'Mortal Kombat' (2021) - Movie Review

I have a weakness for cheesy fantasy/action/martial arts movies, and this one somehow managed to get 54% on Rotten Tomatoes (fairly low, but far higher than expected for this). After seeing it - I'm really not sure how it got that score.

The movie opens on the quiet 17th century domestic happiness of Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada - so typecast as the angry samurai or Yakuza he'll never see another role in his lifetime) and his family, which lasts approximately a minute and a half before Bi-Han (Joe Taslim - a good martial artist ... although that's not obvious with all the wires and special effects involved) shows up and brutally assassinates everyone ... but misses the young daughter, who is recovered by Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano, who I thought was good enough to be working in better films ...). Then we get to the modern day and meet Cole Young (Lewis Tan) who "used to be good" but is now a "human punching bag" in low rent MMA fights that he always loses.

Then we move on to the gathering-of-the-heroes (on Earth, aka "Earthrealm") while evil soul-eating emperor Shang Tsung of Outworld attempts to subvert the Mortal Kombat tournament system by killing Earthrealm's heroes before the tournament even happens. We have Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Kano (Josh Lawson), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), and Kung Lao (Max Huang). Did you recognize any of those actor's names? I didn't - and I'm a fan of martial arts movies. And the ones I did recognize (Sanada, Taslim, Asano) aren't exactly A-listers.

The acting is appalling - but then they seem to have been aiming for over-the-top. The ridiculous plot is used only to string together fight after fight after fight. The production quality on the fights is fairly good, but really, the fights are only there to allow for brutal dismemberings and the spectacularly gory "fatalities" that the video game series is so well known for. Fans of the video games might enjoy this, but even they may end up fast-forwarding the content between fights.