(director: Simon McQuoid; screenwriters: Dave Callaham/Greg Russo/ story: Oren Uziel, Greg Russo, based on the video game created by Ed Boon and John Tobias; cinematographer: Germain McMicking; editors: Dan Lebental, Scott Gray; music: Benjamin Wallfisch; cast: Lewis Tan (Cole Young), Jessica McNamee (Sonya Blade), Josh Lawson (Kano), Tadanobu Asano (Lord Raidan), Mehcad Brooks (Jax), Ludi Lin (Liu Kang), Chin Han (Shang Tsung), Joe Taslim (Bi-Han/Sub Zero), Hiroyuki Sanada (Hanzo Hasashi), Laura Brent (Allison), Matilda Kimber (Emily), Max Huang (Kung Lao), Sisi Stringer (Mileena), Mel Jarnson (Nitara), Nathan Jones (Reiko), Daniel Nelson (Kabal), Ian Streetz (Ramiriz), Yukiko Shinohara (Harumi Hasashi); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producers: James Wan, Todd Garner, Simon McQuoid, E. Bennett Walsh; New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.; 2021-in English, Japanese, Chinese)

It has little of critical value to offer accept vulgar escapist entertainment over its silly, dark, juvenile fantasy story.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

First-time feature film director Simon McQuoid, a director of commercials from Australia, helms this violent reboot from Warner Bros.. Writers Greg Russo and Dave Callaham turn out a clunky screenplay. The story by Oren Uziel & Greg Russo is based on the video game created by Ed Boon and John Tobias.

The film is so dumb it doesn’t even know how to spell combat. Even though filled with more blood and gore than the original jokey 1995  film, that was inspired by a video game, it’s still inferior to that mediocre film. It’s unapologetic about all the gross-out martial arts carnage (like a beating heart ripped out of its vic’s chest). It has little of critical value to offer accept vulgar escapist entertainment over its silly, dark, juvenile fantasy story. The studio rolls it out without recognizable stars, hoping the graphic chilling scenes will appeal to a large mainstream audience craving such a gruesome action pic.

Unaware of his prominent heritage from the descendants of Hanzo Hasash (Hiroyuki Sanada), murdered centuries ago by the otherworldly assassin Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), but born with his dragon-mark, the losing MMA fighter, the washed-up Cole Young (Lewis Tan), is rescued by his dragon-mark protector, Jax (Mehcad Brooks), the virtuous warrior champion fighter of the Special Forces, from being attacked by Sub-Zero, the same deadly assassin. He has been ordered to kill Cole by the evil emperor Shang Tsung (Chin Han).

Cole learns he’s to train at the sanctuary temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), an Elder God worshiped by those in the Earthrealm who bear the dragon-mark needed to be part of a team of great fighters that will represent the Earthrealm in an interstellar competition known as Mortal Kombat. The fierce ex-military fighter Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) is also wanted for the team, and after searched out by Cole, joins the team with the foul-mouthed scummy mercenary Aussie named Kano (Josh Lawson). Her problem is that she doesn’t have the dragon-mark and might be bounced from the team. But the team needs the best fighters, as defeat in the games means the destruction of the planet by the nefarious opposition team called the Outworld, that’s ruled by the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung.

Things are predictable and awkward, as the humble Cole turns out to be the Chosen One, who is destined to save the Earth. I don’t think I’m spoiling things by telling you the outcome everyone expects is victory for the good guys. If you didn’t know that you’re probably not that tuned into how such populist films work (films where no adult should be permitted into a theater without a child).

I found this kind of stuff to be schlock and not to my taste. It disappoints throughout. The excessive violence sets the tone for the pic during an early fight scene in 17th century Japan, where the high body count and blood sp[atters across the screen, letting us know this version will make the original look tame in comparison.

When violence is used solely for thrills and enjoyment, you can safely call it as it is–an exploitation B-film. But the photography is splendid and the fight scenes are well-choreographed, which should be enough to please the less demanding viewers to perhaps recommend such a bad film.

      Lin and Max Huang in 2021's 'Mortal Kombat.'