FILM REVIEW | Mortal Kombat

From game to film: Ludi Lin and Max Huang star as Liu Kang and Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat, rated R18+, in cinemas now. Picture: New Line Cinema
From game to film: Ludi Lin and Max Huang star as Liu Kang and Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat, rated R18+, in cinemas now. Picture: New Line Cinema

Making Mortal Kombat fun and fresh in 2021 seems like a hard task.

The game is decades old, and the previous big screen iteration could at best be described as cheesy.

But, somehow, against the odds, Aussie director Simon McQuoid has managed to make a pretty schmick-looking, entertaining film.

The new Mortal Kombat, filmed in South Australia, is ridiculous, brash, sweary, gory and a tonne of fun.

The story leaves a little to be desired, but seriously - who goes into a Mortal Kombat movie looking for story?

The film follows new character Cole Young (Lewis Tan, Wu Assassins), an MMA fighter who struggles to find his winning drive.

But when a mysterious, icy figure threatens his wife and daughter, Cole is plunged into a world he never knew existed. A world which explains the strange, dragon-shaped mark on his chest which he has had since birth.

He learns that he has been selected to fight for Earth in the ancient Mortal Kombat tournament, and must find his hidden inner superpower to stand any chance of surviving encounters with the enemy, especially those from the nefarious Outworld.

Along the way, Cole meets a slew of other 'marked' fighters, and a rambunctious ally - Aussie Jessica McNamee (The Meg) as Sonya Blade - who has spent years researching Mortal Kombat.

Those on his side include Jax (Mehcad Brooks, Supergirl), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin, Power Rangers), Kung Lao (Max Huang, Time Raiders) and Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano, Thor).

Seeking to do them harm is Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim, Fast and Furious 6) and Shang Tsung (Chin Han, Skyscraper), among others.

And then, in a category all of his own, is Kano.

Played by Aussie actor, writer and director Josh Lawson (Bombshell), Kano is the absolute stand-out of the entire film. He is foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, crude, disloyal and incredibly, incredibly entertaining.

There's barely a laugh in the film that doesn't belong to Lawson.

If Mortal Kombat proves to be a success with audiences, Lawson is going to become a household name around the world.

The film itself is actually beautifully designed and richly shot.

The sets feel more like adventure films from the 1980s - which is a massive compliment - than the clearly green-screened fare audiences are mostly treated to in modern blockbusters.

The costumes pay homage to the games and look like a lot of fun for the actors to wear.

The effects are also pretty decent - especially the Sub-Zero's ice powers.

There's a moment where he freezes the buckshot as it leaves a shotgun, and it's just thrilling to watch.

The diverse cast is also great to see, as is Lawson getting to use his native Australian accent (a luxury McNamee is not afforded).

And if you're a fan of over-the-top deaths, you've got the right film.

Rating: 7/10