The best way to describe the newest live-action take on the beloved fighting game franchise is that it’s a pretty neat car commercial. At least good enough to convince you that the car itself might be worth your wallet. And while you’re while waiting for this nice shiny vehicle to come out, you can at least rely on that promo to get you through in the meantime.
As someone whose childhood was somewhat defined by the joyous bounty of gore and carnage that the games infamously brought to the table, the film certainly tickles the inner fan in me through various callbacks to the franchise that doesn’t get too much in the way of the overall narrative and are just used sparingly enough so that the overall impact isn’t diminished.
In comparison to past efforts, Mortal Komabt also gives fans the long-awaited R rating. Watching people’s limbs get ripped and twisted will surely be a crowd-pleaser. The action is pretty fun for the most part, with lots of well-choreographed between various fighters, which do a decent enough job showing off their particular abilities.
Even though most of the fights end in a fittingly brutal fashion, everything that happens beforehand nowhere has the same impact. Quite frankly their rather comparable to the 1995 film in that while they are enjoyable, the hits don’t feel as weighty as I had hoped. And unfortunately, this newest Mortal Kombat loves to use its quick edits. Not just for the action, but for the entire film. They are a few films that can use them effectively, and this isn’t one of them. It stands out like a sore thumb, too, when the editing lets the action breaths, and it becomes a lot more fun to watch.
Thankfully a common tradition for these films that remains intact is that it stays relatively faithful to the source material. Fans will be sure to pick up on the various characters, locations, and other Mortal Komabt traditions that either make an appearance or get some sort of mention. Though this film is very much tailored towards the fanbase rather than the general audience, I will struggle to understand most of the little details aside from what connects to the main story.
What both parties might agree on, however, is that the newest addition to the franchise leaves quite a bit to be desired. The film’s main hero Cole Young is very much a creation of this particular story. And while I’m not against that in the interest to add something innovative to the mix, he does make for a pretty bland lead. Even though the way he ties into the lore is fitting and makes use of the license. It’s just in comparison to the more lively characters brought over from the games; he comes more of driftwood.
But for everyone else, they’re pretty much on point and decently acted. Especially when it comes to the portrayals of Kano and Sub-Zero. Josh Lawson Kano makes for such an entertaining scumbag that brings some much-needed charisma and energy. And making Sub-Zero into this film’s equivalent of a slasher villain with ice powers works so well to make him such a threatening presence. It also doesn’t hurt that his fights are the best in the film, without a doubt.
Compared to the Resident Evil series, this Mortal Komabt leaves room for future stories that I’m genuinely interested in seeing. If for nothing else, see how they handle major lore elements intertwined into the franchise DNA. As for what is available now, it’s a pretty agreeable feature. Which for video game movies is nothing short of a miracle. If they truly go all-in on the gore and make further use out of the game’s more colorful faces, then the films might find their flawless victory.