About ten minutes into Mortal Kombat, there’s a title card that reads, “Earthrealm is on the verge of catastrophe….”
As soon as I saw it, I shouted, “Oh my God, this is one of those films!”
And indeed, it is. Mortal Kombat is one of those films that has a lot of mythology that doesn’t quite make sense but which the audience is expected to blindly accept because it’s Mortal Kombat. The main idea here is that, of the last few Mortal Kombat tournaments, Earthworld has lost nine of them and, if it loses for a tenth time, the rules state that Outworld will then be able to conquer Earthworld. What I want to know is who agreed to those stupid rules in the first place? Were they drunk at the time? Who decided on the ten-victory arrangement? Does it have to be ten victories in a row or do they just have to win ten times? If Earthworld wins the next tournmant, does everything reset or are we now in a position where we have to win every single tournament until the end of time? The film tells us that Raiden, the God of the Thunder, is the protector of Earthworld. Can we get a new protector because Raiden obviously sucks at his job.
Anyway, with an opening like that, you would think that Mortal Kombat would be all about the tournament but we don’t actually get the tournament in this film. We get a lot of combat (or should I say, “kombat”) because the champions of Outworld keep trying to kill the champions of Earthworld before the tournament. That sounds like cheating to me but whatever. All of the fighters have a special power, though some powers are more impressive than others. Kano (played by Josh Lawson) may be loud and obnoxious but he eventually learns how to shoot a laser beam out of his eye, which seems pretty nice until you consider that Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) can do all sorts of cool stuff with fire and Raiden can turn his hat into a freaking buzzsaw. Jax (Mehcad Brooks) loses his arms early on but then he gets some replacement arms that he can use to tear people in half. “These motherfuckers really work,” Jax says after savagely killing an opponent. Excuse me, Jax, but that was someone’s child.
The main character is Cole Young (Lewis Tan), who is a washed-up MMA fighter who gets a chance to save the world. Cole is a boring characters and his powers kind of suck too. After watching the film, I checked and I discovered that Cole is apparently not a character in any of the Mortal Kombat video games so I guess he was created to give the audience someone to relate to. But I would think that the audience would want to relate to someone who can actually do spectacular things as opposed to just standing around and whining about how his powers are inadequate.
The film’s big attraction is watching Sub-Zero battle Scorpion at the end. I’ve never even played Mortal Kombat and even I know who Sub-Zero and Scorpion are. That’s how much they’ve become a part of pop culture. Sub-Zero (who is played by Joe Taslim) is actually portrayed fairly well in the film. Taslim moves like a confident killer and, visually, the film comes up with some striking images of his ice-covered existence. If you’re only watching for the big Scorpion/Sub-Zero fight, be aware that it doesn’t happen until the very end of the film and it’s a bit anti-climatic. But Scorpion does say, “Get over here!” He says it in English despite all of his other dialogue being in Japanese and he shouts it at a character who is also never heard to speak English but whatever. It’s Mortal Kombat. They might be able to get away with not showing the tournament but there’s no way they could have gotten away with not using the line.
Mortal Kombat is pretty forgettable. It gets bogged down in story when its should just be concentrating on combat and the fights themselves are pretty rudimentary. There’s a lot of blood but not much imagination. I’m going to write a movie called Moral Kombat, which will just be three hours of Benedictines and Jesuits arguing with each other. I think it’ll be a hit.