Once upon a time, I recapped an insane Christian book that claimed the devil created football as a tool to destroy humanity. The article’s popularity made me turn my recaps into a weekly series named “So You Don’t Have To“, where I find batshit crazy pieces of media (books, movies, etc) and recap them for your pleasure.
Today, I’ll be recapping the 2021 “Mortal Kombat” reboot.
To be clear, “Mortal Kombat” isn’t awful. If you’re only interested in seeing your favourite characters from the game perform their special moves in fun choreographed fight scenes with cool CGI, then go for it. However, in terms of acting, writing, characterization, and plot development “Mortal Kombat” doesn’t hold up. Simply put, it suffers from the video game movie curse.
The movie starts in 17th-century Japan. Hanzo Hasashi is doing chores with his family, and you can tell that they’re really happy and in love because Hanzo hugs his wife and tells her this:
I’m thoroughly disgusted by how adorable all this is. But then I remember that when everything is super chill and rosy like this in a movie, it means things are about to go to shit. I’m proven right when Hanzo steps away to fetch water and a man with ice powers named Bi-Han shows up and murders Hanzo’s wife and son.
Hanzo returns to find his wife and son frozen and impaled with a shard of ice.
Enraged, Hanzo kills all Bi-Han’s men in what I think is the coolest fight scene in the movie. When the time comes to face Bi-Han, they have a small conversation that gets lost in translation because Bi-Han only speaks Chinese and Hanzo only speaks Japanese.
Because good can’t triumph over evil in the first 15 minutes of the movie, Hanzo loses the fight and is stabbed to death (with his own knife) by Bi-Han. Before he dies, however, Hanzo is like:
Hanzo does in fact go to hell. His body turns into fire and gets sucked into the underworld.
We never get a reason why.
As soon as Bi-han leaves, Raiden, God of Thunder and protector of the Earthrealm, shows up.
Turns out that Hanzo’s wife hid their newborn daughter from Bi-Han and Raiden has come to take her. This makes me angry because Raiden showing up right then means that he watched the carnage happen and did nothing to stop it.
The following text shows onscreen.
Centuries pass and Shang Tsung, the soul-sucking sorcerer in a bitchin’ bone straight wig, summons Bi-Han to talk about their strategy to win the upcoming tournament. Bi-Han (who shows up in a mask and calls himself “Sub Zero” now) says their victory is certain because he killed Hanzo Hasashi’s entire family. Shang Tsung orders Bi-Han to go kill all the Earthrealm champions so the tournament never happens.
We’re introduced to a guy named Cole Young, a former professional MMA fighter who now sucks at fighting and basically loses cage fights for a living.
An original character created as a stand-in for the audience, he has nothing going on and is boring as hell so the writers gave him a wife and teenage daughter.
Cole and his family are having dinner outside a cafe one evening when Sub Zero shows up and tries to murder them with a hailstorm. They’re saved by a man named Jax, who explains that a mark Cole has…
The Mortal Kombot logo. Lmao
…is the mark of Earthrealm’s champions. Jax has one too and decides to stay back and fight Sub Zero. He instructs Cole to go find a woman named Sonya Blade to get more information. If you’re wondering what happens when a guy with a gun tries to fight an ice demon, here’s your answer:
Cole drops his family off at a motel and goes to find Sonya. Sonya vomits exposition all over Cole. Here’s the gist:
- Mortal Kombat is a tournament between the realms (Earthrealm and Outworld)
- The Outworld has won nine times and if they win a tenth time, they’ll take over the Earthrealm.
- The mark is an invitation to fight in the tournament.
- Some people are born with the mark (like Cole) while others acquire it (like Jax, who killed someone who had it and had it transferred to him).
We’re introduced to the assassin Kano, a potty-mouthed discount Hugh Jackman Wolverine. Sonya is holding Kano hostage because he has the mark (he got it from killing someone who had it). They’re attacked by a humanoid reptile named Reptile and Kano rips its heart out, Klaus Mickaelson style. Sonya suggests they all go looking for Raiden’s temple and offers Kano money to help them find it.
During their journey through the desert on foot, it’s revealed that Sonya doesn’t even have the mark and Kano mercilessly clowns her for it. They run into Liu Kang wandering around the desert. I say “wandering” because he wasn’t even out looking for them. He was just out doing random desert shit. Anyway, he takes them to Raiden’s castle
Fun Fact: Ludi Lin, the actor who played Liu Kang, was also the Black Ranger in 2017’s “Power Rangers.” He needs to fire his agent.
