Mortal Kombat Paul Anderson

Mortal Kombat Paul Anderson
Age and perspective can be quite unkind. I remember the excitement of seeing Mortal Kombat in theatres at the age of 13 as only the videogame turned film franchise's exact demographic can. Even then, it was obviously a very silly picture, but easier to enjoy for what it was: a literal adaptation of a two-dimensional fighting game. This was Paul "not yet W.S." Anderson's (Resident Evil, Event Horizon) feature debut and it's his semi-infectious glee for the work that makes his consistently poor filmmaking oddly tolerable. The story is basically an extension of the cut scenes from the videogames, spelled out with all the subtlety of title cards. Liu Kang (Robin Shou, Beverly Hills Ninja) is seeking vengeance for the death of his brother at the hands of the evil wizard Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, The Last Emperor), but refuses to accept a destiny that basically assures him of the chance. Johnny Cage wants to prove he's not just a Hollywood fake and Sonya Blade is on her own revenge mission, minus the vague destiny bullshit that could lead her somewhere other than the inevitable damsel in distress role. Ostensibly, one of these three fighters will determine the outcome of the tournament, but it couldn't be more obvious how each of their paths will play out. Christopher Lambert is hilariously miscast as the thunder god Rayden, showing more emotion while spouting cheesy one-liners than when shouting through a barely opened mouth. There's almost as much to laugh at as there is to cringe over, if you're inclined to seek the positive. The computer-generated effects have aged especially poorly, brought to glaring light by this high definition transfer. You can clearly see the line on Scorpion's palm where the animation starts ― there's not even a slight attempt to blend it. The Goro suit looks okay in certain lighting still, though ridiculously inexpressive. Surprisingly, much of the cinematography is quite sweeping and the action, while poorly choreographed (barely a combo is thrown or a block made until the final showdown), is cleanly shot. Characters are introduced by their full name and basic job description in place of actual dialogue, and the one time there isn't someone around to make an introduction a disembodied voice just shouts "Reptile." That's the problem with translating a videogame to the screen this literally: early '90s game logic doesn't make a lick of sense in film form and that's all Mortal Kombat is. Kudos for not even trying to hide it though. For special features, the highlights are a preview of the newest instalment in the game series and a downloadable costume for said game, certainly not the extremely shitty cartoon retelling the beginning of this ludicrous excuse for a story. Even if you're mining your childhood for laughs, give Mortal Kombat a pass. (Warner)