Mortal Kombat (1995)

Movie Title: Mortal Kombat

Year Released: 1995

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1h 42min

Genre: Action, Martial Arts

Director: Paul Anderson

Writer: Kevin Droney

Starring: Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Robin Shou, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto, Christopher Lambert, Trevor Goddard, Chris Casamassa, François Petit, Keith Cooke, Gregory McKinney, Frank Welker

Review: Lord Raiden (Christopher Lambert) handpicks three martial artists -- federal agent Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson), Shaolin monk Liu Kang (Robin Shou), and action movie sensation Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) -- and mentors them. After intense training, Raiden transports the trio to Outworld, the site of an inter-dimensional fighting tournament. There, the three humans must defeat the demonic warriors of the evil Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) -- or allow Tsung to take over the Earth.

The original cinematic rendition of Mortal Kombat is one that's silly, campy, yet dare I say...entertaining. This movie is weird in the sense that it is way too violent for kids, who like myself, grew up playing the equally violent video games. I was six when this movie came out, and I obviously didn't see it until I was much older. But I certainly played the games, where the violence was contained in its 8-bit Super Nintendo form. To be fair, I don't know who was playing this game back them, but it almost makes you wonder who this movie was made for. There is no way in hell that my parents would have allowed me to watch this film as a kid. But if I'm to sit here and evaluate it while watching this film as an adult, then I really did enjoy it.

This film starts off with Lord Raiden (Christopher Lambert) recruiting three human warriors to protect Earthrealm from Shang Tsung's attempted takeover. The patented Mortal Kombat tournament ensues, and all three of these warriors have their own motivations for participating in the tournament. Liu Kang seeks revenge against the tournament host Shang Tsung for killing his brother; Sonya Blade seeks revenge on an Australian crime lord Kano (Trevor Goddard) for murdering a fellow officer; and movie star Johnny Cage seeks to prove that his martial arts skills are real. The movie is loaded with special effects, which are obviously a bit dated now, but were pretty well done back in 1995. There are a myriad of silly characters, high-flying martial arts, and a story that makes sense within the realm of the video game. It could have been a lot worse (and it did when the sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, came out). The new version of Mortal Kombat (2021) is much more polished and updated in the special effects department, but this movie was really well before its time.

I highly recommend this film for fans of the video game franchise. By no means is it a perfect movie, but it certainly has entertainment value, and serves a purpose within the Mortal Kombat universe.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down the role of Johnny Cage to do Street Fighter (1994). His character in that film was Colonel Guile. Both Johnny Cage and Colonel Guile were created with Van Damme as the inspiration behind the character.


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