Almost Super: Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat 1995
I hit a little bit of a movie block this past week, possibly due to watching The Dark Knight Rises, also possibly due to a couple movies that I plan on watching but haven’t been in the mood for. That, and I’ve been under the weather for the past few days and haven’t been in the mood for much of anything. So I put a call out on Twitter, and the only suggestion was Mortal Kombat. I was a big fan of both the game and the movie when it first came out, but haven’t watched it again in years. I believe the last game I played was Mortal Kombat 4, and didn’t play very much of that. The movie tosses in a ton of references to the game, which isn’t always a good thing, the fight scenes were pretty well done, and while it’s a little bit more campy than I remember, it’s still a pretty fun watch. Especially if you’re a fan of the Mortal Kombat games.
I absolutely loved that the first thing that you hear, before even the production credits is the famous “Mortal Kombat” scream that leads into the iconic theme song. That song, and the music in general is one of the best things in this movie, an early entry into the techno music genre, mixing in actual game sounds like “Fight”, “Test Your Might”, and others. Jena didn’t watch the entire movie, she just came down towards the end, but even she was sucked in by the music, saying that the music was good. Not only that, but she even enjoyed the fight scenes she saw, saying that the “human had good moves, but the ninja had bad moves” referring to the fight between Liu Kang and Reptile. I didn’t think every track was a winner, but the majority of the movie is quite unique, but also quite fitting.
One thing that I thought was both the best and the worst part of the movie was all of the references to the game. Every time one of them came up, it was a big “yes!” slash “aha!” moment. I’m very familiar with the game, so I’m pretty sure I caught all of them, or at least most of them, and they all made me laugh or at least smile. The problem is that most of the time they stand out as being so incredibly shoehorned in. Like all three times they said “flawless victory”, Johnny Cage’s “friendship” finishing move with the autographed picture, Liu Kang’s flying kicks, panning up the tower, and the “get over here” line. They managed to get almost every one of the character’s signature moves into one of the fights.
Of course, aside from the music, the fights are the best part about the movie. And the whole tournament concept is the perfect excuse to string one fight after another. Even though it takes about half an hour before we get to the first real fight, once they start, they’re almost non-stop until the end of the movie, with very little exposition in-between. I think there was a little over-use of slow motion, but aside from that minor quibble, the fights were all well choreographed and exciting. They made great use of all of the different character’s signature moves aside from a couple of the more unbelievable ones, like the flying kick I mentioned earlier, Johnny Cage’s shadow kick, and most of Scorpion’s moves. There is some early CGI in this movie, and it holds up very poorly. Nearly everything that’s done with computers looks like complete and total crap, especially Reptile – a chameleon-like lizard creature. The one exception is Goro, who is done with mostly puppetry and animatronics, and looks absolutely fantastic, aside from the limited mouth movement.
The characters are all very one-dimensional, which is fitting based on the kind of game it came from. There are three humans that end up banding together for no real reason. There’s my favorite, Johnny Cage, the shallow martial arts actor who is accused of faking his fight scenes, there’s the destined one, Liu Kang (who almost 15 years later crosses over to play a part in the Street Fighter movie), who is fighting to avenge his brother, and there’s the cop, Sonya Blade, who is after the criminal Kano who killed her partner and sticks around to save the world or something. The three are helped along in the tournament by Raiden played by the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert. He’s the god of lightning and thunder, and is mostly there to guide them to victory, and for occasional comic relief. I thought the voice he used at times was really off, like a cross between Batman and Peter Lorre, but next to Johnny Cage, he had some of the funniest moment. If you take this movie for what it is: a movie based on a fighting game, it’s a lot of fun. It’s shallow and cheesy at times, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, poking fun and cracking little jokes wherever it can. And on top of that, it’s got some kick-ass fight scenes, and a lot of them to boot.
I’m including this movie on this site for several reasons, there are all sorts of superhuman powers on display, both from the supposedly human entrants in the tournament as well as the interdimensional gods. It has clearly defined heroes and very colorful villains, especially the three ninjas Sub Zero, Scorpion, and Reptile. While it’s not based on a comic book, it’s based on a video game, and has a distinct visual style to it. And also, because I wanted to watch and review it, which is really the most important point. I had a lot of fun re-watching this movie. There’s no way to take it seriously, but there’s a lot to enjoy in it if you’re in the right mood. Worth checking out for sure. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.