April 23, 2020 (NYC)-Mortal Kombat’s serious approach pays off. The long awaited revisioning of the Mortal Kombat movie series hits theaters and HBO Max today, and it is a good time. From its opening sequence it is clear that this is not the family friendly version of the video game inspired, martial arts action and fantasy film of two and half decades ago. This is a serious, violent, and gore filled take on the source material. Among the reasons that the film works is because it does not live in two worlds, unsure if it is a kid’s film or adult action vehicle-this material is intended for mature audiences, and it is Rated R.
This film’s incarnation involves the journey of mixed martial artist, Tyler Cole (Lewis Tan) to assist the forces of Earthworld against the evil forces of Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung (Chin Han). Along that journey he learns the truth about his “birthmark”, and family heritage, as he attempts to save the world through “Mortal Kombat“.
Lewis Tan, of Wu Assassins’ fame, is a charming, handsome leading man. He is a talented actor and action star. With his charm, gravitas, and fighting skills it is no wonder the studio entrusted the lead in this high budget film to him.
While Tan’s character is clearly the heart of the film, there is a large supporting ensemble of interesting characters played by a very adept cast. Joe Taslim’s, Sub-Zero, is lethal and merciless. He is a gifted martial artist, and action star whose presence in the film is an integral part of its success.
I must admit that my exposure to the franchise was limited. Aside from interviewing stuntwoman and Taekwondo Olympian, Dana Hee, about her work on the original series I had no prior relationship with the video games or films. I came in with no pre-judgments about the history of the source material. I found the film to be visually compelling. The special and visual effects were extremely well done. The action was plentiful. The film is serious; however, it does not take itself too seriously.
While the movie contains many elements of fantasy and CGI, the filmmakers do a good job of not sacrificing the authenticity of the fight sequences. Tan, Taslim, as well as Power Rangers’ Ludi Lin, are all true martial artists and action stars. This authenticity elevates the level of action and martial arts in the film above that of many in this genre. While there are many liberties taken in the fight scenes, they fit in with the overall motif of the film-this is not a historical action film, like Ip Man; it is a fantasy based action film.
Whether Mortal Kombat devotees will be satisfied with this vision of the story will soon be apparent. Whether the success of this film will spawn its own series of sequels and spin-offs also remains to be seen, but appears likely. What is apparent is that Warner Bros and New Line Cinema created a visually interesting, action packed, martial arts action fantasy that is well worth viewing.
Mortal Kombat’s Serious Approach Pays Off
-Review by Marc Zirogiannis
The R Rating is for Strong language, violence, and gore
|Directed by||Simon McQuoid|
|Music by||Benjamin Wallfisch|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|