Mortal Kombat (2021) Review


Mortal Kombat (2021) is available to watch in theaters and on HBO Max. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

-Kris Madden

I’d like to preface this review by saying that this movie is a remake of a movie based on a fighting game franchise. That said, it was never written with Oscars in mind. 

I have no qualms with saying outright that this movie is ridiculously bad. It’s a special kind of bad that only a video game movie and an unwanted remake of a movie can be separately, and it’s both. The plot follows that of a fighting game that had a plot written as an afterthought, and it shows. The plot was never considered in this film, and almost aside from flipping one twist that surprised no one paying attention (or anyone who’s played one of the eleven games released since 1992) there is little intrigue in the story.  

The cast is largely unrecognizable actors that may be either b-list actors or washed up, it’s hard to tell with the quality of acting provided. There was never a time when I felt that the lines spoken were essential to moving the plot forward, rather characters weakly shared sarcastic quips and soundbites from the video game.  

Many fan-favorite characters make appearances and are quickly given otherworldly abilities such as an eye-laser and a fireball, with the only explanation being a unique birthmark that only combatants chosen at birth to fight in an ancient tournament, called Mortal Kombat. This tournament somehow dictates whether or not generic forces of evil are allowed to take over the Earth Realm. Unsurprisingly, Shang Tsung and his evil henchpeople cheat at the tournament and force the defenders of the Earth Realm into kung fu fights over the fate of the universe.

The US Government does not seem to think this interdimensional threat of a couple of ornery guys and a woman with a beaming Glasgow smile is worth sending more than two unarmed (one literally) Special Forces soldiers to defend Earth, though it should be noted that they did know of the threat. Perhaps the movie might have been shorter, better and made more sense if the Army sent an actual response instead of two washed up officers without so much as a radio to recruit a ragtag team of martial artists to kick and punch evil back into the Outer Realms.

Mortal Kombat (2021) is the kind of movie that makes you contemplate what the 55 million dollars could have been used for if this movie had never seen the light of day. 55 million dollars, for reference, could pay off the student loans of over a thousand Americans. The budget for this film could have added an expansion to a cancer research laboratory, and instead it was used to promote cancer in the film industry.  

This film is bad. It has few redeeming qualities aside from its unironic lack of redeeming qualities. This movie is best viewed understanding exactly what the viewer is in for from the get go, so lower your expectations lower than they are and check out Mortal Kombat on HBO Max or in theaters. Or give yourself oral surgery. The outcome is about the same, but Mortal Kombat probably won’t give you a horrifying infection. I cannot guarantee that though, so proceed with caution.