REVIEW: MORTAL KOMBAT (2021)

I finally gave in and watched the remake of Mortal Kombat. To be honest, hearing that Johnny Cage was not going to be a part of the remake – and the fact I really liked the 1995 original and have grown to detest remakes – had me considering passing on this movie altogether.

But curiosity finally wore me down and I queued it up on HBOMAX the other night. The overall verdict: It was okay. It isn’t a film I’ll watch a second time unless its on when I walk into the room and I have nowhere else to be. So, let’s break it down Sergio Leone style.

THE GOOD

I liked the back story between Scorpion and Sub-Zero, it explains a lot of their hatred for one another that the 1995 film never got into. Plus, I really like Hiroyuki Sanada a lot as an actor and have ever since I watched him in the films The Last Samurai and Sunshine. I also liked this version of Sonya Blade a lot better than the 1995 edition.

The special effects were obviously better, 26 years of innovations in CGI makes that an easy call. And I have to admit this version of Kano was better. The 1995 edition was just a pig for the sake of being a pig so we’d hate the guy.

THE BAD

I didn’t care for the new Lord Raiden at all.  He was as flat and as uninteresting as James Remar’s turn as Raiden in the 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Christopher Lambert, as he did with Connor MacLeod in Highlander, really made the character jump off the screen. Not having Johnny Cage in the film was a negative, as was taking away the “Chosen One” title from Liu Lang and instead creating the Cole Young character and making him a descendant of Hanzo Hasashi. The “tournament” concept in the 1995 film was pulled off much better than what they did in 2021. And Shang Tsung in 2021 was even flatter than Raiden in 1997. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa was much better in the role.

THE UGLY

Where was Kitana? And what was up with giving Johnny Cage the Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens treatment? A few measly seconds of screen time at the end and in Johnny’s case, all we see is a movie poster with his name on it. Ughhh. If they are at least going to bring Johnny in on the next film, assuming there will be one, I hope he gets better treatment than he got in 1997 (killed off in the opening scene) or what Luke Skywalker got from Rian Johnson in The Last Jedi (character assassinated by the director/screen writer).

Like I said above. Overall, an okay film. But if I find myself jonesing for some Mortal Kombat, I’ll queue up my 1997 version on DVD.

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