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Mortal Kombat Movie Review - True to Game Violence

Comic relief breaks up constant fight action.

Reviewed by on Apr 22, 2021
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld watched Mortal Kombat the latest film version of the over-the-top video game. Bloody fights are key but it’s Josh Lawson as warrior/mercenary Kano who saves the film with snide comments. Read our movie review!

In Mortal Kombat, MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) who takes money to lose fights, has no idea why an Outworld assassin called Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) is out to kill him.   Fearing for his family's safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) when told to by Jax (Mehcad Brooks) a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Cole ends up at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, to train with others who bear the marking. There will be a final tournament between Earth and evil Outworld and we must win. If Cole can unlock an inner immense power, he has a chance to save his family and Mankind.

Key Outworld warriorsKey Outworld warriorsCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warning- This film is rated R for Crude References/Language Throughout and Strong Bloody Violence. Make your viewing choice with this in mind.

Last of the Bloodline?

It’s 1617 in Japan the happy family of famous warrior Hanso Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is murdered by Outworld immortal warrior Bi-Han, also later known as Sub-Zero (due to his ability to ice up anything or anyone).

Hanso (Hiroyuki Sanada) fights with the evil Sub-ZeroHanso fights with the evil Sub-ZeroCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

He also defeats Hanso but a hidden baby daughter is overlooked and the Hanso bloodline survives. The baby is saved by sorcerer Lord Raiden who descends in a lightning bolt and finds her. We learn that a descendant of Hanso’s will be key in a last tournament between Earthrealm and Outworld that will determine who rules the universe.

Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) appears in a thunderboltLord Raiden appears in a thunderboltCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

A Chosen One

Cole throws fights for money for his familyCole throws fights for money for his familyCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

In present day, MMA fighter Cole Young has talent but no real heart. He loses another fight while beefy Jax watches. He tells Cole that his “birthmark” of a dragon means he’s been chosen to fight in Mortal Kombat and explains what that is. Jax also carries the mark. Jax warns Cole that Sub-Zero is trying to kill all the Earth fighters before the tournament, and that Cole’s wife Allison (Laura Brent) and 12-year-old daughter Emily (Matilda Kimber) are in danger. Cole and family are at a diner when it starts snowing …in July and Sub-Zero appears. Jax rescues the family in his truck. He gives Cole the truck and tells him to find his fellow warrior Sonya Blade who can help him. Jax fights Sub-Zero but gets his arms frozen and broken off!

Jax's (Mehcad Brooks) arm is frozen by Sub-ZeroJax's arm is frozen by Sub-ZeroCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

In Search of Sonya

After finding a safe house for his family, Cole finds Jax’s friend Sonya all while Outworld leader Shang Tsung (Chin Han) gathers his forces that include a giant with four arms and fierce warrior women. Sonya is upset that she can’t reach old Special Forces buddy Jax.

Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) help ColeSonya Blade can help ColeCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

She further explains their past encounters with Sub-Zero when they realized he had superhuman abilities. She has researched the whole Mortal Kombat set-up. There have been nine tournaments. The tenth is coming and the winner will rule all. They must gather champions with the dragon mark. She is yet to have one. Top mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson) bears the dragon mark but is totally untrustworthy so she’s got him chained up. He is freed when Lizard, an Outworld fighter, almost kills the trio. Kano kills Lizard by ripping out his heart.  

Kano (Josh Lawson) wants his own superpowerKano wants his own superpowerCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Raiden’s Temple

To train, the group must go to Lord Raiden’s temple. Kano claims to know where it is and will get a friend to fly them there for 3 million dollars. Sonya pretends to have it and they are off. They bail out over a wasteland and learn that Kano has no idea exactly where to go. A stranger appears. He is fire-throwing champion warrior Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) and he takes them to the temple, once grand but now underground. An almost dead Jax is there being cared for. They meet warrior Kung Lao (Max Huang) whom Kano names Frisbee Hat due to the disc-like weapon he wears on his head. Shang Tsung arrives with warriors for an early rumble and isn’t impressed with the inexperienced group. Raiden has to send the Outworld group back home with his magic.

Champions Liu Kang and Kung Lao prepare to trainChampions Liu Kang and Kung Lao prepare to trainCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Intense Training

While Sonya tends the recovering Jax who has been given metal arms, Kano and Cole spar with Kung Lao and Liu Kang and are beaten constantly. Kano wants a superpower. The men are told that they must find their personal arcanas. They come from your soul. If they can’t, they will never win. Kano is teased and gets so angry that he can suddenly shoot lasers from one eye! When Cole can’t seem to find his arcana, Raiden sends him back to his family. In Outworld we meet warriors Kabal, winged huntress Nitara and others who want to strike early. Kabal, an old buddy/nemesis of Kano’s, shows up at the temple and wants to recruit him to the baddie team.

Outworld leader Shang Tsung (Chin Han) appears in the templeOutworld leader Shang Tsung appears in the templeCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Two Battlefronts

At home, Cole protects his wife and daughter from huge, 4-armed Goro. Even wifie jumps in with an axe. Seeing his family endangered, Cole develops his full power which includes a cool suit and weaponry.

Cole (Lewis Tan) fights four-armed Goro to save his familyCole fights four-armed Goro to save his familyCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Meanwhile, we see that Kano has joined the bad guys as an intense fight goes on at the temple with Outworlders vs. our champions in full swing. Jax discovers his arcana and suddenly his wimpy metal arms turn into massive Iron Man-like fists of fury.

Jax (Mehcad Brooks) finds his arcana and gets strong mechanical armsJax finds his arcana and gets strong mechanical armsCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Raiden transports Cole back to the temple where he joins the fight. Cole’s family will again be threatened. Some champions will survive and some will die even when Honso returns from the Netherworld as Scorpion to help Cole fight Sub-Zero.  Will Sonya ever get her own dragon marking? Will enough Earthrealm champions survive to look for others?

Sonya (Jessica McNamee) fights with KanoSonya fights with KanoCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Wrapping Up

Fans say the 2021 version of Mortal Kombat is a more faithful game adaptation than previous efforts and beware! That means more movie blood and guts everywhere. Cool special effects and battle action make the film totally watchable although anything, plotwise, is an excuse for another fight.

Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) freezes Jax's weaponSub-Zero freezes Jax's weaponCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Opening scenes in which Hanso has to discover that longtime enemy Sub-Zero has frozen/killed his wife and son are heartbreaking and really stir up rooting interest for his character but he doesn’t re-appear until the end of the film and development of lead character Cole Young’s family is more sparse and less emotional. 

A real comic-relief savior for the movie is actor Josh Lawson, Tate in the T.V. series “Superstore”, who plays wise-cracking Kano with flair. He’s a real scene stealer but that isn’t too hard with all of the mostly-melodramatic and corny dialogue much of the cast is saddled with. The film takes itself way too seriously and sometimes makes no sense. For example, if this 10th tournament is actually the very last then why are the champions looking for more of their kind at the end? Or, was the big battle at the temple not really the tournament but another warm-up?  Not clear.

Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) whips up an ice stormSub-Zero whips up an ice stormCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Since Mortal Kombat has come back mostly to please fans of the game and perhaps fans of other truly violent wargames, the movie should work for them. With the addition of the fun Kano character, well-played by Aussie actor Lawson, I overall semi-enjoyed it. We award three stars.

Mortal Kombat Movie Rating: 3

Mortal Kombat Movie Review - True to Game ViolenceCourtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

See Mortal Kombat in theaters and on HBO Max starting April 23rd