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"Mortal Kombat" (2021) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #107 Gem Mint 10.0

“Mortal Kombat“ (2021)

Director: Simon McQuoid

Writer: Ed Boon, John Tobias, Greg Russo, Dave Callaham, Oren Uziel

Starring: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Mecad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Chin Han, Max Huang, Tadanobu Asano, Ludi Lin, Elissa Cadwell, Angus Sampson, Sisi Stringer

Rated: R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, and some crude references

Runtime: 1h 50min

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Country: USA

Language: English | Japanese | Chinese

"MMA fighter Cole Young seeks out Earth's greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe."

You might like this if you like: Mortal Kombat, Video Games, Martial Arts, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Mecad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Chin Han, Max Huang, Tadanobu Asano, Ludi Lin, Elissa Cadwell, Angus Sampson, Sisi Stringer


Hiroyuki Sanada (left) & Joe Taslim (right) in "Mortal Kombat" (2021)

Was SO impressed from the FIRST frame of this film! That opening sequence might go down in history as one of my favorite cinematic scenes! I was so caught by the fact that they went with TWO incredibly talented, arguably not-that-well-known, Asian actors; Hiroyuki Sanada as 'Skorpion' and Joe Taslim as 'Sub-Zero'; two of the most iconic characters of American and worldwide pop culture.

I've been a LONGTIME fan of BOTH of these outstanding, not only actors, but martial artists. If you hire these actors you know what you're hiring them for. It has GOT to be a very conscious decision. To hire these two Asian... unknowns to most, to play TWO of the MOST ICONIC characters of human pop culture.. Was so god damn ballsy to me I loved it. Hollywood could've easily packed the two biggest selling characters with superstars. As history has proven, it would've have been that surprising if they were caucasian. In fact, even from the trailers, I thought they were still going to go that route (I'm sure if I studied the trailer hard enough I could've figured that out).

Jessica McNamee in "Mortal Kombat" (2021)

Though all in all, I was impressed that they went with mostly unknown actors. And mostly talented Asian martial artists. Couldn't have pleased me more. Was won over simply by their casting choices.

All I could keep thinking from the beginning, was that nothing could taint my love for what I was seeing. I was riding the high of the fact that this franchise finally got the level of gore, cinematography, choreography, sound effects, visual & special effects, sets and costume design, stunts, make-up and more that this franchise deserved. That's ALL I personally felt this franchise NEEDED and they gave it to me in all it's beautiful glory.

Josh Lawson in "Mortal Kombat" (2021)

Just the fact that they hired Joe Taslim, one of the most badass Indonesian Martial-Artists, who I fell in love with from "The Raid" (2011) film and "The Night Comes For Us" (2018), was such a great move on the casting / studio. So happy to see him in something this big. He deserves it.

I still loved the first cinematic interpretation of Sonya Blade. This one was far better than the second and was still insanely badass, but in terms of character and story, Bridgette Wilson's version is still my favorite. Jessica McNamee did do a fantastic job in this! I just wish her character got more time. If the movie was more her film. McNamee didn't do anything wrong, just wanted more!

Tadanobu Asano in "Mortal Kombat" (2021)

Ludi Lin and Max Huang were so great in this! Playing two of my favorite characters; 'Liu Kang' and 'Kung Lao'! Josh Lawson was pretty freakin' fun as 'Kano'!

I appreciated Lewis Tan's status as a star; I didn't know him. The whole casting was just full of TALENTED people it seemed. I loved that it wasn't about star power and they really just went with the best (at least I thought so). I still am not sure who Lewis Tan was playing? I thought he was going to be the next Skorpion?

Ludi Lin (left) & Max Huang (right) in "Mortal Kombat" (2021)

Tadanobu Asano was great at 'Raiden'! Was happy to see an Asian actor finally get to play him! Again, no offense to Christopher Lambert or James Remar, both of whom I love dearly. Love Asano in the "Thor" films! Chin Han as 'Shang Tsung' was awesome! Just loving all the Asian representation!

Mehcad Brooks, who I was a fan of from his role as 'Eggs' in HBO's "True Blood", was pretty badass as 'Jax'. "Done six tours, Motherfucker!" was by far my favorite line of the whole franchise.

Mecad Brooks (left) & Joe Taslim (right) in "Mortal Kombat" (2021)

That opening battle with Skorpion and Sub-Zero will stick in my head for years... I wasn't expecting that end sequence, but my god, the beginning AND the end of this film are absolutely incredible and my favorite moments of the film by far! Could watch both those scenes over and over again! Cinematic gold. What a fun freakin' flick! Bravo Simon McQuoid and everyone involved!

P.S. / a little extra

I recently had heard someone compare this film to "The Raid" AND "The Night Comes For Us" which I felt wasn't fair at all. This movie wasn't trying to be those films. For one, it's fantasy/sci-fi with martial arts. 'Raid' and 'Night Comes For Us' are brutal crime thrillers to the point where they're so realistically violent it dips into the horror genre. Those are a kind of genre on its own. This 'Mortal Kombat' film, I think, all it needed to do, was give us a modern take on these characters, with modern VFX, special effects, sets, costumes, cameras, lighting and be a little bit better than those two previous iterations. That's all I think it needed to do and went above and beyond in my opinion. And also, they got some of THE BEST martial artists you could've gone with for two of the best characters. I just don't think it's comparable to MOST martial arts films. It's really just the next evolution in the 'Mortal Kombat' franchise to me. It's not competing with those movies in my mind at all. If it had to compete with anything, it feels closer to being in the realm of superhero movies which is today's Westerns.

Written by Sam Gall on May 5, 2021

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

"This reboot gets what made the game fun - blood and battles - and it's just smart enough to make sure nothing gets in the way of that fun." - Matt Neal, ABC Radio

"Gives fans of MK franchise all the facilities, references, & visual points you want. Great Scorpion origin but doesn't have as much personality as the original. More a prequel" - Samuel Leggett Jr., JVS Media & Productions/Team JVS

"Whisper it quietly but I think Hollywood has finally worked out how to adapt a video game." - Andy Lea, Daily Express (UK)

"Mortal Kombat delivered on promises of larger-than-life characters and bone-breaking fight scenes. This could be a fresh start to a new franchise if given the chance." - Karen Rought, Hypable

"Go-for-broke violence has always been a core component of Mortal Kombat, and this reboot succeeds because McQuoid and his team remember that, and have the self-awareness to acknowledge it." - Roxana Hadadi, Polygon

Official Trailer:

Behind the Scenes:

Available on various VOD platforms

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