‘Mortal Kombat’ works on a pure action-packed level

Rick's Reviews

Mechad Brooks stars in the new action film “Mortal Kombat.” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

(KGET) — “Mortal Kombat” looks to be the champion of this week’s entertainment options.

“Mortal Kombat” Grade 3 stars: Anyone who heads to a local theater or opts to watch this new action film via the streaming service of HBO Max should not be expecting complex characters, deep emotional elements or even a slightly complicated plot. It’s not that kind of entertainment option.

The entire movie can be described with the kind of one-line phrasing generally seen on the packaging for a videogame – “Fights that have been going on for centuries between warring worlds continue.” It doesn’t get any less complicated than that.

MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) suddenly must deal with Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), an otherworldly Cryomancer, sent to hunt him down. His only hope to save himself and his family is a group of people who have the same weird dragon marking that he has.

Young finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, where he finds out he is one of Earth’s greatest champions and must fight against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe. They battle and battle and battle some more.

There’s obviously an appetite for the kind of action that dominates the “Mortal Kombat” world. There have been 11 incarnations of the video game and this is the latest big-screen adaptation. The less said about the 1995 version the better.

Simon McQuoid – who makes his feature directorial debut with “Mortal Kombat” – has embraced the elements that have made the game so popular. His direction isn’t fancy but does keep the focus clear – it is all about the bloody hits.

Screenwriters Greg Russo and Dave Callaham (“Wonder Woman 1984”) have helped him with a script where when in doubt, go for a big action scene rather than meaningful dialogue. They make a few attempts at giving the tale some heart but that gets beaten out of it quickly.

This latest film based on a videogame works because the special effects and choreography of the fight sequences are sharp and crisp. If you were expecting anything more, then you must be suffering from some weird form of cinematic amnesia caused by the pandemic.

The prime focus of “Mortal Kombat” is mortal combat. Nothing more. Nothing less.

“Mortal Kombat” will be available on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release. Please note the film is rated R for language and violence.

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