Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Christopher Lambert as Raiden
Robin Shou as Liu Kang
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung
Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage
Bridgette Wilson as Sonya Blade
Talisa Soto as Princess Kitana
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Lord Raiden (Christopher Lambert) handpicks three martial artists — federal agent Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson), Shaolin monk Lui Kang (Robin Shou) and action movie sensation Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) — and mentors them. After intense training, Rayden transports the trio to Outworld, the site of an inter-dimensional fighting tournament. There, the three humans must defeat the demonic warriors of the evil Shang Sung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) — or allow Sung to take over the Earth.
The Mortal Kombat games left such an impact on video games, mostly with the excessive gore and blood that other fighting games at the time didn’t have. In 1995, Mortal Kombat got its own movie adaptation by Paul W.S. Anderson and to this day it’s generally considered to be one of the better video game movies, but that’s not saying much. Looking at the movie as a whole, it’s not particularly good but its entertaining enough (intentionally or otherwise) that it doesn’t really matter.
Mortal Kombat’s story is basic and easy to follow, it follows a basic pattern, two people fight, Christopher Lambert’s Raiden drops exposition, repeat until the third act. There’s really not much to say about the plot, its simple and cliched and nothing new. It still is somewhat entertaining however. Mortal Kombat is very over the top. Having played two of the most recent Mortal Kombat games, I can say that the characters are somewhat similar, they are mostly 2 dimensional but they aren’t given much depth in the games either. The dialogue is laughably terrible a lot of the time as well, the writing isn’t good at all. It’s the entertainment factor that really makes the movie watchable. Mortal Kombat is not too long, with it being an hour and 40 minutes long. It doesn’t really get boring, as long as you know what you’re in for.
The actors aren’t the best and aren’t particularly good for the most part but they do their roles well enough. From the two Mortal Kombat games that I played, they seemed to suit the roles well, however that’s all I can really say about them with a couple exceptions. Christopher Lambert as Raiden is perfect casting and was the standout to me.
Paul W.S. Anderson isn’t that great of a director from what I can tell but he does enough here for Mortal Kombat to be entertaining. The stunts in the fight sequences are pretty standard and nothing special. Thankfully you can actually see what’s going on and its not edited so that they’re incomprehensible, and at times they are over the top enough that they are entertaining. Despite the fight scenes being very over the top however, there isn’t really any blood whatsoever. This is a little bit of a problem, as the reason that the Mortal Kombat games got noticed so much (at least in the 90s) was the blood and gore, so it feels like the movie is really lacking something. No doubt this was a studio mandated decision to increase the amount of viewers as Paul W.S. Anderson had directed some bloody and violent movies. Some of the visual effects are decent enough (for its time at least), other effects are pretty terrible. The character of Goro (who is a monsterlike character with 4 arms) is completely practical, and while I’m fully aware that it would look terrible had it been in CGI, it looks very clunky and fake. There is a lot of slow motion used, to the point of ridiculousness. The music was good and really add to the movies and scenes, especially the main theme.
Mortal Kombat is not that good but it is entertaining at least. The acting for the most part is subpar, the effects haven’t aged well, it’s really cheesy and while it’s not a huge problem, the lack of the blood and gore really feels out of place. Yet it has parts that really work, some of the chesesiness can be entertaining (intentional or not) and the action scenes are mostly enjoyable. If you like the Mortal Kombat games, you might enjoy this movie. When I first watched Mortal Kombat, I personally didn’t watch play the games myself (although I knew of some of the characters) and I still enjoyed the movie quite a bit. So if you’re willing to watch a simple and cliched yet entertaining action movie, Mortal Kombat might do it for you. I think there’s some potential for a modern day Mortal Kombat movie to really work, hopefully we get that one day.