Mortal Kombat (2021)

The long-awaited reboot of the live action adaptation of the popular video game franchise has arrived…and it was totally worth the wait!

Cole Young is an MMA fighter who was a one-time contender but now has been relegated to fighting for a measly pay. When Jax Brooks, a soldier sees Cole, he notices Cole sports a birthmark that resembles a specific marking. Cole’s world is turned upside down when he learns the so-called “birthmark” is a key to a tournament that can determine the fate of the Earth. When he meets Sonya Blade, a former Special Forces veteran, he learns of the tournament known as Mortal Kombat.

Shang Tsung, the leader of Outworld, has decided to break the rules after winning nine tournaments and knowing if they can win a tenth, they can invade Earth. Cole must reluctantly take part and join the likes of fellow warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Kano to protect Earth from Shang Tsung and his warriors, including Sub-Zero, a former master Ninja who possessed the power of frost. However, for Sub-Zero, things are about to change due to an old rivalry that is destined to be revived. Will Cole and the others be able to change the fate and protect Earth or will Shang Tsung win and take over?

26 years after the gold standard was set for video game adaptations with the original Mortal Kombat, a new gold standard has arrived in well, what do you know, the new Mortal Kombat. Director Simon McQuoid makes an excellent feature film directorial debut, with Greg Russo and David Callaham’s script paying a faithful homage to the video game franchise that lives up to its promise upon release.

The cast is excellent here. We get a new character in the form of Cole Young, played by the great Lewis Tan. It comes as no surprise in a way who Cole is but it is still really well executed as we see him go from lowly MMA contender to confident Earthrealm warrior. Jessica McNamee, who resembles Kylie Minogue, makes for a great Sonya Blade who for most of the film, doesn’t have a marking but finds herself fascinated by the tournament and its prophecy. Mehcad Brooks’ Jax doesn’t get his metal arms as a way to make himself stronger but something connected to the story.

Tadanobu Asano makes an excellent Lord Raiden, the mentor to our champions with the duo of Liu Kang and Kung Lao, played respectively by Power Rangers’ Ludi Lin and Jackie Chan Stunt Team member Max Huang as the heroes’ instructors. Lin and Huang are excellent in their roles while Josh Lawson makes for a good Kano, who starts out as an ally of sorts to the heroes. Chin Han makes a Shang Tsung that would make Cary Tagawa proud only this one wants to break the rules in order to take over Earth himself.

The highlight of the film is the rivalry between Sub-Zero and Scorpion, dating back four centuries ago, with an amazing ten-minute opening scene that sets up this classic rivalry. Joe Taslim and Hiroyuki Sanada melds the video game mythology with Japanese cinema style action. Kudos goes out to stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner and fight choreographer Chan Griffin for the action, which meshes the video game mythology and some grounded martial arts moves. As promised, the film does have the fatalities and amps up the gore factor, making Mortal Kombat what it’s known for.

In the end, Mortal Kombat, the 2021 edition, can be set to be the new gold standard as it outdoes the original 1995 adaptation in many ways. The cast is excellent, the story is great, the action is fun, and those fatalities are awesome! Definitely has to be seen!

WFG RATING: A+

A Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema production. Director: Simon McQuoid. Producers: Simon McQuoid, E. Bennett Walsh, James Wan, and Todd Garner. Writers: Greg Russo and David Callaham; story by Garner and Oren Uziel. Cinematography: Germain McMickling. Editing: Dan Lebental and Scott Gray.

Cast: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Tadanobu Asano, Chin Han, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Sisi Stringer, Nathan Jones, Mel Jarnson, Daniel Nelson, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brant.

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