Also, Jax is at the temple. Turns out he didn’t die after Sub Zero ripped his arms off. Liu Kang found him, brought him to the temple, and gave him useless robot chicken arms.
Kinda makes you wonder how they pulled this off, seeing as Raiden’s temple barely had technology anywhere.
Shang Tsung storms Raiden’s castle with his army of evil video game characters but Raiden puts up a wall of lightning (?) to protect his people while they train and find their arcana, a superpower every Mortal Kombat champion has to find within. Kano is the first to find his while screaming Asian slurs at Liu Kang’s cousin, Kung Lao, during dinner.
After some more training, Raiden sends Cole home because he still hasn’t found his arcana, but not before telling him about his lineage. Turns out that Cole is a descendant of Hanzo Hashasi and that’s why he has the mark. Cole returns to his family, forgetting that the reason he left them in the first place is that his presence was putting them in danger. Shang Tsung sends the four-armed, half human/half dragon, Goro, to kill Cole. Goro almost succeeds but Cole conveniently finds his arcana right then and uses it to kill Goro by stabbing him in the eye.
His arcana is basically Plot Armour.
While all this is happening, Kabal, one of Shang Tsung’s men, tries to get Kano to double cross the good guys. It doesn’t take much.
So he destroys the amulet keeping Raiden’s wall of lightning up and brings the bad guys into the temple.
It’s funny sha that Kano’s motivations here are swayed by money. Because he already knows that the Outworld has turned every realm they’ve invaded into a wasteland. What would money do for him in a post-apocalyptic earth??
A fight ensues and the good guys get their asses severely kicked. Some cool stuff happens sha, like when some evil flying chick named Nitara tries to attack Kung Lao so he does this:
And when Jax finally finds his arcana:
Which begs the question: Would Jax never have found his arcana if he didn’t have his hands ripped off?
Kung Lao is killed when he has his soul sucked out by Shang Tsung (LMAO) and Raiden teleports all the good guys to a place called The Void, a place he says the bad guys can’t follow them to. I pause the movie here to scream because WHY DIDN’T HE JUST BRING THEM HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!
When Jax asks Raiden why he didn’t help save Kung Lao, Raiden says it’s because Gods aren’t allowed to interfere with tournament. This is stupid because Shang Tsung is a God who has been interfering all over the place. Hell, Raiden himself interfered when he stopped Shang Tsung from killing them in the temple earlier. Cole suggests that they attack the bad guys one by one and they do.
Jax kills Reiko by bashing his head in:
Sonya kills Kano by stabbing him in the eye:
Transferring his mark to her.
Liu Kang kills Kabal by turning into a giant fire dragon and eating him:
And Sonya returns to help Cole kill Mileena.
Sub Zero kidnaps Cole’s family and Cole has to go fight for them. Cole is losing when Hanzo Hasashi FINALLY returns from hell to help. Also, he’s Scorpion now for some reason and clearly took English classes in hell because he says this line in English:
Recalling the dialogue from the beginning of the movie, Hanzo says this in Japanese:
And Sub Zero is like:
After fighting together to defeat Sub Zero, Hanzo says to Cole in Japanese:
Then he disappears. Cole is like:
Shang Tsung shows up, says he’ll be back with a bigger army next time, and disappears. Raiden tells the good guys that it’s now their job to gather the rest of the Earthrealm’s champions. The movie ends with Cole saying he’s going to Hollywood to look for one of Earthrealm’s champions. The camera pans to this movie poster:
Three guesses who Cole is going to look for.
I have so many questions:
- Why did Hanzo Hasashi waste so much time before returning to Earth to help?
- How did he learn English?
- Why did Sonya throw her life away to do all this? She wouldn’t even have been able to compete in the tournament if it happened because she didn’t have the mark.
- Would Jax have never found his arcana if he didn’t have his arms ripped off?
- If the champions didn’t set out to find Raiden’s temple by themselves, would’ve he ever have gone looking for them? I mean, he all-seeing so he he definitely knew that they were being hunted and killed.
- Why didn’t Raiden just bring them to The Void in the first place?
- Why didn’t the writers just have Cole become Scorpion instead of bringing Hanzo back?
- Why does Ludi Lin’s agent hate him?
- When will the video game movie curse be broken?
Check back every Friday for more So You Don’t Have To insanity.
Click here to read other entries in the So You Don’t Have To series.
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