Spectacular, brutal and unsophisticated
In 2011, after a few years in which the Mortal Kombat series was in decline, its rebirth took place. The developers returned to the events of the original game, rethinking them in a new way. In the single-player campaign, numerous fights were diluted with plot inserts, which made it clear why the characters, sometimes not even at odds with each other, will now sweep each other for nothing. And it was all spiced up with a fair amount of fan service.
The new film adaptation of the famous fighting game is tailored to very similar patterns. Director Simon McQuoid almost from the very beginning throws the viewer into the thick of things, spending a minimum of time explaining what is happening. Heroes now and then talk about the Outside World, Lin Kuei or “Black Dragon”, but you won’t be able to find out something intelligible about them from the film. If a viewer who is not familiar with the original source is on the Mortal Kombat, he will probably have a lot of questions about what he saw.
The film takes us back to the events of the original tournament, on the outcome of which the fate of the Earth kingdom depends. True, the competition itself will not be shown to us. Before the start of the decisive Mortal Kombat, the sorcerer Shang Tsung (in the dub he is called Shang Tsung, ignoring the transliteration adopted in games) decides to cheat and kill the defenders of Earth in advance, many of whom do not yet suspect that they are elected. The plot episodes last exactly as long as it takes to somehow justify the next battle or introduce a new character, and then quickly move on to the most important thing that can only be in Mortal Kombat – to the actual battles.
The concentration of battles in the film is expectedly high – from fleeting skirmishes to protracted and multi-stage fights. For a film like Mortal Kombat, the staging of battles is perhaps the most important thing, but alas, it cannot be said that it is flawless. There are some amazingly staged fights in which you enjoy every movement of the fighters – especially the two collisions of Scorpio and Sub-Zero are good. At the same time, a number of action scenes suffer from poor editing. For example, shortly before the end of the film, four fights take place in parallel, the camera constantly switches from one to the other, which makes the scene look ragged and chaotic. But, despite a number of unsuccessful battle scenes, as a whole, as a spectacle, “Mortal Kombat” was definitely a success. Moreover, the spectacle is very brutal and bloody.
The fight scenes fully justify the film’s adult age rating – they are as bloody and cruel as in games, and often end with spectacular finishing moves
In the tradition of the original games, here every now and then the hero’s hands are ripped out, entrails are torn or heads are blown off. Characters use branded finishing moves with might and main and it looks very impressive on the big screen. Fatality is just one of the many fan-service elements that the film adaptation is rich in.
When watching “Mortal Kombat” you constantly feel that the film was filmed by fans who know and love the original source well, and this makes the film adaptation captivating. There are also small Easter eggs like images of not the most famous characters flashing in the frame, and branded phrases like “pure victory” and even playing out some gameplay moments. Surely, everyone who at least once played Mortal Kombat used one sweep after another, as soon as the enemy got up, and he could not do anything about it. This is reflected in the film in a very funny way.
And in general, Mortal Kombat has enough humor, and the rare pathetic speech about the great tournament and the fate of the world, which is rare for the series, does not have a share of self-irony. Kano, who can safely be called the most lively and colorful character in the film, is especially vivid in the field of jokes and comic situations. The greedy mercenary, like some other key characters in the film – Liu Kang, Raiden, Sonya Blade – at the same time turned out to be very recognizable, and at the same time, the writers significantly rethought his image.
In “Mortal Kombat” there are enough characters that would have looked much better than Cole as the main characters, but they were relegated to the background.
I would like to summarize this by saying that Simon McQuoid has made an excellent film adaptation for fans, true to the brutal spirit of the original source, spectacular and at the same time offering a fresh take on the classic plot and characters. However, such a complimentary conclusion is hindered by one “but” – the new protagonist Cole Young. It is he who serves as a kind of pivot of history – a once successful athlete, who has sunk to the bottom, suddenly becomes a target for an assassin with supernatural abilities and learns that he must play a key role in preparing for the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament.
The rest of the plot of the film is built around Cole’s personal history. It seems that McQuoid and the writers were afraid to make a 100% fan movie, and therefore added a simple plot about the chosen one, through which at least one can acquaint those who have never played Mortal Kombat with what is happening. And it would be difficult to blame the authors for wanting to please both fans and a wide audience, if the character turned out to be interesting. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and Cole’s hero turned out to be extremely faded. It is very disappointing that a fair share of screen time is spent on it, while there is no place for potentially much more interesting storylines in Mortal Kombat. For example, the conflict between Sub-Zero and Scorpio is not disclosed at all – in the film there is not even a hint of what made them mortal enemies. Cole is also not impressive in battle – he has neither memorable individual technique nor bright special moves. So throughout the entire film, the bewilderment of why he needs such a protagonist does not leave.
Games of the Mortal Kombat series have always been taken first of all by colorful action, deliberate cruelty and colorful characters. The filmmakers well understood the strengths of the original and diligently transferred all this to the big screens. Thanks to this, “Mortal Kombat”, despite a number of unsuccessful scenario and visual solutions, has every chance to fall in love with fans of original games.