Mortal Kombat movie satisfies fans of violent game

The phrase “Mortal Kombat” evokes a visceral response from fans of the video game known for its gruesome and over-the-top violence.

Not only did the director of the latest Mortal Kombat movie have to overcome the inherent problems of translating the thin plot of a video game into an enjoyable cinematic experience, but they also had to do it in a way that would please fans that expect to see ridiculously bloody fatality scenes the game is known for featuring.

The other big issue that the producers of the movie had to deal with is whether it can appeal to audiences that are hungry for entertainment during the current drought of new movie releases. I’m not a huge fan of the Mortal Kombat game or franchise so I had few expectations, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy parts of the movie.

Director Simon McQuoid begins the movie by taking the audience to 17th Century Japan, providing a backstory for the characters of Hanzo Hasashi and Bi-Han,(played by Hiroyuki Sanada and Joe Taslim, respectively) which will later be known in the story as characters Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Hanzo lives an idyllic life with his family in the mountains of Japan but it’s swiftly interrupted by Bi-Han who kills Hanzo’s family and then Hanzo himself.

The story implies that the future of Earth hangs in the balance of the Mortal Kombat tournament in which adversarial characters from the Earthrealm and the Outworld engage in fight-to-death combat. If heroes from Earth lose this showdown, the planet will fall to the savage monsters of Outworld. It’s an outlandish plot, but rich storytelling is not why anyone plays a Mortal Kombat game or watches a movie about it. The attraction here is all about the brutal beatdowns, mystical special powers, and gory fatalities that mark the end of each fight in the tournament. Everything else is secondary.

The story then turns to Cole Young, an MMA fighter who is unwillingly dragged into the Mortal Kombat tournament. The storyline is mildly interesting, but it’s just a means to justify why everyone is punching and killing each other. The movie does a great job of making the finishing moves bloody and violent.

The movie is similar to Godzilla vs Kong in that it isn’t meant to be Shakespearean art. Instead, it is a fun spectacle for fans and casual moviegoers alike to enjoy, however, Mortal Kombat takes itself more seriously and focuses a bit more on telling a story.

Overall the movie was good, the fights were fun and the effects were solid. My only gripe is how many times the character name-dropped “Mortal Kombat” in their dialogue. I just wish there was more subtlety to that.

So if you’re a mega-fan of Mortal Kombat, a casual fan who maybe played one or two of the games in the past, or just wanna watch a movie with some fun fights then I recommend you go see it.