Mortal Kombat 2021: Movie Review

To say that I was sordidly disappointed in the 2021 reboot of Mortal Kombat would be an understatement. I had such high hopes for this movie but it was such a letdown.

Synopsis: As the Mortal Kombat tournament nears, Shang Tsung (Chin Han) gets his fighters to eliminate all competitors before the contest begins. Earth’s remaining champions must unlock their hidden powers to protect the world from falling under the control of the Outerworld.

There were so many things that went wrong in this movie that I don’t know how to begin. I much enjoyed the 1995 version and even saw it a couple of times. Even with the dated CGI it was 10 times better than this one.

First, the main hero Cole Young (Lewis Tan) had zero appeal. Cole was a wus who had his as* saved over and over before he finally unlocked his power towards the end of the movie. It was totally ridiculous that he instantly became the team’s leader when he could not even strategize his game plan in an MMA fight not a few moments before.

WEAK. Everything about the reboot is sub par. All style and no substance.

If I was Scorpion/Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), I would have disowned the weakling as the heir to my bloodline. He was whiny. He was weak, and he wasn’t very smart. And what about that costume? Did production run out of budget that they stuck him in a cheap rubber top and expected people to buy it as an armor?

And how could you take Jax (Mehcad Brooks) seriously when he looked like a jacked up Eddie Murphy? I was expecting him to crack a joke at any minute. Kung Lao (Ludi Lin) and Liu Kang (Max Huang) were no better. They talked too much and were so full of themselves just because they were trained warriors. When the real battle came, they were hardly efficient. The team was a mess. They had no chemistry and were a bunch of unrootable pompous a*ses with nothing to show for themselves but their arrogance (or inferiority as with Cole’s case).

The only semi interesting characters were Sonya (Jessica McNamee) and Kane (Josh Lawson). Yes, Kane. He was a jacka*s but at least he had personality.

Apart from unlikeable characters, the story and the dialogue were also too corny. It had none of the appeal of the video game. And because there was no actual tournament that took place, the lines from the matches seemed forced when they came up. Like why would Kung Lao say flawless victory right after a fight? It was so awkward I flinched.

The storytelling was all over the place. They wasted a major part of the story to establish the characters and their training when the film should have focused on the actual Mortal Kombat like the first movie. Combined with the bad script, everything seemed really problematic. The fragmented style of storytelling also felt clunky and incohesive.

In all fairness, some of the battle scenes had potential — especially the rivalry between Sub Zero (Joe Taslim) and Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) which was basically in the first seven minutes of the movie and one final battle in the end. All the rest of the action seemed ridiculous.

All in all, Mortal Kombat as a source material, already had a lot going for it, a good story, a cool soundtrack and great character quotes. It was truly amazing how Warner Bros and New Line Cinema could fail so badly given these built in elements. But they managed to do it glowingly. At the end of the day, it was all style and no substance. It was a weak attempt to replicate the success of a beloved video game and an insult to the franchise. Yes. I said it.

I read before that they were open to film a sequel. If I was the studio, I would scrap all plans for the sequel right now. Finish it now and save yourselves from further embarrassment and millions of dollars for production. Worst case, make prequel about Sub Zero and Hanzo. That’s the only acceptable path after this mess.

Pro Tip: Watch the trailer. All of the good parts are in it already. You won’t get more.