From Games To The Big Screen

‘Mortal Kombat’ Has Been Released With Cross-Platform Viewing, Making The Film More Accessible Than Ever!


Patrick Deliz, A&E Editor

“Mortal Kombat” is not new to the film industry, however has been recreated in a fresh live-action adaptation, but does it do the game justice? 


 In 17th-century Japan, Lin Kuei assassins led by Bi-Han (played by Joe Taslim) kill the warriors of the rival Shirai Ryu ninja clan led by Hanzo Hasashi (played by Hiroyuki Sanada), including Hanzo’s wife and son. Hanzo kills the attackers before being killed by Bi-Han, resulting in his soul being condemned to the Netherrealm. Raiden (played by Tadanobu Asano), god of thunder, arrives and takes Hanzo’s surviving infant daughter to safety. 

In the present, the realm of Outworld has defeated Earthrealm in nine of ten tournaments known as “Mortal Kombat”; if Earthrealm loses the tenth tournament, the rules state it will be conquered by Outworld. However, an ancient prophecy states that the “blood of Hanzo Hasashi” will unite a new generation of Earthrealm’s champions to prevent Outworld’s victory. Aware of this, soul-eating sorcerer Shang Tsung (played by Chin Han), who has overseen the last nine victories, sends his warriors to kill Earthrealm’s champions, identified by a dragon mark, before the next tournament begins. One such champion, a former professional MMA fighter named Cole Young (played by Lewis Tan), is attacked alongside his family by Bi-Han, who now calls himself Sub-Zero. However, Special Forces Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs (played by Mehcad Brooks) rescues the Youngs, directing them to find his partner, Sonya Blade (played by Jessica McNamee). Jax stays to battle Sub-Zero but loses his arms in the process. 

Cole tracks Sonya to her hideout, where she is interrogating a captive Australian mercenary named Kano (played by Josh Lawson). She reveals that she and Jax have been investigating Mortal Kombat’s existence and that the dragon mark can be transferred to anyone who kills the original bearer. They are attacked by Shang Tsung’s assassin, Reptile, but Kano kills him with Cole and Sonya’s help. They travel to Raiden’s temple and meet current Earthrealm champions Liu Kang and Kung Lao before being brought to Raiden, who is critical of the newcomers. They are joined by Jax, who Raiden rescued and fitted with a set of mechanical arms. Shang Tsung attempts to attack the temple but is stopped when Raiden erects a shield. While Sonya trains and encourages Jax, Cole and Kano train with Kang and Lao to unlock their “arcana”, a special power unique to all dragon mark bearers. 

During an argument, Kano awakens his arcana, the ability to shoot a laser out of his right eye. Cole is unable to awaken his despite his persistence. Disappointed with Cole, Raiden send him back to his family, revealing that he is a descendant of Hasashi. Shang Tsung gathers his warriors, including Kano’s former ally Kabal (played by Daniel Nelson), to attack the temple. Kabal convinces Kano to defect and sabotage the shield. During the fray, Jax awakens his arcana, granting him strength and upgraded arms. Concurrently, the Youngs are attacked by Goro. Cole rouses his arcana, giving him a suit of armor and a set of tonfas. He kills Goro and helps repel the attack on the temple. Shang Tsung and Sub-Zero are infuriated when Raiden discloses Cole’s bloodline before he teleports most of the Earthrealm fighters to the Void, a safe space between realms. Lao, however, sacrifices himself defending Cole. 

Cole proposes a plan to force Outworld’s champions into single combat with Earthrealm’s champions before neutralizing Sub-Zero together, forcing the tournament Shang Tsung tried to prevent. Raiden agrees, giving Cole Hanzo’s kunai before transporting him and his allies to their targets. The Outworlders are defeated, and Sonya kills Kano, acquiring his dragon mark and her own arcana, the ability to fire purple energy blasts. Sub-Zero abducts Cole’s family to lure him into a one-on-one fight. Initially overpowered, Cole’s blood touches the kunai, releasing Hanzo as the vengeful specter Scorpion. Recognizing Cole as his descendant, Scorpion helps him overpower Sub-Zero and free his family before immolating Sub-Zero with hellfire. Thanking Cole for freeing him and requesting that he look after the Hasashi bloodline, Scorpion departs as Raiden, the other champions, and Shang Tsung arrive. 

Shang Tsung vows revenge as he sends his champions’ corpses back to Outworld before Raiden banishes him. Raiden declares his intention to train new warriors in preparation for the next tournament and assigns his current champions to recruit them. Cole departs for Los Angeles in search of Hollywood martial artist and movie star Johnny Cage. 


When it comes to video game movies, or any film adaptations for that matter, it is important to not stray too far from the original source material. The 1995 ‘Mortal Kombat’ was certainly attractive to both fans and movie goers – you had a good, old-fashioned martial arts movie starring a good cast for an arcade game. Problem was that it was totally weak in the fan service department.  

Very rarely, did the characters look anything close to their video game counterparts, not to mention some of the characters abilities were portrayed quite poorly. This is where the 2021 ‘Mortal Kombat’ shines the most. While not all of the costumes were not completely accurate, the outfits still matched their counterparts’ personalities and attitudes and color schemes. One look and you can instantly recognize who is who. Not to mention, all of the characters abilities remained intact.  

The 1995 ‘Mortal Kombat’ was a movie with a budget of $18M but had no room for as much CGI (computer generated images) as it featured. The practical effects, on the other hand, are hit-and-miss. There are some shots where it is solid and others where things could have been a lot better. The difference between the 1995 film versus its 2021 adaptation, weas that the 2021 ‘Mortal Kombat’ had a bigger budget – roughly $95M. Even still, not all of the budget was absorbed for CGI, the movie manages to mesh both CGI and practical effects and it does so incredibly well.  


As of May 9, 2021, ‘Mortal Kombat’ has grossed $37.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $34.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $72.5 million. 

Originally projected to gross $10–12 million in its domestic opening weekend, the film made $9 million from 3,073 theaters on its first day of release, increasing estimates to $19 million. It went on to debut to $23.3 million, topping the box office. In its sophomore weekend the film dropped 73% to $6.2 million, finishing second behind ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train’ ($6.4 million), and $2.4 million in its third weekend. 

In its opening international weekend, the film made $10.7 million from 17 countries, with the largest market being Russia ($6.1 million). In its second weekend the film made $5.7 million from 28 countries. 


I personally thought the movie was excellent and thrilling and love the fact that this film stayed more in tune with the game, compared to the 1995 film. Incredible fight scenes that stay true to the basis of martial arts and kept it original. I loved the costumes and instantly recognized some of the favorites like Sub Zero and Scorpion. While there were some things that could have been better, I definitely think this movie was well worth watching. 

RATING: 4.1/5