Mortal Kombat


Once every generation, there is a tournament known as Mortal Kombat, which was designed by the Elder Gods to limit invasions between realms. If the forces of Outworld win the tournament ten consecutive times, the Emperor will be able to invade and conquer Earthrealm. Thus far, Outworld has won nine straight victories, making the upcoming tournament the tenth and possibly final one for Earthrealm. The former Shaolin monk Liu Kang and his comrades, Hollywood movie star Johnny Cage and Special Forces agent Sonya Blade, among others, must risk their lives and overcome their powerful adversaries in order to win the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament, or condemn Earthrealm to eternal damnation.

Although each combatant was handpicked by Raiden to compete in Mortal Kombat, each has his or her own reason for competing in the tournament. Liu Kang seeks to avenge the death of his younger brother Chan, who was killed by Shang Tsung in battle. Sonya Blade is after notorious and cold blooded killer Kano, who is responsible for the death of her partner before Jax. Johnny Cage is competing to prove that he is a true martial artist, and not the fake that the tabloids have made him out to be. Regardless of their individual agendas, they are recruited and sent to a pier in Hong Kong, where they are taken to Shang Tsung’s island, the site of the tournament. While they are on the boat, they encounter Shang Tsung’s henchmen, Sub-Zero and Scorpion, bitter rivals who are under the sorcerer’s mind control. Before any pre-tournament fisticuffs can take place, however, Raiden, God of Thunder, intervenes with two lightning bolts, then takes his chosen three aside and explains to them just what they are up against.

Upon their arrival at the island, the Earth Warriors are welcomed by Shang Tsung and the first rounds of the tournament begin the next day. Behind the scenes, however, Shang Tsung expresses his concern to the Mortal Kombat champion, Goro, that Liu Kang is competing in the tournament and that the Emperor’s daughter, Princess Kitana, may betray them by allying with him. Despite their concerns, the Outworld warriors draw first blood, with Shang Tsung absorbing the souls of the losing Earthrealm warriors. Sonya, Johnny Cage, and Liu Kang go on to defeat Kano, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero, respectively.

Finally, Goro enters the tournament and posts a long series of victories, killing their friend Art Lean. Cage, furious at Lean’s death and eager to protect his remaining friends (especially Sonya), goes to Tsung and challenges Goro. Tsung, both put off by Cage’s arrogance and amused by his courage, grants the request. Before Johnny Cage faces off against Goro, Shang Tsung makes the stipulation that, at any time, he himself may choose to challenge any one warrior at a venue of his choosing. Raiden appears and expresses outrage and shock at Cage seemingly running head first into a conflict with an almost unbeatable opponent, but after Cage leaves, he expresses amused pride that one of his fighters has finally learned to take fate into their own hands. Johnny Cage defeats Goro, sending him falling over the edge of a cliff. Shang Tsung then kidnaps Sonya to Outworld, invoking his earlier stipulation. Raiden explains to Liu Kang and Johnny Cage that they must go into Outworld without him, and, because Sonya cannot defeat Shang Tsung in combat, one of them must defeat Shang Tsung.

After Liu Kang successfully fends off an attack from Reptile, he and Johnny Cage are met by Kitana, who reveals the truth about Outworld and her lineage, thus confirming Shang Tsung’s suspicions about her. The three, disguised as monks, enter the castle tower where Sonya is being held captive. As Kitana and Johnny Cage free Sonya, Liu Kang challenges Shang Tsung to Mortal Kombat. The fiercely fought battle ends in victory for Liu Kang and Earthrealm, and freedom for the souls of all the warriors beaten in battle and absorbed by Shang Tsung.

Liu Kang and Kitana happily stride arm in arm back to Earthrealm alongside Johnny Cage and Sonya, whose previous animosity towards each other has given way to a blossoming affection. Raiden catches up to them and congratulates them for their efforts in Mortal Kombat. The celebration is cut short, however, by the arrival of the Emperor, who threatens the people of Earthrealm. Raiden and the four warriors assume fighting stances as the screen cuts to the credits.


