Mortal Kombat (1995)
Mortal Kombat is a 1995 American fantasy action film written by Kevin Droney, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, produced by Lawrence Kasanoff, and starring Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Bridgette Wilson, and Christopher Lambert. It is a loose adaptation of the early entries in the most controversial and popular fighting game Mortal Kombat.
The plot of the film follows the warrior monk Liu Kang, the actor Johnny Cage, and the soldier Sonya Blade, all three guided by the god Raiden, on their journey to combat the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung and his forces in a tournament to save Earth. The film's primary source material was 1992's original game of the same title, but it was also inspired by and incorporates elements of 1993's follow-up game Mortal Kombat II.
Mortal Kombat is a fighting tournament between the representatives of the realms of Earth and Outworld conceived by the Elder Gods amid looming invasion of the Earth by Outworld. If the realm of Outworld wins Mortal Kombat ten consecutive times, its Emperor Shao Kahn will be able to invade and conquer the Earth realm.
Shaolin monk Liu Kang and his comrades, movie star Johnny Cage and military officer Sonya Blade were handpicked by Raiden, the god of thunder and defender of the Earth realm, to overcome their powerful adversaries in order to prevent Outworld from winning their tenth straight Mortal Kombat tournament. Each of the three has his or her own reason for competing: Liu seeks revenge against the tournament host Shang Tsung for killing his brother Chan; Sonya seeks revenge on an Australian crime lord Kano for murdering a fellow officer; and Cage, having been branded as a fake by the media, seeks to prove otherwise.
At Shang Tsung's island, Liu is attracted to Princess Kitana, Shao Kahn's adopted daughter. Aware that Kitana is a dangerous adversary because she is the rightful heir to Outworld and that she will attempt to ally herself with the Earth warriors, Tsung orders the creature Reptile to spy on her. Liu defeats his first opponent and Sonya gets her revenge on Kano by snapping his neck. Cage encounters and barely beats Scorpion. Liu engages in a brief duel with Kitana, who secretly offers him cryptic advice for his next battle. Liu's next opponent is Sub-Zero, whose defense seems untouched because of his freezing abilities, until Liu recalls Kitana's advice and uses it to kill Sub-Zero.
Prince Goro enters the tournament and mercilessly crushes every opponent he faces. One of Cage's peers, Art Lean, is defeated by Goro as well and has his soul taken by Shang Tsung. Sonya worries that they may not win against Goro, but Raiden disagrees. He reveals their own fears and egos are preventing them from winning the tournament.
Despite Sonya's warning, Cage comes to Tsung to request a fight with Goro. The sorcerer accepts on the condition that he be allowed to challenge any opponent of his choosing, anytime and anywhere he chooses. Raiden tries to intervene, but the conditions are agreed upon before he can do so. After Shang Tsung leaves, Raiden confronts Cage for what he has done in challenging Goro, but is impressed when Cage shows his awareness of the gravity of the tournament. Cage faces Goro and uses guile and the element of surprise to defeat the defending champion. Now desperate, Tsung takes Sonya hostage and takes her to Outworld, intending to fight her as his opponent. Knowing that his powers are ineffective there and that Sonya cannot defeat Tsung by herself, Raiden sends Liu and Cage into Outworld in order to rescue Sonya and challenge Tsung. In Outworld, Liu is attacked by Reptile(under orders from Shang Tsung to prevent him and Cage from rescuing Sonya), but eventually gains the upper hand and defeats him. Afterward, Kitana meets up with Cage and Liu. She reveals to the pair the origins of both herself and Outworld. Kitana allies with them and helps them to infiltrate Tsung's castle, while advising Liu Kang about three challenges in the castle: To face his enemy, himself and his worst fear.
Inside the castle tower, Shang Tsung challenges Sonya to fight him, claiming that her refusal to accept will result in the Earth realm forfeiting Mortal Kombat (this is, in fact, a lie on Shang's part). All seems lost for Earth realm until Kitana, Liu, and Cage appear. Kitana berates Tsung for his treachery to the Emperor as Sonya is set free, claiming that his arrogance and greed will cost him the tournament if he doesn't honor his deal. Tsung challenges Cage, but is counter-challenged by Liu. During the lengthy battle, Liu faces not only Tsung, but the souls that Tsung had forcibly taken in past tournaments. In a last-ditch attempt to take advantage, Tsung morphs into Chan. Seeing through the charade, Liu renews his determination and ultimately fires an energy bolt at the sorcerer, knocking him down and impaling him on a row of spikes. Tsung's death releases all of the captive souls, including Chan's. Before ascending to the afterlife, Chan tells Liu that he will remain with him in spirit until they are once again reunited, after Liu dies.
The warriors return to Earth realm, where a victory celebration is taking place at the Shaolin temple. The jubilation abruptly stops, however, when Shao Kahn's giant figure suddenly appears in the skies. When the Emperor declares that he has come for everyone's souls, Raiden declares "I don't think so!", and the warriors take up fighting stances.
Why It Rocks
- Excellent and awesome fighting and action segments as it followed well to the game's premise.
- Faithfully follows the source material as it gave a new element and setting to the game itself.
- Beautiful movie setting used for a fantasy and action movie.
- Some funny moments like Liu throwing Johnny Cage's luggage at the docks.
- The fighting of Cage against Scorpion and Liu against Sub-Zero is the greatest part of the movie because Scorpion and Sub-Zero were the best characters in the game.
- The puppetry of Goro is so great that he looks like he does in the game.
- Decent acting from a cast that look and act identical to their game counterparts, especially Robin Shou as Liu Kang.
- Awesome soundtrack, including the Mortal Kombat theme song.
- "Your soul is mine!"
- The computer generated-imagery with the lizard version of Reptile is so poor (expect for Scorpion's spear).
- Sonya didn't get actually badass scenes. Kano was the only major enemy she defeated and the victory wasn't too impressive.
- Not enough violence due to the fact that film was rated PG-13.
While Mortal Kombat was well-received by the fans of the videogame, it received mixed reviews from critics who praised the martial art sequences, atmosphere, exotic locations and production values whereas the performances, the script and the PG-13 rating were criticized. It earned a score of 48% on Rotten Tomatoes sampled from 40 reviews, with an average score of 4.79/10. The site's consensus reads: "Despite an effective otherworldly atmosphere and appropriately cheesy visuals, Mortal Kombat suffers from its poorly constructed plot, laughable dialogue, and subpar acting.". Metacritic gave the film a rating of 58/100, based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews" while the audience score based on 335 rating rests on a universal acclaim of 8.3. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.