Nov 27, 2015

[Movies] Mortal Kombat (1995)

During the rise of fighting games on video game consoles, there were generally two main schools of thought at first. You have the CAPCOM players who loved the Street Fighter series like nothing else with their consistent move sequences that applied across multiple characters. But then came along the Mortal Kombat series that really tested the limits of just how gory a video game can be. The games seem a little tame by today's standards, but you kinda get the idea of what they were all about.

But strangely enough the game actually had enough of a plot tying things together for someone to think that making a movie out of all this was a good idea. And thus in 1995, we got the first Mortal Kombat movie. And since I say first it means that this thing actually managed to get a sequel.

Now this was well within the period of video game movies being almost guaranteed to be bad. And while I still don't think this movie was absolutely terribly, it definitely left a lot to be desired.

Synopsis: Mortal Kombat is a 1995 fantasy martial arts movie based on the video game franchise of the same name. It was written and directed by W.S. Anderson, who really seems to have a thing for working on video game derived movie projects.

As was the premise of the video game, the movie is focused on Mortal Kombat (roll credits!), which is supposed to be a fighting tournament between the representatives of Earth and the representatives of this other dimension known as Outworld. Should Outworld manage to win Mortal Kombat consecutive times, then Outworld becomes free to begin their invasion of Earth. And thus we have a bunch of different humans being our heroes as they've been gathered by Raiden (Christopher Lambert), the thunder god and protector of the Earthrealm, as it is known. But since he is not mortal, he can only guide and advise the humans since any direct interference in events would be in violation of the rules of the treaty that binds the two realms.

So at first glance it seemed like a good thing that the movie kept the core premise of the game. I suppose there was no reason to really tweak things since the whole point of both stories was to have an excuse to have different heroes fight one another. Throw this into a movie you have prime chances for some decent action in a controlled setting.

But given the demands on fight choreography, special effects and of course paying for the likes of Christopher Lambert, then you don't have much money left. And so I think the movie failed somewhat painfully because of the way we managed to "win" this scenario by having one decent actor and a lot of really hammy ones. Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) has a decent enough reason since he was already portraying a weird B-list movie actor but I don't know how to explain about the rest of things.

As is expected from such movies, there were all those contrived scenes where they have characters try to reenact key moves and other things from the game. So yeah, Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson) will actually grab someone with just her legs and all that campy nonsense. Yes, these moves are what make the characters from the game so memorable. But at the same time you have to admit that not everything looks great in live-action compared to the video games.

The plot gets pretty wonky the further you get into the movie and you'll the pain of how only a select number of heroes get good screen time while the likes of Sub-Zero (François Petit) and Scorpion (Chris Casamassa)  are reduced to generic pseudo villains who only get one real fight scene. Raiden being limited as an observer was a weird monkey wrench in plans.

At least Goro (Tom Woodruff, Jr. / Kevin Richardson) looked pretty cool. That was one heck of a rig.

Mortal Kombat has a rather convoluted plot, decent but certainly not amazing fight scenes and rather so-so protagonists. But we all watched the movie as Mortal Kombat fans and at the time didn't quite care as much about such quirks and inconsistencies. Thus the  movie gets 2 strange fight scenes out of a possible 5.


  1. Man, I don't think I can objectively look at Mortal Kombat critically.

    I loved it as a kid. I watched it (and the sequel) multiple times, to the point where I memorized all the lines. I haven't watched it as an adult though, so in my mind it's just this perfect thing. Hahaha!

    So maybe I'll avoid watching it again to preserve that illusion. @_@

  2. @BJ:
    With a Rotten Tomato score of 33%, yeah, best to stay away from repeat viewing, hehe. Ignorance is bliss!