Saturday 8 May 2021

Mortal Kombat

My earliest memory of playing Mortal Kombat is during a gap year in the early nineties. I would visit a local seafront amusement arcade to play the newest releases and share a KFC bucket with friends.

Mortal Kombat instantly captured our imaginations with its lurid digitised animations.

The video game franchise’s signature fatalities - sparking a moral panic - a gory alternative to Street Fighter II in arcades and on Nintendo and Sega 16-bit home consoles. The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive was the cool kid on the block and the console of choice for an uncensored experience.

The latest Mortal Kombat live-action movie adaptation arrives in cinemas and on HBO Max. Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, returns from Victorian times for a bloody showdown.

Guest post by Nick Smith

In the illustrious and diverse history of movies, we’ve seen epics based on the works of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and The Wiggles. Simon McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat is not a literary adaptation. Spawned by a video game, it has pretensions to be something greater – a Hollywood blockbuster with a Chosen hero, a comedic sidekick, people spinning impossibly through the air and an unsympathetically evil bad guy. It does not achieve that greatness.

Mortal Kombat isn’t as facile as last year’s Jui Jitsu, which was a string of skirmishes calling itself a movie. But it still lacks the depth to make it a stand-out flight flick. The humour helps; the hero Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is fallible, Kano (Josh Lawson) is a splendidly despicable loudmouth and there’s even a joke about the spelling of the title.

Mortal Kombat follows a Hollywood action formula without really understanding why. The archetypal hero has a family so that the audience can relate to him. Here, Cole’s family is an afterthought. The Chosen One should be reluctant, otherwise what’s special about him being chosen? The prophecy should be deep-seated in the life and culture of the Outworld, not a couple of lines of dialogue that are present because, hey, that’s what other, successful movies do.

This new take on a 29-year-old franchise is entertaining, there are some satisfying salutes to the original games and the actors are likeable. Jessica McNamee stands out, doing her best to give token tough girl Sonya Blade some edge. The most novel aspects are the gory deaths - a crushed head is particularly memorable - and the redemption of amputee veteran Jackson ‘Jax’ Briggs. He learns to overcome his depression and live with prosthetics. Now that is a successful adaptation.

Watch Mortal Kombat (affiliate link).

What are your Mortal Kombat memories? Let me know in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated for spam. Stay on topic and do not embed links. Keep it family-friendly.

Thank you.