GET OVER HERE….because the blockbuster season is here and it’s delivered one hell of a bang thanks to the arrival of the much anticipated Mortal Kombat adaptation and this one will seriously crank you up thanks to its spine-tearing action and in your face fatalities!
A washed-up mixed martial arts fighter named Cole Young is unaware of his hidden lineage or why he is being hunted down by Sub-Zero of the Lin-Kuei clan of assassins. Concerned for the safety of his family, he seeks out a clique of fighters that were chosen to defend Earthrealm in a high-stakes battle against the forces of Outworld.
Australian director Simon McQuoid makes his directorial debut with this all-new adaptation of Mortal Kombat and he sure picked one hell of a property for his first film. Whether you’re a longtime acolyte of the cult video game and its roster of outlandishly cool characters, or this is your first time venturing into the deadly battle between Earthrealm and Outworld, you’re served one hell of a fun film thanks to McQuoid’s direction. McQuoid understands his subject matter intimately and produces a compelling film of high-energy martial-arts action which is sure to amp up audiences and provides one very fun time at the movies.
Standing front and centre in this new adaptation of Mortal Kombat is revered actor and martial artist Joe Taslim as the infamous Bi-Han/Sub-Zero, and Taslim switches it up thanks to a full-on villainous performance. As Sub-Zero, Taslim is the ultimate assassin, a killer with no conscience and who desires nothing except to see the end of the Shirai Ryu clan and the triumph of the Lin Kuei clan. Taslim attacks the role with an intensity that will make you sit up and take notice. Light on his feet and casting a very big presence across Mortal Kombat, Taslim’s Sub-Zero is a villain you can cheer for and he definitely keeps the action on screen interesting thanks to powerfully honed combat skills that are delivered with ruthless speed and efficiency.
Facing off against Taslim’s Sub-Zero, is noted Japanese performer Hiroyuki Sanada who takes on the role of Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion and who is the mortal enemy of Sub-Zero. Sanada has a long list of very impressive credits both in terms of his native Japanese cinema, and large scale Hollywood productions, and he brings an incredible gravitas and emotion to the character of Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion. He’s also fairly proficient with a katana and when he finally gets to go mano-o-mano with Sub-Zero prepare to sit up in your seat because you’ll be wide-eyed with excitement thanks to this deadly showdown.
Stepping into the ring for Mortal Kombat is rising star Lewis Tan as Cole Young, the chief protagonist of Mortal Kombat and this character clearly signifies Tan’s turn as an action star to take serious notice of. As the everyman of the picture Cole is a character who has run his whole life from destiny and responsibility, but who fearing for his families safety has to accept his inner power and must then rise to the occasion. Like both Taslim and Sanada, Tan gets the chance to show off his serious talent for the martial arts here, and as Cole builds and builds in his strength as a character, the action gets bigger and bigger and leads to one giant fight with one colossal foe!
Backing up Tan in a key supporting role is Jessica McNamee as noted fan favourite Mortal Kombat character Sonya Blade, and this girl definitely can fight. As a former Special Forces soldier, Blade is a seriously capable opponent and McNamee gets the chance to put the hurt on the bad guys in the best way possible. McNamee is one of the film’s strongest additions and gives credence to the film’s lore and mythos and owns the screen as this tough girl who knows how to throw a punch, and knows how to throw them hard. McNamee’s Sonya definitely has some moves in the ring and her performance reminds me of a young Hilary Swank, and I believe we’re going to see a lot more of her down the road.
But when it comes to scene stealers in Mortal Kombat the winner is unanimously Josh Lawson as Australian criminal ratbag Kano and he owns every single scene he’s in. Whether it’s his slimy attempts to antagonise his fellow champions, or his quippy one-liners, Lawson’s performance as Kano is just flat out AMAZING and you’ll be in hysterics the whole way through thanks to his presence. Lawson gives Mortal Kombat a great sense of levity that stops the film from being overly serious, and his pithy dialogue cuts just as sharp as his bowie knife and it’s a lot of fun to watch him work.
Finally wrapping everything together is Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden, Thunder God and protector of Earthrealm and who also happens to be my favourite Mortal Kombat character of all time. Asano is an utterly excellent choice as Raiden and gives this regal god a strong sense of power and authority and it’s an absolute joy to watch him work on screen. Shaping the events of Mortal Kombat from behind-the-scenes, Asano portrays Raiden as a chess grandmaster who is always five moves ahead, and when he brings the thunder the lightening strikes and there can be no mistake as to who the big boss is here.
From heart-ripping chest action to an assortment of brutally gory fatalities, Mortal Kombat lives up to the legacy of its name and delivers plenty of gnarly on-screen martial arts action. McQuoid and his team hold nothing back in terms of the extreme nature of the combat of Mortal Kombat and this makes the film that much more immersive and intense as a cinematic experience. As an audience member, I guarantee that you’ll have a blast from beginning to end with this one, and if you’re looking for action that delivers one hell of a spine-shattering punch then you’ll certainly find it here.
Mortal Kombat makes for a very fun cinematic cocktail thanks to an assortment of crazy characters, in-your-face action and world-ending battles and is a very special treat that we’ve long been waiting for. It’s unapologetically crazy in the best way possible and audiences will soak up its extreme cool from beginning to end. And the fatalities are guaranteed!
Image: Warner Brothers Pictures