I will never understand the impulse of video game movies to hold back so much and put their efforts primarily into exposition, and introducing their audience to the game world as if the movie is the game. People need not have played Mortal Kombat in order to “get” a Mortal Kombat movie, but Mortal Kombat ’21 goes out of its way to lay out the rules in ways befitting a game rather than a narrative. (Incidentally this plays into my 100% correct argument that video games aren’t art, and it’s been well over a decade since the wankers at Penny Arcade poured disdain on Roger Ebert so I think it’s probably time we had that argument again.)
Mortal Kombat could just be a super violent action movie. Instead it’s a movie about a tournament that evil powers are hoping to preclude from being held, so said evil powers go around challenging potential combatants in said tournament to death matches, which basically means the bad guy stops the tournament from happening by…holding a tournament. It’s fucking dumb. At least the film’s big three Asian badasses – Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Tadanobu Asano, actors whose careers I’ve watched in the range of “years” to “actual decades” – come out looking good. Can’t say the same for the rest.
You can read my full review for The Playlist, and please do, because let me tell you the hoops I had to jump through to get my eyes on this movie.