Having not really played the Mortal Kombat video games much, maybe one or two times growing up, and having never seen the original two films from the 90s, I was unsure about what to expect of the film adaptation of the franchise. So, I entered the cinema with zero expectations in hope that the film can hold up on its own.
The story begins back in ancient, 17th Japan where we are introduced to Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) as the head of the Shirai Ryu ninja clan and it is not long before the action kicks in with a fantastically choreographed fight sequence against the Lin Kuei assassins, led by Bi-Han. This sequence perfectly sets up the violent nature of the film with plenty of blood and gore to boot. Skip forward to present day and we are introduced to a new character in the Mortal Kombat universe – Cole Young (Lewis Tan), an MMA competitor fighting for scraps at the local boxing ring. After witnessing Cole Young receive an absolute pummelling in the ring, Jackson ‘Jax’ Briggs (Mehcad Brooks) questions Cole about the dragon mark on his chest to be told that it is a birth mark. Shortly after this encounter the main antagonist of the film, Sub Zero (Joe Taslim), attacks Cole Young and his family. With Jax and partner Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) to the rescue, Cole discovers that the dragon is not a birth mark, but a symbol that he and other champions of earth, have been chosen to defend the Earthrealm against enemies from the Outerworld in a great tournament known as Mortal Kombat.
Each character of the film has their own shining moment on screen, almost as if you were taking turns to play them as the available characters of the game. Equally, the fight sequences were impressive and had the accompanying special effects to bring that video game realism to the big screen. Personally, my favourite would have to be Kano, played by Australia’s very own Josh Lawson. Right off the bat with the full Aussie accent and take no bullshit attitude, he is the perfect arsehole that is only in it for himself. Not only does Lawson pull of the gruff attitude perfectly, but he is also utterly hilarious! So much that, at times, I was laughing so hard my sides hurt. Although, to an international audience, some of the Aussie humour might fall flat. I cannot skip by without giving a nod to Hiroyuki Sanada whom I have always been a fan of. Whilst his screen time is few and far between, I was enthralled in his performance each time he was on screen and was the perfect choice for his role. Last but not least, Ng Chin Han sliding perfectly into the bad guy role with ease as Outerworld leader, Shang Tsung.
So, does the film hold up on its own? Yes, it most certainly does! You do not need to be a fan of the gaming franchise at all to enjoy this film. The direction by Simon McQuoid together with the score by Benjamin Wallfisch, Mortal Kombat is an action-packed, gory blood fest that will satisfy both the dedicated gamer fan and newbie alike.
For a Mortal Kombat novice like myself, the plot and lore are easy enough to follow as the film provides just enough backstory to apprise me of what everything is about and does this without boring the die-hard fans. Even though I had minimal experience of the gaming franchise growing up, the film was still thoroughly enjoyable. And for the long-time fans, this film delivers on the fan service in spades.
Mortal Kombat is out in local cinemas from April 22nd. I highly recommend you catch it as this film deserves the full cinema experience.