“Mortal Kombat” (US Rated R)
Cast: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Hiroyuki Sanada
Where to watch: In Theaters/ HBO Max
Just like the martial arts fighting video game on which it’s based, people are going to find themselves in two corners while watching “Mortal Kombat.”
In corner number one: big time fans of the video game franchise, completely mentally-enslaved by the ideas initially presented in the game, and who expect any and every part of any adaptation to strictly adhere to every aspect of the game.
In corner number two: people who have no idea what “Mortal Kombat” is all about, or, more realistically, casual fans of the game, who may not even remember the characters’ names and back-stories, and are willing to forgive the movie’s creative team for taking liberties and attempting to tweak the storylines to make a little bit of sense in a limited time, without running on for four hours.
If you’re in camp two, you might want to avoid watching this with anyone in camp one. They simply won’t be silent. Not for one minute. And they’ll likely keep saying “this is dumb” or “this isn’t right” or “this isn’t what happened” or “this isn’t the way it goes in the games”. And you should expect that to continue for most of the nearly two hours of the film.
Otherwise, if you’re a fan of wild, ridiculous fantasy and outrageous special effects, combined with mixed martial arts (MMA), along with scenes of people ripping out their opponents’ hearts or spines or intestines, “Mortal Kombat” is actually super-violent, non-sensical fun. Just suspend all logic and reasoning!
Based on the immensely popular video game series that debuted in 1992 and has since spawned a couple of movies, comic books, and animated TV series, we now have this reboot of the movie franchise, released last week in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max.
Hunted by the fearsome warrior Sub-Zero, MMA fighter Cole Young finds sanctuary at the temple of Lord Raiden. Training with experienced fighters Liu Kang, Kung Lao and the rogue mercenary Kano, Cole prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions to take on the enemies from Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe.
To fans of the video game, that stuff will mean something. To everybody else, it absolutely won’t, and it doesn’t matter. Just sit back and marvel at the lengths people will go to, trying to gross you out. And enjoy the often-successful attempts at humor, especially at the hands of Australian actor Josh Lawson, who plays the reprobate Kano.
If over the past few weeks you’ve been binging on high(er)-brow Oscar-nominated films leading up to the Academy Awards, “get over here” and consider “Mortal Kombat” a bloody, gory palate cleanser.
And count the number of times you’re in the corner screaming “finish him” at the screen.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email email@example.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.