By Tim Nacey
This movie contains the most blood that I’ve ever seen outside of the horror genre.
If that got your attention in a positive way, “Mortal Kombat” was made for you.
Video game movies haven’t been in a great place historically. In fact, they’re a bit of a laughing stock.
The Hollywood machine seems to have absolutely no idea what to make of this relatively new and rapidly growing medium. The majority of cracks that have been taken at bringing the interactive world into the linear world of cinema have resulted in overthought messes.
Filmmakers seem to think they have to directly translate the gameplay experience to the big screen and it always leaves audiences wishing they had just stayed home and played the likes of “Resident Evil,” “Ratchet and Clank” and “Super Mario Bros.”
In the last few years, however, younger filmmakers have begun to crack the code with films like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Detective Pikachu” and “The Angry Birds Movie.” The new generation is proving to the world that it’s far easier than Hollywood has been making it out to be.
It pleases me to say that, while it’s a little bit of a mess, “Mortal Kombat” continues this trend.
Directed by Simon McQuoid and based on the fighting game franchise of the same name, “Mortal Kombat” centers around a group of humans that fight off beings from a parallel dimension called Outworld in a brutal fight for the fate of the universe.
The film is anchored by Lewis Tan, who plays Cole Young, an original character created for the film who is chased by an ice-magic wielding ninja warrior named Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), his master Shang Tsung (Chin Han) and a host of other baddies from the video games.
Cole finds the temple of an ancient martial arts master named Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), who trains him, along with a bunch of iconic heroes from the series, such as Sonya Blade, Liu Kang and Kung Lao to face The Outworlders for the fight for the fate of Earth in a tournament called Mortal Kombat.
The plot is really nothing to write home about. What really makes this movie worth watching is the fight scenes. They are slickly choreographed and shot in a way that makes it easy to track the action — a frustratingly rare thing in a world where blockbusters are dominated by CGI.
You won’t confuse this with “John Wick,” but there’s more TLC given to the fight scenes than I thought there would be.
What impressed me most about this film is that it knows exactly what it wants to be and keeps its priorities straight. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, “Mortal Kombat” is extremely violent.
It’s clear that the utmost passion and love went into the simultaneously savage and darkly hilarious fatalities. I won’t spoil any of them here, but the majority of them are a sight to behold.
I’ve been saying it for years: creating a solid video game adaptation isn’t rocket science.
There is absolutely no reason to think that turning a game into a movie should be any different from doing the same with a novel, TV show or comic book. You take the characters, the world and the essence that makes this universe special and you turn it into a movie.
“Mortal Kombat” may not be a cinematic classic, but it’s certainly one of the baby steps that could very well lead to a golden age for video game movies in the not too distant future.