For fans of both violent action films and gory fighting games, April of 2021 is bringing one of the most anticipated movies to viewers around the globe. On April 16 (or April 8 in some regions), the long-awaited Mortal Kombat movie will be hitting movie theaters and HBO Max. Although the Mortal Kombat franchise has been a long-standing icon in the gaming industry, starting with its controversial arcade run in the early-90s, the previous attempts at a film adaptation have fallen short. Both Mortal Kombat (1995) and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) were panned by critics for their cheesy special effects, abysmal dialogue, and general misrepresentation of the game’s narrative. Luckily, Mortal Kombat (2021) is showing big promise, with a great cast, a talented crew, and plenty of bloody moments to shock and awe. As we eagerly anticipate the new Mortal Kombat movie’s release, let’s take a look at the reasons why this modern adaptation might be the next best video game movie.
The Reasons That Mortal Kombat (2021) Will Be Good
The Crew is Paying Attention to the Source Material
One of the most prevalent problems with film adaptations of video games is the way screenwriters often treat the original story, characters, and lore. Hollywood studios have a habit of over-simplifying and dumbing down the source material, whether to appease a wider audience or cash-in on an existing brand. Whether it’s the Tomb Raider films from the early-2000s, the awkwardly-casted Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), or the mediocre Max Payne (2008) movie, some of the best video game stories have been reduced to mindless and hollow plots. Even some of the most successful video game-to-movie adaptations suffer from this narrative decay. Look no further than the Resident Evil movies, which spawned five sequels while simultaneously ignoring and cherry-picking elements from the original games.
Luckily, Mortal Kombat (2021) is being crafted by some creators who have a lot of love for the fighting game franchise. The movie is being helmed by newcomer director Simon McQuoid, who, judging by the trailer, has captured the essence of both the story and style of the source material. McQuoid’s direction has a solid foundation in the original screenplay, written by vocal video gamer Greg Russo. On social media, Russo has claimed his love for Mortal Kombat more than once, even sharing an old notepad with classic fatality combinations for the old-school games. Along with producer Todd Garner, these crew members have gone to great lengths to emphasize their love for the classic Mortal Kombat games, detailing the priority placed on preserving the core of the MK experience.
The Cast is Absolutely Perfect
Proper casting continues to be an issue in film adaptations, whether they’re based on video games, books, or any other popular media. Time and time again, Hollywood chooses popular, big-budget stars for important roles, even when they don’t fit the original character design. Mortal Kombat (2021) is bucking that trend, offering a cast list packed with highly-talented actors and a handful of fresh faces to boot. While you might not recognize them through the decorative and colorful costuming, Mortal Kombat (2021) features a notable number of fantastic actors and actresses, with plenty of past experience in martial arts. Hiroyuki Sanada (Musashi in Westworld: Season 2, Akihiko in Avengers: Endgame) will be taking up the mantle as Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion, lending his immense martial arts prowess to the character. Likewise, Joe Taslim (Li Yong in Cinemax’s Warrior, Jaka in The Raid: Redemption) will be bringing some fierce physicality to the role of Bi-Han/Sub-Zero.
Fans can expect to see all of their favorite characters in action, represented by actors and actresses who fit the original game character’s appearance. While this might sound simple, it’s a nice assurance that Mortal Kombat (2021) won’t fall victim to ridiculous casting in an attempt to appease the average movie-goer. Ludi Kin (Zack in the Power Rangers film reboot) provides youthful energy to the character of Liu Kang, while stuntman Max Huang (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Hitman: Agent 47) fills one of his biggest roles yet as Kung Lao. There are also some major acting chops in the antagonist department, with Chin Han (Lau in The Dark Knight and Togusa in Ghost in the Shell) giving an intimidating performance as the sorcerer Shang Tsung. Generally speaking, we’re enormously pleased with the casting, as it taps some of the most underrated and impressive talent in the industry today.
It’s Actually Rated R
While the Mortal Kombat games have earned a reputation for being excessively gory and aimed at an adult audience, the movie adaptations in the 1990s were only rated PG-13. This was a big disappointment to almost every fan, who expected tons of blood, gruesome fatalities, and outrageous scenes of explosive death. Fortunately, Mortal Kombat (2021) has been created with a strong R-rating in mind, so after decades of waiting, fans might finally see a truly blood-soaked adaptation. For evidence of Mortal Kombat (2021)’s burst of blood and guts, look no further than the audience-restricted red-band trailer that was released online a few weeks ago.
The trailer kicks off with Jax (Mehcad Brooks) encountering the ice-conjuring Sub-Zero during a tactical mission, and after failing to shoot him at point-blank range with a shotgun, loses both his arms in a gruesome scene of dismemberment. Later in the trailer, Sub-Zero picks a fight with Scorpion, using his own frozen blood as a stabbing tool. The trailer also features a few fatalities – incredibly macabre finishing moves that have become a staple in the game franchise. Not only does Mortal Kombat (2021) look like it’s pushing the envelope in terms of martial arts violence, but many of the bloodiest moments seem directly pulled from the game. There’s no doubt that this new Mortal Kombat movie will toe the line between horror and action, most likely causing some audience members to watch through partially-covered eyes.
Where to Watch Mortal Kombat (2021)
Mortal Kombat (2021) will be streaming exclusively on HBO Max starting on April 16 for viewers in locales where the service is supported. The film will also be releasing in traditional cinemas, with IMAX viewings at select venues. If you don’t have HBO Max and don’t want to risk a trip to the movie theater, Mortal Kombat (2021) should be released on Blu-ray and DVD within six months. Previous films released by Warner Bros have seen expedient home-video releases, so you might not have to wait too long to own a copy for your collection. Either way, we can’t wait to see the bloody madness that awaits us when the new Mortal Kombat movie releases in April!