Mortal Kombat Review: Bloody, Cheesy, Fun


Still image of the fire wielding Scorpion in Mortal Kombat

Gavin Clingham, Staff Writer

When I had first heard they were making a Mortal Kombat reboot, I was not that interested. I knew nothing about it except for the infamous line in the original sequel: “too bad YOU, will die.” My expectations based around one of the most horribly delivered lines in history was not going to get me to see it. Then it was announced that they’d be making it rated R, which interested me because I remember the games being violent beyond belief. I saw the trailer and I was signed up immediately. I saw amazingly choreographed fights combined with some brilliant visuals that made me realize that I had to see this movie. I finally dragged my dad to get to the theater as fast as I possibly could.


Mortal Kombat (2021) takes place in the present day following a young MMA fighter named Cole Young (Lewis Tan). He is washed up and can hardly win a fight, but he still has the support of his family. One day he’s approached by a military veteran named Jax (Mehcad Brooks) who asks him about a dragon birthmark on his chest. After this strange encounter, Cole and his family are nearly murdered by the menacing Sub-Zero (played by the brilliant Joe Taslim). As Jax helps him escape, he is brought to Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) who informs him that people all over the world are chosen by a dragon marking to fight in a universal tournament called the Mortal Kombat. 

I just want to start with a few things that you should know about this movie. One is that this isn’t really a film that takes itself too seriously, so you should just show up to have a fun time in the theater. Second is that it is really gruesome, which I thought was a great aspect, but I know people will definitely think otherwise. Third is that this film might be a little rushed at some points. I just have to start off with the negatives because this film certainly has a lot of things to get me to say that I loved it. I would’ve given this a 3.5 or a 3 out of 5, but there are some moments that just force me to give it a 4 out of 5. Is it a little generous? It very well might be, but that’s how much I enjoyed it. I just have to list my general thoughts to say that this is just a fun action movie that you shouldn’t have high expectations for. Now I should get to the specific things I liked or didn’t like the film. 

First, the violent action is perfect if you’re a Mortal Kombat fan. Every fatality in the movie is brutal and bloody enough to make this a faithful adaptation of the video game. The fights are also extremely well choreographed. I was shocked that the people who just made the fights in Aquaman crafted some really solid action. I guess the only thing I wanted from the fights was for them to feel a little more imminent. Even though there were scenes that the one 8 year old in the theater shouldn’t have witnessed, it felt like every main character had a shield of plate armor. It looked like if you played Mortal Kombat with the one guy who figured out cheat codes so he would take no damage. This is merely a nitpick, but it felt like there could’ve been just slightly more intensity in the fights.

Liu Kang and Kung Lao (

Another thing I loved about this film was just that it was a lot of fun. It doesn’t have the strongest screenplay, but it was still really enjoyable. I know that if this film was released back in 2019, it would’ve been an absolute thrill to hear the audience’s reaction. There are just so many epic moments that keep me engaged in the film entirely. I can in no way give this film 3.5 stars out of 5 when you have the original 90s Mortal Kombat theme playing over an epic fight (that moment was pure gold). In fact, it is awesome to hear the theme get snuck in at several different moments in the movie. This was just a really fun movie to watch and I’d love to get a bunch of friends to watch the sequel in theaters when all of this is over. 

I guess the one thing that stopped me from enjoying the film was the jump cuts. There are so many different jump cuts in the fight scenes and any scene that was supposed to be tense. It’s just annoying to jump around to so many places and ruin the mood.. One example I see of how jump cuts compare to letting the camera run is with how Mission Impossible: Fallout compares to Taken 3. In Mission Impossible, we get a well shot long take of Tom Cruise running on top of buildings and making jumps off of them. It’s immersive, entertaining, and actually keeps the scene kinetic. Meanwhile in Taken 3, it takes 14 different shots and angles to show a 10 second scene of Liam Neeson climbing a fence. Cuts in a scene are okay, but when there’s an excess, it takes so much away from the scene. The worst part is, the fights are really cool in Mortal Kombat. They’re working with the people behind Beatrix Kiddo’s 88 count massacre in Kill Bill. So that just me makes things even worse Once again, I still had fun, but I wouldn’t have to call this a near guilty pleasure if these simple things were done.

Still image of the coolest shot in the movie (

So, forgetting the negatives, I had an amazing time. I missed a massive chunk of The Oscars (which was worse because the categories were out of order), but I was still focused on the movie. Yeah, the new Mortal Kombat character (Cole Young) may not be too strong of a character, but this can be a beginning. It’s a franchise that, with some improvement, I’d be beyond down to follow. I just hope they do not do anything like Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.