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Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat

Genders: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Thriller

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Ed Boon, John Tobias

Actors: Christopher Lambert, Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Year: 1995
Run time: 1h 41min
IMDB score: 5.6
Updated: 4 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Mortal Kombat

Genders: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Thriller

Imdb Score: 5.6

Runtime: 1h 41min

Released: 18 Aug 1995

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Ed Boon, John Tobias

Actors: Christopher Lambert, Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Company: New Line Home Entertainment

Imdb Link

Mortal Kombat Available Subtitles

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Trailer


Review

Fun Martial Arts/Fantasy Film

8/10 A number of martial artists converge in China, from which they're taken to a seeming alternate dimension to fight in a tournament that's only held "once each generation". This time, however, the stakes are even higher, as the outcome of the tournament will determine the fate of the Earth.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I've seen this film, and I've not yet had experience with any of the games, the other films, the animated series, the lunchboxes, or anything else related to the Mortal Kombat universe. After watching the first film, however, I definitely will seek out some of the other material, as I enjoyed the film quite a bit--it earns an 8 out of 10 from me. At this point, however, I can't compare it to any other instantiations of Mortal Kombat.

The film is basically a combination of a classic Hong Kong-styled martial arts actioner and a fantasy that leans slightly to the horror side of that genre. To the film's benefit, it's also not something that either director Paul W.S. Anderson or writer Kevin Droney take too seriously--the film is ultimately an adaptation of a popular video game, after all. There is a tongue-in-cheek, slightly campy sense of humor and playful cheesiness throughout the film, the humor being primarily fueled from two characters, Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) and Lord Rayden (Christopher Lambert). True, Lambert has a kind of almost smarmy campiness to anything he says or does, in any film, but for me, that's part of his attractiveness--it's a large part of what sold me on the Highlander films.

The fantasy aspect was something I didn't expect before watching the film. It was a very pleasant surprise. Being a huge horror fan, I was especially taken with the set design. The fantasy characters, such as Goro, and the fantasy traits of other characters, were well done and even subtle at times.

As for the fights, which are the propelling force behind the film, they're pleasantly varied and well choreographed, although having just watched Master of the Flying Guillotine (1975) again recently, I was slightly disappointed that the fights weren't more brutal and gory (and in fact, this is one of the areas where I subtracted a point). But they almost make up for the lack of violence but their imaginativeness, especially the fights with Sub-Zero and The Scorpion. That cleverness was required over brawn in most instances was also a nice touch.

Overall, this is a great film that any fans of martial arts or fantasy films should enjoy.

4 years ago

Street Fighter Correction

5/10 Following up the spectacular disaster of competing fighting game turned movie, Mortal Kombat succeeded where Street Fighter failed. Not a fantastic movie nor one that goes in my top ten, but Mortal Kombat (without a doubt) is one of the better game-based-films.

MK wisely avoids inventing plot in unwelcomed places and sticks to the game as frequently as it can get away with. Actually the biggest contradiction that comes to mind is Scorpion and Sub-zero on the same team. Die hard fans will call the screenwriter on this, the rest of us won't care.

All the mistakes Street Fighter made, MK avoided. Instead of colorful campy cameo-fest, Mortal Kombat comes across as a dark tale about a handful of martial artists shot with an exaggerated epic style with humorous undertones to provide comic relief every now and again. Then again, it is ironic that Street Fighter would feel cartoony and Mortal Kombat more concrete when looking at the style of the games (drawn sprites versus live actors). MK is a little silly when reproducing game effects and trademark moves, though now more and more films are moving in that direction (Matrix, anyone?)

The movie's premise is the first Mortal Kombat arcade game featuring a few plot hints (journey to Outworld) and a few characters from Mortal Kombat 2 (Kitana, Jax, a youthful Shang Tsung.)

Christopher Lambert and Cary-Hiroyuki Takawa make the most memorable impact as Thunder God Rayden and Shape-shifting Sorcerer Shang Tsung. Both ham up their performances just enough to remind us that we're watching a live-action video game, but they don't go overboard into Street Fighter's territory. The rest of the cast plays their part straight forward and makes their characters believable.

It's a quick and slick film, gets to the action and gets over with before you can ask too many questions. It's a pretty decent martial arts film, and an outstanding ‘video game' film. And in 1995, it was the best game-inspired film you could find. Today it's still in the top five.

4 years ago

Best video game movie to date

8/10 And that really says a lot about how the not-so-current trend of games-to-movies are received among critics. But this one was easily the best of all of them. This is easily in a league higher than the likes of Super Mario Brothers, Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Wing Commander, the Tomb Raider movies, Resident Evils 1 and 2, House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark, not to mention that this was one of the few that actually stayed true to the game, from the costumes to the tourney fights, from the characters to the plot lines, everything was done right, and it makes for one hell of a fight-'em-to-the-finish type movie.

But heed my warning: AVOID THE SEQUEL AT ALL COST! Just stick with the original. You won't be disappointed (well, maybe you will, just maybe).

4 years ago

Test your might

7/10 "Mortal Kombat" in my opinion is just an awesome movie. I think because I was such a fan of the video games, the days when Sega was the "thang". LOL, way before Playstation there was Sega! But, I really just loved the characters and this story just always appealed to me. I think because also my friends and I enjoyed acting the movie and video game out. No, we didn't kill each other, we just loved the characters.

Yes, despite this being a typical video game movie, I still think it was cool to watch, still to this day I don't mind watching. It has an awesome soundtrack, excellent moves, and a great look and feel to the movie itself. Just let go and have fun with it, if you enjoyed the video games, I think you should enjoy "Mortal Kombat". It's just cool to watch and keeps you on the edge of your seat in excitement!

7/10

4 years ago

Paul Anderson's only good movie.

6/10 I've always believed that video-games will never make good movies. But Warner don't seem to understand what a goldmine they're sitting on when it comes to Mortal Kombat. The franchise has so many characters, complex back-stories, and mythology that it honestly dwarfs the X-Men. There is a huge amount of potential in Mortal Kombat. This juvenile 1995 effort only scratches the surface of that potential, but still manages to be an enjoyable no-brainer.

I remember when this was released back in October 1995. It had been No. 1 at the US box office for three straight weeks. The audience did actually manage to go along with the silly, tongue-in-cheek hokum, and it worked. By modern standards this film is laughably awful. The CGI effects look like they were rendered on a Commodore 64, even when the technology to make much better was readily available at the time. I feel so old thinking about how dated and retro Mortal Kombat is.

A bunch of muscular tough-guys are called to an exotic island to take part in a fighting tournament that could decide the fate of the planet. The Outworld Emperor wants Earth as his new dominion and is one tournament away from victory. His mortal, demonic minions, led by the brilliantly over-the-top Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa as dark sorcerer Shang Tsung, must fight Earth's toughest warriors. All but three are expendable: Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya Blade. The film follows them as they fight their way through many colorful environments.

It looks and feels very much like an old-fashioned kung-fu movie. The production design is frequently wonderful, and there's hardly any unlikeable characters. Even 4-armed Prince Goro (brought to life by lovely puppetry) is fun to watch. The story however is paper-thin. Like I said, it could be so much more but the talent or motivation to make such a film in 1995 just wasn't there.

I've never been a fan of Paul Anderson (as a matter-of-fact, he's one of the worst filmmakers currently working), but his US debut is a fun, little pot-boiler with some funky 90s techno.

4 years ago