Thursday, April 14, 2011

REVIEW: Mortal Kombat (1995)

Mortal Kombat (USA, 1995) - Color, Director(s): Paul W.S. Anderson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
[UK: 15]
Approx. 101 min.

Z-rating: 3 out of 5 stars for pure nostalgic entertainment

B-factor: 3 out of 5 stars for how cheesily the movie was executed

With the new Mortal Kombat game on the way, I thought it was only appropriate that I reviewed the movies in preparation for its release. (I will also be doing a detailed review of the MK: Kollector's Edition box set when mine comes in the mail. YEAH!!!) I was in elementary school when this film first dropped. I don't remember a living soul that wasn't into the video games and anybody who was anyone saw this movie when it came out. Of course, I had to be one of the cool kids in school (I was lucky enough to rent this bad boy on VHS!!! Ooooooh yeeaaahh) so I was, no doubt, on the playground talking to all the other kids about how awesome Goro looked and how we probably would've appreciated some more blood and fatalities. (Yes! Even as a kid!!)

The film begins with a flashback of Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) defeating one of Earth's fighters in Mortal Kombat. When the dream sequence ends, we find that these are the nightmares that haunt Earth's greatest champion, Liu Kang (played by Robin Shou). Unable to deal with the loss of his younger brother, he seeks answers at the Temple of Light. This is where he first meets Lord Raiden, God of Thunder, but still leaves doubtful of the whole tournament to protect Earth realm from foreign invaders. We cut to two other of Earth's fighters, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade. On the Hollywood set of some film, Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) is filming his latest action epic when an extra flubs the scene. He's approached by his "agent", who's really Shang Tsung in disguise, and is told about a tournament where he can demonstrate the validity of his skills to the world. Sonya Blade (played by the lovely but mean looking Bridgette Wilson), on the other hand, is a special forces agent with her partner Jax Briggs. They are on a sting operation to take down Kano (excellently acted by Trevor Goddard, who made him my favorite character in the movie), a boss in the criminal underworld. These fighters are invited to participate in a tournament known as Mortal Kombat, but the details of the tournament are a bit vague. (Kinda feels like Enter the Dragon thus far)

They all hop on a leaky boat and start off for some island where the tournament will be held. Bruce Le... um... Liu Kang and the other Earth fighters have a run-in with two of Outworld's fighters, Scorpion (Chris Casamassa, whom some of you might remember as "The Red Dragon" from WMAC Masters) and Sub-Zero. Raiden (Christopher Lambert, who is jocking for first place with Trevor[Kano] for best performance) puts an end to that shit before it starts... but it's already become clear that these aren't your run-of-the-mill fighters. Earth's fighters gather around as Lord Raiden fills them in on the details of their presence in this tournament. The evil sorcerer Shang Tsung has lead the fight against Earth Realm in a tournament called Mortal Kombat. Winning nine consecutive victories, Outworld can conquer Earth Realm if Shang Tsung and his fighters were to win a tenth MK tournament in a row. Realizing that they were Earth's final hope, the fighters band together and prepare to take on their greatest enemy. If they are not successful, then Earth Realm is doomed.


The theme song was stuck in everybody's head for YEARS to come. I don't know anyone who can't hum the beat to the MK song. In fact, all you have to do is scream "IT HAS BEGUN" and I guarantee that somebody will finish it by yelling back, "MORTAL KOMBAT!!!!!" as you both start to hum the beat. I think these films, and the video game franchise, have a lot of nostalgic value to people who grew up during the height of MK popularity. Another thing that I found really interesting were the connections that I found between this movie and WMAC Masters. Apparently, one of the fighters on the show was the original character model for Liu Kang and Shang Tsung in the first game. (Ho-Sung Pak, who was "Superstar" on the show.) There was also the aforementioned Chris Casamassa (Scorpion) and Hakim "The Machine" Alston, who played the dude that Liu Kang defeats in the opening rounds of the tournament and gets his soul stolen by Shang Tsung.

Nudity: None, this movie was rated PG-13. But I must say that Sonya Blade looked VERY sexy as she snapped Kano's neck like a twig.

Gore: None. There was barely even any blood in this movie and I feel like that's where the biggest mistake in this movie lies. How can you possibly make a movie based on the most violent fighting game franchise in history but have it be PG-13?!?!? Does anyone else see a problem with this? As a stand alone film, the MK movie was great. I enjoyed it and found it very entertaining. There were a couple of "nods" to the video game series if you look out for them. And some of the characters, especially Goro, looked fantastic. However, the movie won't be receiving a higher score from me just because it failed to quench my insatiable blood lust.

Awesome: Pretty. I definitely remember enjoying the movies a lot more when I was a kid though. I guess you grow up and some things just change. As much as I absolutely LOVE the video games, I can't say the same for the movies. This movie was a success, financially, though as it spawned a SUPER cheesy sequel and a live-action TV series. Since Hollywood likes to reboot movies so damn much, I don't see them rebooting this series in an ultra-violent manner that would be loyal to the video game series. Well, actually, I guess that's not entirely true. I heard that because of some legal issues that Midway was having, Warner Bros. came and bought the rights for several video game franchises with the intention of turning them into movies. Threshold Entertainment, however, owns the rights to the first two MK movies and felt like Warner Bros. was trying to cut them out of the picture. A lawsuit followed and a movie was never officially made. Threshold announced that they're going to remake an MK movie in 2013. Let's hope they don't mess it up this time with more PG-13 crap. In an unrelated incident, a clip was released onto youtube trying to generate some buzz. The clip was entitled Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, featuring Michael Jai White as "Jax" and Lateef Crowder as "Baraka".

This clip is not official but they did decide to turn it into a web series to generate more buzz for the video game coming out on 4/19/2011. The first episode of which, hit the web two days ago on April 12, 2011 and can be seen here.

Here's the trailer to the original movie:

Check out my review of the sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)