Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mortal Kombat - 2/5

As a child, this film was a life for me. My friends and I reenacted the fight sequences. We rooted for the heroes, despised the villains, and generally breathed in the real life versions of our favorite characters (mainly Sub-Zero and Scorpion since, you know, they were ninjas of course). It's been many, many years since I've seen it as I've moved on to the foreign films it pulled its influences from and learned my distaste for director Paul W.S. Anderson. With the new "Mortal Kombat: Legacy" internet series renewing my faith in seeing my video game heroes again, I felt it was time to revisit my child hood friend in all of its cheesy glory.


Lui Kang (Shou) is coming back home to the Temple Of Light to avenge his brother,s death at the hands of black sorcerer Shang Tsung (Tagawa). He must team up with a egotistical actor Johnny Cage (Ashby) and a Special Forces agent Sonya Blade (Wilson) under the guidance of a mystical god Raiden (Lambert) to enter a generational tournament called Mortal Kombat to gain access to the sorcerer. There they find that not only do they each have personal vendettas to fulfill, but that winning the tournament is a must to prevent the world from coming under invasion from a mysterious force in a place called Outworld.

Childhood nostalgia could not save this film from my now fairly critical eye. There was a sense of wonderment as a child that has now changed to a sense of bewilderment as an adult. The script is an obvious knock off of the general style and plot of a mythical "Enter The Dragon" and lacks the wit to make its mythical side even seem real in that realm. The dialogue is great for 13 year-olds with its simple innuendos and childish humor and the characters are simplified to simple moral lessons without the complexities of seeming like 'real' people. Granted, the video game this film is based on (particularly the first one, although the film pulls some elements from the second too) is pretty basic in plot, but it would have been nice to flesh out these characters to fulfill the film's depth. Not to mention that despite some clever casting choices (although Wilson as Sonya is an obvious weak point), the film is just horribly acted. No script and a visual director that lacks charisma with actors killed this film in this aspect.

That being said, "Mortal Kombat" is a fun film. It had killer special effects (at the time), although I feel sometimes the film relied too heavily on them, and Anderson shows some of his patented visual flair to carry it through as a watchable film and not a complete loss of time. Watching it certainly has its charm, but its lacking script and force fed narrative hurts the film immensely. Not to mention there are moments where the film is underwhelming like most of it's sub-par martial arts sequences. This leaves us with a massively disappointed film version of one of the best fighting games ever made. It has its moments, fun and all, but never gets above being a youth friendly mythical fighting film.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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