As the streaming wars begin to heat up, one of the challenges that a lot of studios were finding was the release of films and the amount of money being made. Naturally, with cinemas being closed, many of these films have had to perform exceptionally on their relative streaming sites to break even. One company that made a bold promise was Warner Bros and HBO Max who stated that all their 2021 films would premiere on HBO Max on the same day as their premiered in cinemas. That would allow fans to watch films regardless of the state of the COVID lockdowns in their country. So with that, all said and done I got a chance to watch the first film of that slate; Mortal Kombat
‘Mortal Kombat’ is a film based on the legendary video game franchise. It tells the story of Cole Young, a young family man who spends his time fighting in gruesome MMA fights, but ultimately coming up short. One night, Cole is approached by a man named Jax, who claims that a legendary tournament is about to take place and they could use a fighter like Cole. Cole declines, but he and his family are attacked by an assassin with ice powers; Sub-Zero. Cole decides to take Jax up on the offer and meets with Sonya Blade, Jax’s companion who has been researching fighters across the centuries; each fighter distinguished with a dragon tattoo. Sonya and Max had located another fighter, Kano, who reluctantly agrees to help them find a mystical temple where they can train. There they meet Liu Kang and Kung Lao; two legendary warriors who will help them discover inner powers. But when the ruler of the Otherworld, a demonic dimension, decides that he wishes to capture Earth without winning the tournament, he sets off a chain of events that will change each of these fighters lives forever. Can each of them find their “arcana”; the mystical power within them? And can they defend Earth from this legendary threat?
First thing is first, I think the cast of this film was excellent. What I mean when I say that is that many of the cast were East Asian actors and given that the characters they were portraying were those ethnicities originally, I think it’s great that we have representation here. The film had Lewis Tan as Cole Young and I thought he was a good choice, given his martial arts experience. Familiar faces for me included Mehcad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen in Supergirl) as Jax and Ludi Lin (of Aquaman and Power Rangers fame) as the legendary fighter Liu Kang. Other actors including Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade and Chin Han as Shang Tsung also did a fairly good job in bringing these iconic video game characters to life. The standout performance for me though was Josh Lawson as the foul-mouthed Australian mercenary Kano. He was extremely entertaining to watch and had me and my sister in a fit of laughter.
Okay, so I think we all knew that this film was never going to be an award-winning film, but I think that as a movie based on a video game, it had its ups. One of the positive aspects of the film was the characters themselves. There was no main character that I didn’t like in some way. Cole was intriguing. Jax and Sonya were badass. And Liu Kang and Kung Lao were my favourites. Even some of the villains like Sub-Zero had fairly decent scenes. However, despite the good, there were some bad points to the film. The first of these being that this film was a little too short for my liking. There has been a flurry of tweets on Twitter claiming that Warner Bros have a 2-hour mandate on their films, which if is the case, is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard. Lord of the Rings maxed out at 3.5 hours and is still one of the greatest films of all time. I’m not saying that Mortal Kombat was going to be that, but perhaps it would have benefitted from some more runtime to develop some of the characters a little more.
So granted the entire world of Mortal Kombat was always going to have a lot of CGI and actually this was one of the things that I thought was actually quite good about it. A lot of the fighters from Otherworld were done really well, and even the infamous ‘fatalities’ were executed in a gruesome but authentic way. Coming on to the music, I’ve always believed that out of all the fighting video games Mortal Kombat had the most iconic theme music and the film implemented it at quite a few points, but just not enough for me! Overall, this wasn’t a bad watch for a film I had no expectations of. It’ll be interesting to see how it does and if it gets a sequel!