“Mortal Kombat” Review

Story posted April 28, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Colton Pleslusky.

“Mortal Kombat” is a classic gaming franchise that helped put fighting-style games on the proverbial video game map. From its classic fan-favorite characters to its over-the-top violent fatalities, the game has left its mark far and wide.

“Mortal Kombat” isn’t necessarily a stranger to the film industry either, and 2021 brought the audience a new cinematic take on the franchise.

With the last live-action film being released in 1997, the 2021 film has certainly improved overall production value compared to its hilariously corny predecessors. The film is unapologetically gory—as it should be—and brings a slew of characters and game references for fans to enjoy.

However, the film lacks one key thing: a coherent plot. The basis of “Mortal Kombat” is this idea of a great tournament deciding the fate of the Earth (or Earthrealm, as it’s called in the movie and games) against a sinister imperialistic realm called Outworld.

While all these important facets are present, the movie takes a different direction from the tournament.

The antagonist, the soul-sucking Shang Tsung, finds a loophole in the tournament rules by sending Sub-Zero to eliminate Earth’s champions. With that being essentially the plot, the tournament itself is only mentioned but never present within the movie. Coupled with iconic characters that perish in the fights throughout the film, “Mortal Kombat” leaves the viewer wondering if that’s actually it for them.

Some major antagonists who have full, fleshed-out stories in the game are killed by film’s end, which seems like a drastic misuse of such iconic warriors.

There are some redeeming qualities to some characters, though, with Kano being regarded as one of the best parts of the movie, as well as Scorpion and Sub-Zero getting the epic fight they deserved. Cole Young, the brand-new protagonist made for the movie, also has some decent development.

However, Liu Kang and Raiden are prime examples of important pieces that leave the viewer with something more to desire.

All that being considered, “Mortal Kombat” is still a lot of fun to watch. The fights are well choreographed and exciting as ever. While some of them seem to be thrown in there for the purpose of padding the run time, they do stay true to the games in that sense; just about looking at somebody wrong will spark a bloody fight to the death.

The costume design for many characters is also fantastic. Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Kabal and the like all have amazing looks sure to captivate fans.

The music stays true to “Mortal Kombat” and helps to immerse the viewer inside the video game universe. This includes the classic theme playing in the background of the film’s final fight, making an already great battle even better with the inclusion of such a memorable theme.

The cinematography is great as well; the fight scenes are all the more epic with great angles on the characters to really set their scene, especially Scorpion.

“Mortal Kombat” is most certainly setting up for a sequel, which will hopefully include the tournament with even more classic characters returning based on the dialogue.

Overall, “Mortal Kombat” is a movie with thrilling battles, cool costume design, and some half-decent characters, but it falls flat when it comes to telling a classic “Mortal Kombat” story as there is very little time for every character to be featured in their true glory.

Rating: 3/5


Colton Pleslusky is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email csp5289@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

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Colton Pleslusky

Fourth-Year / Telecommunications

Colton S. Pleslusky is a fourth-year from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a director and writer for the CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Department as well as the host on Nittany Stories and a co-host on Nittany Record Club alongside Emily McGlynn. He does behind the scenes tasks, including directing, producing, programming and more for the Centre County Report. To contact him, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).