It is hard to believe that the first live-action Mortal Kombat movie hit theaters 21 years ago. I have fond memories of the excitement that my older brother, my friends, and myself felt as the movie’s release approached; we had spent many hours dueling each other with the crazy Mortal Kombat characters, and the movie would give us the opportunity to watch flesh-and-blood actors bring those characters to life. I can’t recall exactly how long it has been since I last viewed the 1995 movie, but I recently decided to sit down and give it another viewing as an adult. So how did the Mortal Kombat film hold up to my nostalgia after all these years? It fared pretty well.
Probably what stood out most to me during my viewing was how good the casting was for this movie. Sure, there weren’t many “big-name stars” featured (Christopher Lambert and Linden Ashby were arguably the biggest names on the cast at the time), but everyone that was cast played their parts extremely close to the video game source material; Lambert’s Raiden is perhaps the furthest from the source material, but I still found his interpretation intriguing, and it’s a shame that Raiden didn’t get a fight scene of his own in the movie. That being said, I’m not suggesting that there were any Oscar-worthy performances in Mortal Kombat. The acting is spotty at best, though some of that could be attributed to poorly written dialogue.
The movie has some cool choreography, and there is plenty of fan-service sprinkled throughout for fans of the games; I didn’t take notes, but I remember at least 3 instances where the phrase, “Flawless Victory,” is exclaimed into the camera. The story doesn’t make too much sense, but it is the same story from the original Mortal Kombat games, so the only fault you could give there is that the writers followed the source material too closely.
After completing my re-watch, I can honestly see why Mortal Kombat is still considered one of, if not the best, video game movies made to this day. As we all know, the bar isn’t a high one to clear in this category, and the Mortal Kombat movie provided faithful renditions of characters and plot, with some cool fight scenes to boot. At its core, it’s a cheesy martial arts flick; but if you go in with that expectation and nothing more, you will still have a good time with Mortal Kombat. As for the movie’s sequel: you’re on your own there (I prefer to go on believing it doesn’t exist).