Starring: Robin Shou, Bridgette Wilson, Christopher Lambert
Written by: Kevin Droney
Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Three martial artists must fight in a tournament called Mortal Kombat in order to save Earth Realm from being invaded by Outworld.
Based on the hit video game, Mortal Kombat is a guilty pleasure of a film. Never once does it strive to be anything more than it is, which is a martial arts action flick where dudes get beat down. Despite the source material, the studio demanded the film be PG-13, and as such, the only thing missing are the gory, over the top fatalities that the series is known for. Other than that, you some ass-whoopin’ the likes of which hadn’t been seen in an American film before. Re-watching this film in honor of it’s 20th anniversary, I found that Mortal Kombat still holds up very well, despite some bad CGI (very well done at the time) and the Goro animatronic, which still was a better actor than Bridgette Wilson . . .
Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby), Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson), and Liu Kang (Robin Shou) are chosen to fight in a tournament called Mortal Kombat for the sake of keeping Outworld out of our realm. If Outworld wins 10 tournaments in a row, the gates to Earth Realm will open and they will invade, destroying Earth Realm in the process. Outworld has won nine. The three fighters are guided by the God of Thunder, Raiden (Christopher Lambert) to a remote island where they battle for the sake of mankind against Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), Kano (Trevor Goddard), Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Reptile, and the Prince of the Subterranean Realms, Goro, a giant, four armed abomination. Along the way, they get assistance from Princess Kitana (Talisa Soto), the rightful heir to the throne of Outworld.
Sound confusing? Trust me, it’s not. Mortal Kombat is a guilty pleasure of mine, a film I saw in the theater at the time of it’s release and it has held a special place in my heart. I loved the film. Over the years, I have re-watched it many times. It is a fun ride. I hadn’t watched it in years, though, and not since starting this website, almost four years ago. Re-watching it, I find that I still love this film. Is it a good film, in a critical sense? Hell no. Is it fun? You betcha.
Since the theatrical release of this film in August of 1995, we have seen the American surge of Jackie Chan, who at the time, was a cult icon in the west. He hadn’t made his US wide release Rumble in the Bronx yet, that would be released in 1996. Asian martial arts films hadn’t really entered the consciousness of the American public. That wouldn’t happen until Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which released in 2000. American martial arts films wouldn’t take off until The Matrix in 1999. Mortal Kombat led the way, opening the doors and eyes of Hollywood to the fact the general movie going public were interested in seeing this sort of film. Despite what you think of this film, it did have a strong impact on the movie going landscape we now know and love.
One of the contributions that Mortal Kombat made for me, personally, was the inclusion of a band called Fear Factory on the soundtrack. That band has been one of my top 3 bands ever since that film came out. The music playing during the Scorpion/Johnny Cage fight, after they go through the portal (?) is a song called Zero Signal by Fear Factory. On a soundtrack dominated by techno/dance music, you get a hardcore metal band. LOVE IT!!
While the actual films still holds up well, the special effects . . .well, they are a little cheesy nowadays. While the fight scenes seem a little antiquated by today’s standards, they are still very well done, with some of the first wire-work in an American film. Goro looks absolutely atrocious, but he always did. No offense to the dudes who made him and spent a million dollars on a giant, four-armed beast, it just doesn’t look that good.
Is Mortal Kombat a great film? Good lord, no. It is a hell of a fun ride, though, and still holds up well. Despite the aging of the special effects and the poor acting skills of Bridgette Wilson, this is still a helluva ride. Twenty years on, this film is still being remembered, and the majority of the remembrance is fondly. Honestly, look at the amount of articles written over the last week about this film. People love this film. I love this film. Haters be damned. And let us never forget that the great CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT is in this!! FIGHT!
*** out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- It has been rumored, but never verified, that Brandon Lee was originally cast as Johnny Cage. Other actors considered for the role? Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp.
- Cameron Diaz was originally cast as Sonya Blade. She had to drop out after breaking her wrist. Other actors considered for the role? Sharon Stone and Dina Meyer.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down the role of Johnny Cage to star in Street Fighter. The character of Johnny Cage was clearly based on Van Damme, so that would have been a casting coup. Instead, Van Damme opted for the dreadful Street Fighter.
- As good as this film is, it’s sequel is almost unwatchable. There is a reason I don’t name it, or link to the three pack of movies. If you are so interested in torturing yourself, here is the link to the three pack . . .just be warned, you may want to give yourself a Fatality after watching it . . .