Mortal Kombat 2021 (Review)

Flawless Victory or Fatality?

Available On: HBO Max, Microsoft Store

Genre: Martial Arts/Fantasy

Director: Simon McQuoid

Studio: New Line Cinema

Release: April 23rd, 2021

The latest video game movie adaptation is upon us! Mortal Kombat (2021) is the newest addition to a long line of attempts to bring video games to the silver screen, quite possibly the biggest hit or miss formula in cinema.

Many have tried, many have failed, few have succeeded at capturing the magic of the games they’re adapting. Do you try to appease the fans alone? Do you try to appeal to a broader audience, possibly alienating the fans of the games in the process?

It’s a tough line to walk, but has Simon McQuoid accomplished it in the first live-action Mortal Kombat movie in 24 years? Surely making the first Mortal Kombat since 97’s Annihilation would mean there’s not a very high bar to reach, but if anything, wouldn’t that make success more imperative?

Fans’ eyes were firmly planted on New Line and McQuoid, eagerly awaiting the return of their favourite warriors to the big screen (or small screen, in most cases nowadays) to see who would be triumphant in the Mortal Kombat tournament. And as we all know, video game fans have fairly high standards for their adaptations.

So What’s It All About?

Written by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham, Mortal Kombat tells the story of Hanzo Hasashi’s descendant Cole Young (a new addition to the Mortal Kombat universe), a past-his-prime MMA fighter, who is prophesied to gather a team of warriors together to save Earthrealm from soul-eater Shang Tsung of Outworld.

The realm of Outworld has so far defeated Earthrealm in 9 consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments, and if Earthrealm loses just one more then they will be conquered by Outworld. Because of the prophecy, Shang Tsung sends his warriors to kill those of Earthrealm, marked with a red dragon symbol, before the tournament begins, which will solidify their victory via forfeit.

Cole Young, one such warrior with the dragon mark, and focus of the aforementioned prophecy, gets pulled into this world filled with many fan favourite characters such as Kano, Sonia Blade, Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, and Jax, among others.

We watch as the heroes of Earthrealm try to fight off the warriors of Outworld, who are doing their best to hunt them down and make sure they can’t take part in the tournament in a blood and gore-filled adventure that you would expect from a Mortal Kombat movie.

Flawless Victory?

Honestly? This was actually a great movie. If you’re looking for, say, a plot-heavy, character-driven masterpiece, you’re not going to get it here. It’s Mortal Kombat; it’s violent, it’s fun, and it makes no sense.

It’s a brutal martial arts movie that knows what it is, knows who its target audience is, and doesn’t shy away from that. It’s two hours of cheesy, arrogant ‘roid rage and delivers on what you want from a Mortal Kombat movie.

The choreography is done phenomenally, with great attention to detail from choreographers and performers alike, with none of the cuts being too jarring, making the action scenes flow seamlessly.

The action didn’t drag on too long, but it didn’t fly past either. The creative team had a perfect balance of moving the story forward and brutality, so you didn’t find yourself getting bored halfway through either, and the pacing worked incredibly well throughout.

While the dialogue was nothing revolutionary, and it wasn’t trying to be, the humor was great. I can’t think of any jokes that fell flat. Kano was a particular stand-out, carrying most of the movie with his Ozzie-accented one-liners and brutish demeanor.

The costume design of everyone was great, with all of the characters being instantly recognisable, which, yes, should be the bare minimum for things like this, but too often people try to make characters “their own” and completely take away from them, so I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s a big plus.

While there were a lot of cuts in the fight scenes (I would’ve preferred at least one long head-on shot as if we were looking at an in-game fight as a little bonus) they were cut together incredibly well and the CGI, while not perfect, was pretty on point for the universe.

And while you don’t need to be a fan of the games for it to make sense, it strikes a great balance between that and littering the movie with various name-drops and easter eggs for long-time players.


If you’re a newcomer to the franchise, while you might have some familiarity with the characters, it does tend to just throw characters at you for a short time with minimal introduction, then bring them back later on. While fans of the games won’t notice this at all, the expectation to know them might overwhelm those unfamiliar just a bit.

As I said above, there are a lot of cuts in the fight scenes, which, while edited together incredibly well, doesn’t allow you to focus on the choreography as much as you’d like in a martial arts movie.

Again, a lot of the dialogue leaves much to be desired and the plot is fine, but it feels harsh to judge a Mortal Kombat movie on that. They do their job at making it worthy of the silver screen and that’s enough for me.

Finish Him

Overall, Mortal Kombat is a fun, over-the-top bloody mess full of brutal action sequences and just enough Easter eggs to keep it accessible for newcomers to the franchise. While a casual fan of the games in the past, I definitely enjoyed myself, but I can’t speak for the hardcore, full-leg-tattoo type fans, but I’m sure they’d have a pretty good time.

The fight sequences are great and the filler in between keeps your attention just enough, which I definitely wasn’t expecting from this.

If you’re looking for an excuse to shut your brain off and stuff your face with popcorn, switch on Mortal Kombat and enjoy the ride.

Watch this movie if…

  • You’re a fan of the games

  • You like martial arts movies

  • You like excessive violence

  • You’re not too bothered with plot

  • You want to shut off your brain for a bit and enjoy yourself

All images are taken imdb

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