You'd think going into a Mortal Kombat film you'd know exactly what to expect right? Well, this film delivers most of what you would probably list down apart from one key thing missing; actual "Mortal Kombat" itself. It's certainly watchable however, it commits the cardinal sin of not learning to walk before running off and trying to set up a new series of films instead of just focusing on the here and now. Damn the MCU for making other studios jealous of its success and attempting to go down the same route.

MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan), accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage-or why Outworld's Emperor Shang Tsung (Chin Han) has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family's safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) at the direction of Jax (Mehcad Brooks), a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang) and rogue mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson), as he prepares to stand with Earth's greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.

Opening with a brutal and well-choreographed fight sequence between Hanza Hasashi and Bi-Han, giving me high hopes for what would follow, Mortal Kombat fails to live up to the high standard set right from the off instead descending into cartoonish violence. Obviously to be expected for a film based on a fighting video game full of iconic blood-soaked fatalities however, when your film starts with its strongest moment and spends the rest of the runtime faltering in trying to recapture it, there's definitely some issues that need ironing out.

The fight choreography starts to feel sluggish and the editing is so choppy by the end of the film that it really does make you question how they thought they were fine in comparison to the film's opening. Fans of the games will be pleased at the levels of violence throughout; limbs being lost and bodies literally being split down the middle as foes meet before anything even resembling "Mortal Kombat" appears on the horizon. It importantly has fun with bringing these characters and their respective move sets to life on the big screen, my personal favourite being the nod to the classic leg sweep in one of the film's most light-hearted moments.

When it comes to the acting on show in Mortal Kombat, there isn't anyone who stands out as much as Josh Lawson's Kano, a loud-mouthed mercenary with a penchant for violence and a barbed tongue quick with the insults. Lawson knows exactly what kind of film he's in and goes all out with a scene-stealing turn as one of the original characters from the games. The rest do a decent job with a screenplay that feels as if it didn't take too long to complete, the fighting where the film really comes to life and showcasing the talents of Lewis Tan, Joe Taslim and Hiroyuki Sanada in particular. Taslim and Sanada share the two best fight sequences that bookend the film and it's great to see two actors performing martial arts so elegantly in such a mainstream film.

Another character the film would feel incomplete with is the iconic Mortal Kombat theme we've all screamed out loud at one point in our lives (if you haven't you should definitely try it). Benjamin Wallfisch is the man tasked with such a duty in this film and he manages to produce one or two moments in the score that had me punching the air, feeling like such a throwback. 

It's what the film manages to do well, feeling like a throwback to the films from the 90s while feeling modern with much better visual effects and fight sequences. I have two requests for the sequel if it gets greenlit; can we actually have some "Mortal Kombat" and, with how that poster at the end teases a certain character to appear, can they get Nicolas Cage signed on because that would be epic.

Verdict: ★★★


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