Review: ‘Mortal Kombat’ Remake Brings Video Game Franchise Back To Big Screen

Apr 23, 2021, 5:51 AM

WARNING: “Mortal Kombat” is rated R and some may find images/footage shown to be graphic in nature.

SALT LAKE CITY, UtahJoining us now to give parents some big-time warnings about New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers Studios’ new movie “Mortal Kombat” is Andy Farnsworth of KSL NewsRadio and KSL’s Fan Effect podcast.

If you’re a parent who may be unfamiliar with the “Mortal Kombat” game but you also have teenage children who want to see the movie, you will definitely want to know what they’re in for so you can make an informed choice on whether or not to let them watch it, which, in this case, is something Farnsworth would personally discourage.

Thirty years ago, some guys at the Midway video game company came up with a new arcade fighting game that would take over $1 billion dollars in quarters from me, my friends and a lot of other people. It was called “Mortal Kombat” and it was one of the first video games to allow you to not only draw blood from your opponent — yes it was super fake, cartoonish-looking blood, but still.

However, the biggest — and most controversial — thing about the game was that it also allowed you, if you were skilled enough with the controls, to actually “finish” your opponent off when you had beaten them. They were called “fatalities” and they were just that: fatal. You killed your opponent in various creative ways based on the character you were playing with.

That particular detail is important to understand as we discuss “Mortal Kombat” the movie. But I’ll explain that a bit later.

This is also not the first attempt to adapt “Mortal Kombat” for the big screen. There was a live-action movie released in 1995 and a sequel in 1997 that made some money, but it also upset many fans when the filmmakers toned down the blood and violence from the game in order to get a PG-13 rating and allow more people to see it. It appears that first-time director Simon McQuoid and writers Greg Russo and Dave Callaham had no intention of holding anything back this time.

So, in the 2021 version of “Mortal Kombat,” we follow washed-up MMA fighter Cole Young, a new character created just for this movie. Young’s got a wife and daughter, but he doesn’t realize that the dragon-shaped birthmark on his chest means that he is descended from a legendary warrior, whose line was supposedly wiped out hundreds of years ago. The mark means you are one of Earth’s greatest champions and destined to battle in a tournament that will determine the fate of the Earth, and maybe the universe too. I wasn’t too clear on that.

Young meets a few other champions and together they prepare for Mortal Kombat, which just happens to be the name of that tournament I mentioned. The rest of the film consists of scenes that put characters in position to fight, or the actual fights themselves.

I mentioned that I played the original arcade game way back in the day, but I haven’t played any version of the game in years. Thus I was actually surprised how many characters I remembered when they popped up in the movie. The filmmakers were very faithful to the characters’ video game look and they tossed in a LOT of easter eggs for fans of the game, including actual lines of dialogue from the game. I must admit I enjoyed that and was also impressed that the writers were able to incorporate a bunch of the game’s lore while still stringing together what I thought was a decent story premise to set up all the fights.

Ah, yes. The fights. As the video game series has progressed over the years, the graphics have gotten more realistic with each game release, the fatalities have gotten more disturbing, and this movie version of “Mortal Kombat” leans heavily into that. The fights were every bit as bloody and gory as I thought they might be. This movie is a hard R-rating for language, violence, blood and gore. Limbs get chopped off, limbs get exploded, holes are blown in people’s midsections, some get burned to death, someone takes an antler through the eye, people get sawed in half, eviscerated, a heart gets ripped out, and a head is smashed like a watermelon. Even characters who survive suffer open, bleeding wounds.

Director McQuoid has said they wanted to finally get the famous game fatalities on-screen and were planning on an R-rating all along, but they had to be careful because they came very close to the movie getting an NC-17 rating.

So what that means, really, is that I think you’ll have to decide whether you feel good giving the OK to any of your children to watch something like this. In my opinion, “Mortal Kombat” was made for people my age. It kind of felt like a love letter to long-time fans of the franchise because they were faithful to the game’s story, character looks and for better or worse, even the game’s brutality. Oh, and they even left the door open for a sequel.

I expected to hate this movie, but I’m surprised to say I didn’t hate it. I give it TWO out of FOUR stars but I absolutely would not recommend this to anyone under 18.

I saw “Mortal Kombat” in IMAX and it is opening in theaters, or if you choose you can watch it at home on HBO Max. If you subscribe to HBO as part of your cable or satellite subscription, you also have access to HBO Max. If not, it’s a $14.99-a-month subscription fee to watch it on the app. But be aware if you’re going to watch it on HBO Max that this is a film FULL of images that were not made for children, so please keep that in mind.

Thanks for watching! Hopefully, you & your family found this review helpful. I invite you to check out some of my other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV shows on KSLTV.com or the KSL-TV app. I’ll see you there!

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Review: ‘Mortal Kombat’ Remake Brings Video Game Franchise Back To Big Screen