Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Movie #439: Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is a movie based on the video game of the same name, and starring Linden Ashby, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Talisa Soto, Robin Shou, Christopher Lambert, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Trevor Goddard. It's pretty awful, and fantastic all at once.

The tournament of Mortal Kombat is held "once a generation," but it's not just another Enter the Dragon ripoff! The Emperor Shao Kahn (voiced by Frank Welker, briefly) has won 9 tournaments in a row, and if he wins this one, he gets to invade Earth. His sorcerer flunky Shang Tsung (Tagawa) commands a legion of evil warriors meant to stop the kombatants from Earthrealm. Specifically, spoiled martial arts movie star Johnny Cage (Ashby), bitter and isolated Special Forces...cop? Sonya Blade (Wilson-Sampras), and the Chosen One, Liu Kang (Shou), who just wants revenge because Shang Tsung killed his brother (Steven Ho).

So of course they all get to the magical island, they have some fights, Liu Kang faces and defeats Shang Tsung, and all is well (until Shao Khan appears and sets off the events of the sequel, which is fucking godawful, but I don't own it so that's fine). All of this is set to some really catchy techno music.

This movie is objectively stupid. The dialog is crap, the acting ranges from wooden (Wilson-Sampras) to hammy (Ashby) to earnest but not especially compelling (Shou) to cheerfully nomming on scenery (Tagawa, and Lambert, who shows up playing Raiden for some reason). The fight scenes are mostly jump cuts and people doing cartwheels, though the ones with Shou aren't bad, and the one between him and Reptile (Keith Cooke) is pretty wheel done. The movie's also PG-13, whereas the video games are solidly R for gore, so that's an odd choice. Sonya doesn't get fridged, but she gets damseled pretty hard, and her own fight scene is...pretty weaksauce (and she gets one, not counting the "beat up the flunkies" scene where they fight as a group).

For all that, though, there's something endearing about this movie. It's probably because I saw it in theaters in Toledo with my friends, and we decided that it's a pretty perfect representation of an RPG we'd have played (Johnny Cage is my character; I like playing the support role, getting a good scene or two, and then letting the Chosen One do his stuff). It's dumb, but it's fun and light. I wish the sequel had been as good, because it's...really not. But you can't have everything.

My Grade: D (honestly, it's a bad movie)
Rewatch Value: High (but it's fun)

Next up: Moulin Rouge