Director: Paul Anderson
Stars: Robin Shou, Christopher Lambert, Cary Tagawa, Talisa Soto, Bridgette Wilson
Based on the popular ultra-violent video game, Mortal Kombat deals with a strange tournament set up by the evil sorceror Shang Tsung (Tagawa) that will determine whether a group of evil demons from another dimension called "Outworld" will gain entrance to Earth. Aiding the team of humans (led by Lui Kang, played by Shou) that will become Earth's final stand is the god of thunder Rayden (Lambert).
Most video game-to-movie translations suck. Just look at the horrid Van Damme vehicle Street Fighter as a case in point. But Mortal Kombat is quite fun to watch. Though none of the actors are particularly great (Lambert is especially horrible -- I always thought Rayden was supposed to be Asian, not a French Canadian), but the fights are staged well. Don't get me wrong... you're not going to confuse Mortal Kombat for a Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie, but the martial arts sequences are good for a US film.
Mortal Kombat also avoids a lot of the crappy macho male stuff that usually peppers US action movies with two strong female leads (Soto and Wilson) -- though it is a shame that neither of them are very good martal artists. It would have been great to see Michelle Yeoh or Cynthia Rothrock in here, but I guess the producers were trying more for the "babe" factor to entice the teenaged fans of the game.
The set design and special effects are also quite well done. They actually add to the film instead of becoming the main focal point (something which the sequel fell prey to). However, the model of the monstrous Goro (a mean four-armed monster who is the tournament's champion) looks quite cheesy, but thankfully, it's onscreen for only a short time. Mortal Kombat also sports an excellent soundtrack, of which two albums were made. If you like metal or techno, you'll dig it.
There is one point in which Mortal Kombat falls short. The video games were legendary for their gore. In the US, ratings were slapped on video games after the release of Mortal Kombat, which was the first fighting game to feature "fatalities," where you could do various fun things to your opponent after defeating him, like ripping their spine out. Now, if you know me, you know I like gore in movies. I was pretty skeptical about the violence level when I went into Mortal Kombat, as it had gotten a PG-13 rating -- and I was right. Though there are "fatalities" in the movie, they're all bloodless. The most we get to see is some green ooze come out of a skeleton. Strangely, the Jim Carrey movie Dumb and Dumber (also rated PG-13) has a sequence which parodies one of the fatalities from the Mortal Kombat game (even using one of the "actors" from the game) which features some guy's heart being ripped out.
Enough of my ranting. If you want to see a fun action movie, then check this one out. Even if you're not a fan of the game, you should still have a pretty good time with it.
Back to Movie Review index