Mortal Kombat (2021) Review: A Bloody, Cheesy, Good Time

Mortal Kombat sequel

In Mortal Kombat (2021) MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole must team up with Sonya Blade, Jax, and others to protect Earthrealm from the threats from Outworld. 

Mortal Kombat (2021) Trailer

The Good: 

One thing you’ve got to love about this movie is that it gets right into the thick of things. I liked how it didn’t shy away from the fact that people have powers, and that there are these other realms with even more powerful individuals. This immediately opens up the door for the film to dive into the mythology of the Mortal Kombat (2021) property. 

Speaking of which, Mortal Kombat (2021) delivered on several new concepts that expand the world building. We learned how people are chosen to become champions of Earth and how their powers form. I thought this was a good piece of exposition that served both fans and newcomers into the film. 

As for the fans, there was so much fan service done in Mortal Kombat (2021), that you can’t help but to smile when they happen. As promised by the trailers, the gratuitous violence is prevalent from beginning to end. We even got some classic fatalities straight from the video game.

When it comes to the characters, there are some favorites to be considered. Lewis Tan (“Cole Young”) does a commendable job in this film, especially given the fact that he’s able to do many of his own stunts.  One of the better characters that will immediately capture audiences will be Kung Lao (played by Max Huang) He had some nice memorable moments in the film.

It may be fair to say that Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) is the hands down best character in this movie. To say he was cold blooded is well worth the price of a cheesy pun. This man was ruthless and I was here for every minute of it. I mean every time he showed up, the mood would just change because his presence was that terrifying. His fight scenes were among the best in Mortal Kombat (2021), and it was a pleasure to see him perform some of his moves straight from the video game.

The Bad: 

The following critics are pretty minor but still worth noting. I wasn’t the biggest fan how cheesy the film ended up being in certain moments. There were times when it would sacrifice a really tense and dramatic scene all for the sake of video game catch phrase. For example, it’s one thing to have a spectator or moderator of a fight say “Flawless Victory” compared to the actual fighter after they’ve won.

One of my least favorite characters in Mortal Kombat (2021) was probably Kano. My only critique is that they didn’t need him to be the total comic relief in the movie. There were times I wished he dialed it back a bit here or there. So when it came to his one liners for me, it was hit or miss. It’s not to say that he was terrible though. He was still pretty entertaining, and I do think that he was consistent with the arrogant character from the game.

While this may not have been the movie’s fault, I do believe that the trailers went way to far in spoiling the film. They gave away a pivotal scene in the movie that is supposed to be a bit of a surprise at the end. As a result, while you’re watching things play out, the moment the character go to a certain location, you already know what’s going to happen. That was a bit disappointing because it would’ve been a pretty cool reveal had the marketing not completely ruined it. On a separate note, even the big moment at the end, isn’t explained very well. It felt like it was just inserted because people have been waiting to see it.

Lastly, I was let down by the music. The one thing this movie had to do, if anything at all, was to just play the classic Mortal Kombat (2021) theme song. Not a remix, or a sample of the song; but the actual song. Although, the movie does play a version of the song, they played it for only like 5 seconds. Imagine being at the club, your favorite song comes on, and they cut it off right before the beat drops. That was such a wasted opportunity yet again.

The Verdict: 

Mortal Kombat (2021) is a violent and entertaining ride that fans have been waiting for. It’s got a lot of room for improvement, but it soars over the extremely low bar of the last Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation film.  Obviously, when it comes to the special effects and violence, this reboot can supersede the original Mortal Kombat (1995) movie to some degree. (The original will always hold a special place in my heart.)

Hopefully, if future sequels are green lit, they iron out a few of the issues I pointed out earlier.  I saw a lot of potential here as long as potential sequels start to take the movies a bit more seriously.  Despite whatever minor flaws Mortal Kombat (2021) has, I don’t think it’ll be of a huge concern for people anyway. You’re going in for the action, and video game nostalgia. I would recommend going into Mortal Kombat (2021) with a similar mindset that you would for Godzilla Vs Kong.  Also, don’t bother waiting for a post credit scene as there doesn’t appear to be one.

Director: Simon McQuoid
Writers: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham
Stars: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson

Mortal Kombat (2021) will be in theaters and on HBO Max on April 23, 2021. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!


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  • Acting - 6/10
  • Cinematography - 7.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • Buyability - 8/10
  • Recyclability - 8/10
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About Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette

Emmanuel is a Rotten Tomatoes Approved, Chicago film critic who founded Eman's Movie Reviews. He's contributed to other outlets such as ScreenRant andThe Wrap, and has been featured on television such as MSNBC. Be sure to join the other fans on his Facebook Fan Page for even more movie opinions and fun. Feel free to contact him with any professional inquiries: [email protected]

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