video games. For fans of the legendary series of games and its solidly-entertaining 1995 film adaptation (the less said about the sequel, the better), you will be positively buzzing through this Film’s Third Act. The level of brutal violence has been raised considerably, allowing the Filmmakers to add in the style of gratuitously-obnoxious fatality scenes the series became so well known for. It becomes delightfully vicious quickly. And in all seriousness, it is pretty fun to see these characters come to life and beat the living hell out of each other.
Sadly, all of those moments come at the tail end of two long-winded Acts that spell out everything wrong with MORTAL KOMBAT. The Film is set-up in a way that uses Cole as a conduit for the audience, introducing many of the players and the idea of the tournament itself. Once the Film positively exhausts itself doing that, it layers in one training scene after the other, up until it finally decides to let the characters battle it out in video game friendly environments. While the structure and expectedly horrendous dialogue make it challenging to appreciate, the Film never even gets to the titular tournament. It simply ends on a moment that promises to let anyone who survives come back for the sequel in order to compete. Yes, you read that right – MORTAL KOMBAT is essentially a prequel to the main event we were assuming this Film would contain. It makes for a positively disappointing discovery, and one that is only made worse by the sped-up, overly-edited fight sequences and uneven CGI that cannot compete with the practical effects.
I was ridiculously-excited for MORTAL KOMBAT and was let down even with the right level of expectations. Why did the Filmmakers tease- out the rivalry between fan favourites Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) and Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), and then do barely anything with it? Why is nihilistic psychopath Kano (Josh Lawson) more compelling and entertaining than anyone else? Do we really need explanations for super powers when we have already understood the Film’s ridiculous premise? I feel like I am not alone asking these questions. Hopefully the sequel more than makes up for all of these shortcomings and more. Otherwise, why bother?
Warner Bros. Canada release MORTAL KOMBAT in select theatres and Premium Video-On-Demand.
*Please ensure you exercise caution in observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in-theatre.*