As a fan of the Mortal Kombat games, I was ecstatic when this film came out. For a long period of time, it remained the best video game-to-film adaptation, and if I’m not mistaken is the best fighting game-to-film adaptation.

I’ve read varying reviews that have said there should have been bigger name actors in this film. To them I say poppycock! Big name actors do no a good film make.

Robin Shou would have been my second choice for Liu Kang, second only to Ho Sung Pak, who portrayed him in the original game. While Shou’s acting laves a little to be desired, his marital arts skills more than make up for it.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is another perfectly cast actor as Shang Tsung. Apparently, they directors didn’t want to deal with the make up that went along with making Shang the old man that he is during this point of the MK saga, but it works for this film.

Bridgette Wilson’s portrayal of Sonya Blade seemed a bit cold and robotic. I’m not the only one that is of that belief. Maybe they should have waited until Cameron Diaz recovered from her broken wrist and could resume playing Sonya.

I’m not sure how I feel about Christopher Lambert as Raiden. I know I like him better than James Remar in the sequel, but I’m not sure if he’s the right choice. Granted part of that may be related to the script. For a character with as much power as Raiden, you would think they’d have given him something more to do than just pop in and out of a couple of scenes. He’s Raiden, not Yoda. Let the thunder god fight!

Scorpion and Sub-Zero were the two biggest disappointments in this film. Scorpion had a decent fight with Johnny Cage, but for one of the best fighter in the game, he should not have met such an end, and even if he did, he should have come back to haunt Johnny Cage. As far as Sub-Zero goes, he barely even fought. Other than just putting him on screen, they might as well have left him out of the film.

The special effects at the time of the films release may have been state of the art, but today they seem like one of those bad Sci-Fi Channel movies. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, just an observation that I never noticed before.

I still do not understand the whole Reptile in the skeleton scene. It appears as if he crawls in there and gets trapped. Then after Liu beats him he turns to bugs. This is never explained.

Having said all this, there is plenty to love about this film. For instance, the fact that it made it to theaters and wasn’t the catastrophe that Street Fighter (among others) was, is something a feat in itself. The plot is solid, maybe a little variant from the game, but I guess they had to in order to make a full length feature film.

There are those that felt there should have been more blood. In a way, I think so, too, but then I realize that this was marketed towards everyone, so lots of blood and gore would not work. They made the right decision as far as that goes.

Martial arts and Mortal Kombat fans will definitely love this, as will most who just want to see a good action-adventure flick. I’m sorry for those looking for some sort of romance in this, though. You’ll be disappointed. Sonya says it best, “A handful of people on a leaky boat are going to save the world.” That sums up the film in a nutshell.

4 out of 5 stars

8 Responses to “Mortal Kombat”

  1. […] Shou has a bit of an ironic role here. You may remember in Mortal Kombat, as Liu Kang, he was a bit of a rebellious "chosen one". Here, he’s on the […]

  2. […] Lambert will best be known to me as the Raiden in Mortal Kombat (a role he was much better suited for than his successor). In Highlander, though, Lambert […]

  3. […] best way I can describe tis film is that it is a mix of Mortal Kombat and the Charlie’s Angels […]

  4. […] the world plot. The best video game flick that Street Fighter could learn from, however, has to be Mortal Kombat, I know that’s the last thing Fighter freaks want to hear as it is the Kombatants that  […]

  5. […] for the perfect video game movie. If I’m not mistaken, the current gold-standard is still Mortal Kombat which, while I liked it, really isn’t that great. So, that tells you the kind of product […]

  6. […] Enter the Dragon, I couldn’t help but think of the plot to Mortal Kombat with a hint of Dr. No. That it to say, a mysterious martial arts tournament on a remote island run […]

  7. […] Wilson’s face! That’s me being honest. There is a reason she got the role of Sonya in Mortal Kombat (though she wasn’t the first choice), and it is because of her body. As an actress, […]

  8. […] worth it? Does it live up to the esteemed franchise? Is this the first good video game movie since Mortal Kombat? Let’s find out, shall […]

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