Mortal Kombat (2021) is the best movie I have seen all year. There I said it. Poise your fingers above your keyboard and prepare your comment taking apart one by one every reason the internet has concocted for why this can not be true. But before you do, let’s take a moment to explore why I have made such a bold claim.
Modern cinema is rife at the moment with extraordinary films. Much of this is because, whether it is for better or worse, the world is connected now more than ever. For the first time, we can see different cultures brought to life on the big screen or watch beloved superheroes launched in epic sagas that stretch multiple cinematic universes. I have seen old heroes brought into the modern era and watched as they confronted demons that we do every day, and many of these movies based on fictional or real-life events are nothing short of epic. That being said, I feel like the current trend in film misses out on specific opportunities because they often take themselves a little too seriously. The current trend in cinema is that the characters must reflect real life as much as possible. I think because of this, we have seen a lot of creativity boxed or wasted as directors and writers worry about whether the latest nitpicker group is going to find a plot hole in their latest work or a theorist group is going to guess the twist before the film ever hits the big screen.
Mortal Kombat seems to buck the trend of taking itself too seriously by being whatever it wants to be. The movie follows Cole Young, a cinema-only new character in the Mortal Kombat universe who is the descendant of probably the most well-known Mortal Kombat character Scorpion. Young is a failed MMA fighter and is quickly pulled into the conflict surrounding the mysterious tournament known as Mortal Kombat. When the mysterious fighter Sub Zero targets Cole and his family, a villain whose goal is to wipe out earth’s chosen heroes at the behest of his master, the sorcerer Shang Tsung, Cole must join forces with other chosen ones as they prepare to participate in the tournament known only as Mortal Kombat. Familiar faces from the game join Cole on the big screen, such as Jax, Sonya Blade, Kano, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao, as he slowly learns more about the world of Mortal Kombat through a series of fights and conflicts that give him insight into the tournament, its combatants, and his role in what may be the most important fight of his life.
Cole proves to be the weakest part of the movie (he was studio mandated, so this makes sense), but despite this, he still proves entertaining and connected to one of the best characters in the movie, Scorpion. Still, aside from some weak points surrounding him, the film is undoubtedly entertaining even if its tone wildly fluctuates from serious to campy to action-packed, often within single segments. Are you looking for a movie with a character with a profoundly heartbreaking storyline? This film has that. Has the spelling for Mortal Kombat always made you chuckle because Kombat is spelled wrong? The film’s own character’s acknowledge this in a tongue-in-cheek moment. Are you a hard-core lover of the game and want to see your favorite fatalities splashed onto the big screen in the goriest way possible? This film will deliver it to you, head on the platter and all. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mortal Kombat is a very ungrounded movie, but let’s be honest, so is its source material and the film does everything it can to bring moments that fans of the game have always wanted to see on the big screen come to life. As a fan of the old 1995 movie and a casual player and viewer of the game, the movie was everything I ever wanted. Did it always make sense? No. But I did not care that the character of Scorpion only spoke Japanese except for when he shouts his iconic line,” Get over here!” Why? Because it was fantastic, and I won’t lie, my face lit up in a grin when I heard it. Some of the best movies made in cinema will tackle real-life issues and have their characters mirror the real world in every way possible. Still, I think maybe we as an audience need to take a step back and appreciate a movie when the creators are allowed off their studio mandated leashes (well, most of the way, looking at you, Cole Young) and able to unleash utter and complete entertaining madness onto the big screen. So whether you’re here for the fatalities, the fight scenes, or to watch one of the single greatest video game characters utter three words, I invite you to grab a bowl of popcorn and “get over here” to watch one of the most fun movies you’ll see in a long time.
Photo Credit: IMDb