Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat
Running time:110 minutes
Director:Simon McQuoid
Release date:12 may 2021

Mulder's Review

The cinema and the universe of video games seem intrinsically linked and especially allows us to immerse ourselves in a universe rich in sensations and offer to escape far from our daily concerns. Mortal Kombat directed by Simon McQuoid on a script by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham and a story by Oren Uziel and Russo is based on the homonymous video game franchise created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. It is easy to understand the attraction of Warner Bros to want to restore the aura of this universe so appreciated by gamers in the cinema (and on HBO Max) released today in the United States especially after two films that have totally erased the violence of the many video games of the Mortal Kombat universe to make mainstream films at the expense of an obvious loss of charm of it.

So after Mortal Kombat (1995), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) and more recently the very successful animated film Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge (2020), the director Simon McQuoid is entrusted with the heavy task of rebuilding a new cinematographic saga capable of recovering all the strength of the Mortal Kombat universe including its violence.

From the very beginning, this new movie holds our attention because it has an excellent introduction scene in Japan in the 17th century with Hanzo Hasashi and his family who are going to face Bi-Han (Scorpio). The first action scene of the film sets the tone and benefits not only from an excellent choreography but also from a visual violence proper to the Mortal Kombat universe. The rest of the film takes place in the present day and introduces us to the kingdom of Outworld, which has beaten Earthrealm nine times in a fighting competition called Mortal Kombat. On Earth a former world MMA champion, Cole Young a descendant of Hanzo Hasashi is approached by a special forces major Jackson "Jax" Briggs to help him fight the Outworld fighters. Their first confrontation against Scorpion will prove fatal for Jackson "Jax" Briggs who will lose both his arms and will make Cole Young have to protect his wife and daughter while he has to find a certain Sonya Blade and thus prepare himself to face formidable opponents.

The universe of the game finds here a successful extension with many fight scenes more or less successful but benefiting from a careful choreography that corresponds well to the expectation that fans of the Mortal Kombat universe can expect. This visual respect of the Mortal Kombat universe is felt not only in the way the fights are staged but also by the allusions to dialogues from the latest video game Mortal Kombat 11. However, by wanting to offer an entertainment very close to Mortal Kombat, the scriptwriters Greg Russo and Dave Callaham forget to develop a real story and especially to create a really dangerous universe in spite of some very violent scenes close to the gore cinema that all the fans of this cult universe dreamed of.

The persistent impression throughout the story to give life to a movie close to those of the 90's is also felt and the movie reminds us of the productions made for specialized actors like Jean Claude Van Damme (who could be an excellent choice to play Johnny Cage in the sequel of this movie), Steven Seagal and many others. So what the film gains in terms of its very successful fight scenes and its perfectly portrayed characters, it loses in its desire to deliver a cult and effective action film. Mortal Kombat thus seems bland compared to the multiple action scenes of the excellent movie Nobody currently available on VOD in the United States. Indeed, it is not enough to align action scenes but to place them in a context in which they can completely hold our attention and make us feel a real danger.

This film also allows us to find around the new character from none of the games Cole Young (Lewis Tan) very well known characters from the universe of the cult saga as Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Kano (Josh Lawson), Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin as), Shang Tsung (Chin Han), Bi-Han / Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Hanzo Hasashi / Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), Kung Lao (Max Huang as), Mileena (Sisi Stringer), Reiko (Nathan Jones), Kabal (Daniel Nelson), Goro (Angus Sampson) and Nitara (Mel Jarnson). This great variety of characters that take on human traits is certainly an undeniable added value of this film that had everything to impose itself as a blockbuster in power if it had benefited from a better script and allowed the director to deliver an excellent action film close to those of the Marvel cinematic universe. In this respect, the character of Goro reminds much too much of the Hulk in some of his attitudes and his disproportionate size to be a simple coincidence.

Mortal Kombat
Directed by Simon McQuoid
Produced by James Wan, Todd Garner
Screenplay by Greg Russo, Dave Callaham
Story by Oren Uziel, Greg Russo
Based on Mortal Kombat by Ed Boon & John Tobias
Starring Ludi Lin, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Lewis Tan, Chin Han and Hiroyuki Sanada
Music: Benjamin Wallfisch
Director of Photography: Germain McMicking
Editor: Scott Gray
Production companies: New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster Productions, Roadside Attractions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date: April 23, 2021 (United States), May 12, 2021 (France)
Running time: 110 minutes

Seen on April 23, 2021

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