To give you the proper context of this review, let me first take you back to one certain evening in February of 1996. My head was bubbling with excitement as I sat in the back seat of my mom’s Toyota Previa on our way to my friend Brian’s house for his 10th birthday party. Growing up, Brian's birthday sleepovers were nothing short of legendary. Easily the event of the year. Last time, it was a Power Rangers costume party and VHS marathon. There was a WWF Royal Rumble video game tournament and we ate pizza until we puked. With all that in mind I couldn’t wait to see what Brian had in store for his tenth birthday. I knew we were in for something special. See a 10th birthday means something to a kid. It’s the first big threshold of a kid’s maturity and I’m grateful for our parents on that day because they truly let us live like men by letting us rent a PG-13 movie! MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! *cue the music* It was every ten year old boy’s fantasy come true. It was a back flippin’, fire breathin’, ice blastin’, shadow kickin’ get-over-heren’ good time of a movie. Thin plot? Sure. Iffy acting? Present and accounted for. But overall it made sense, I was thoroughly entertained and it gave me every shred of what I wanted and left me wanting so much more. As fate would have it, Mortal Kombat wasn’t just a hit with my friends. The movie went on to be lauded as the best video game movie ever made setting the bar for every game-centric film attempt to come.
After 25 years, a bevy of attempted sequels, copy cats and even some pretty well thought out independent projects, the prevailing thought still remains that the original Mortal Kombat movie is still the reigning, defending, undisputed champion of over the top ridiculous martial arts schlock. Until today that is. Today we welcome a new challenger. 2021 has brought us a brand new film version of every ten year old’s favorite bloody beat-em-up. In this version we follow a rag tag cadre of martial artists, soldiers and thieves charged with the responsibility of defending our Earthly dimension from a group of supernatural, super-powered assassins seeking to underhandedly eliminate their marked competition before the fabled Mortal Kombat tournament begins.
This movie has all the parts of a badass film. It’s got the blood, the fighting, brutality, fatalities and animalities of the series we’ve all come to know and love. It’s got a lot of our favorite characters like Kano, Liu Kang, Sonya, Jax, Raiden, Melina, Subzero, Scorpion, and Goro. Bwahahahahaha! (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist). It even starts us off with the promise of a plot filled with history, revenge and intrigue. Unfortunately it doesn’t do a very good job of juggling those parts and keeping them all in the air. The characters in are thinly written and the newly created main character we’re subjected to follow has less charisma than a box of packing peanuts. There are leaps in logic that are ridiculous even by MK standards and the grand plot ultimately misses the mark. In fact, the movie in general reeks of a production that was rushed to completion. Do not take this to mean that the movie is not worth seeing because the balls it manages not to drop, namely the action sequences and, oddly enough, Kano who’s a laughable, lovable, bawdy piece of scumbag garbage, make it worth checking out.
Overall there is plenty to like and dislike about this movie. It’s a strange, toasty mismatch of good and bad stuff that is entertaining but probably won’t be the highlight of today’s ten year old’s birthday party. In fact it’s probably better seen in a series of contextless clips on YouTube; which is how most ten year old’s consume media today, anyway. Mortal Kombat 2021 gets a 3... out of 5.


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