Twenty-four years after the last appearance of a Mortal Kombat on the big screen, the Warner resuscitates the license with a promise: that of finally offering us a faithful adaptation to the video game that will also appeal to the uninitiated. To quote a famous line from Hot Shots! : “You would be wrong to sign a check if you have no cash in the cash register!” “.
A historic Street Fighter competitor, Mortal Kombat has built its reputation with the general public on one key element: its brutal and bloody accomplishments. In other words, if we want to adapt this fighting game correctly to the cinema, there is no choice: it has to be gory. In this logic, the first film adapted from the franchise, released in 1995, by Paul WS Anderson did not really please fans with its very family tone.
Except that over time, this first port has found its audience who finally see a slightly out of date adaptation, parodic limit, but which fully assumes itself as the pure product of the 90s that it is, taken from a franchise that does not has never been afraid to play on the grotesque. Not a successful film, but not a failed film and ultimately a regressive pleasure to see the characters come to life and swing as many tatanas as punchlines. And then Christophe Lambert embodying a freewheeling Raiden and the Technosyndrome theme quickly reached an aura, let’s say it, of worship for a whole generation. Yes, we ourselves are fervent defenders of this feature film and yes, we completely deny the existence of its sequel.
This long focus on the work of the father of the sad Monster Hunter seemed essential to us to introduce the subject that interests us: the latest adaptation stamped “more faithful” supposed to reconcile everyone, fans or not.
Not the Mortal Kombat we hoped for
The greatest warriors on Earth are brought together around the descendant of Hanzo Hasashi (Scorpion) at the dawn of a tournament that will decide the fate of humanity. Here is for the main common thread and sorry for what you think is a big reveal around parentage, but it’s literally written during the film’s introduction.
Another essential point of the plot which will not be important: the famous tournament. In the first game, this isn’t just a piece of the story, it’s the story! No Mortal Kombat without a tournament. Well, that’s what we thought.
The Warner seems to be thinking big for this relaunch of the universe since this feature film is only a prequel to the story as we know it. An appetizer of a little less than two hours to make us wait until the next film which announces the start of the tournament. We have the slight impression that there is deception on the merchandise. Nevertheless, this risky bet can be defended if it serves to properly introduce the characters, their motivations and their relationships so that one gets more involved in their future fights.
Too bad the practice is totally failed. Nothing is concrete in the final credits. The heroes are bland, apart from Sub-Zero and Kabal the villains remain anecdotal, as for the new character, Cole Young, he brings nothing that another popular figure of the games could not have accomplished, only better. Special mention to a brain dead Raiden. There remains Kano, a real pleasant surprise from the film which is entitled to the best scenes. If, as a fan, we had been told that one day he would be the savior of Mortal Kombat …
However, if there is one part where the film does not fit its specifications, it is the famous gore effect. As if the whole company had focused on the success of this single project, amateurs will find all the iconic shots, the cult lines – even spoken in voice-over because no other person could have said it in such a way. credible – and the famous fatalities. The latter are particularly enjoyable when the hat of Kung Lao gets involved. In short, if to make a good Mortal Kombat movie it was enough only to produce bloody combat endings, then this 2021 version is a success. Funny that one of the big missing dots from the ’95 movie is one of the only dots present in this one.
Not the movie we hoped for either
It remains to be seen whether, once respect for the game is put aside, the film could be sufficient on its own. Unfortunately at this level it is a real disaster.
To use the basic scenario, however, once again, quite simple, it takes much too complex paths here. Each new character arriving on the screen will thus give one of the elements of the plot, as if it was almost a reward for having reached this point or if, otherwise, he had no reason to. to be. Which is also the case in passing. Especially since these elements are not difficult and it would be enough for Raiden to decide to bring together warriors by explaining to them the why and how on the way to make everything more fluid. But he prefers to believe himself better than Christophe Lambert.
At no time does the film seem to want to have fun with its universe, yet thought of as a toy box for adults. Everything is there first degree while the whole is bathed in anything. The franchise has always assumed its absurdity and its facts as admitted, here we try to explain them, to offer them consistency, realism. Except that it does not hold; it can’t hold up given the basic hardware. From then on everything becomes sluggish, clumsy, ridiculous in spite of itself.
There are also heartbreaking dialogues and actors without charisma. You often get the impression you see amateur cosplay fans reciting their lines in two poor settings and wrestling with wobbly budget special effects. Even if it means obtaining this result, we recommend the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, much more pleasant to watch.
Finally, since earlier we were talking about respect around Mortal, a word on the Kombat side. At a time when films like John Wick or The Raid prove that we can obtain almost perfect exchanges of civilities as long as we have invested actors and a sense of editing letting blows express themselves, why inflict this film on us? ?
After the two beautiful sequences between Joe Taslim (Sub-Zero) and Hiroyuki Sanada (Scorpion), two actors with martial training, the director Simon McQuoid, whose first film is, spends his time cutting out his fights like to hide the lack of energy of the latter. It’s too fast, too soft and if it weren’t for the fatalities we would have already forgotten them. Like the film for that matter.
This new adaptation of the cult video game will be available on May 12 for digital purchase, but Warner Bros. does not rule out a later theatrical release.