Mortal Kombat Review

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Movie adaption of the popular martial arts video game.


So far, the record of computer game-to-movie adaptations is dismal: Super Mario Bros, Double Dragon and Street Fighter were all knocked out of the ring before the opening weekend figures were in. Based on the most violently popular (or popularly violent) game of all, Mortal Kombat is, like its heroes, fighting for the existence of its species. As if that weren't handicap enough, this also falls into the dreaded category of First American Film From A British Director Whose First British Film Wasn't That Much Cop, as Paul Anderson (responsible for the woeful Shopping) steps up to bat after the strike-out of Danny Cannon's Judge Dredd.

The filmmakers try to solve the problem of turning an experience which merely consists of a series of fights into a story by... ignoring it, presenting a film which merely consists of a series of fights. The set-up cross-breeds Enter The Dragon with Dr. Strange as cosmic goodie Rayden (Lambert, doing the David Carradine role) and baddie Shung Tsu (Tagawa) pick up sides for a martial arts tournament which will decide the fate of the Earth.

In our corner are Chinese ass-kicking sensation Liu Kang (Shou), Rambette Special Forces butt-walloper Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson) and preening, bum-bashing movie star Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby), all of whom have martial arts moves to spare. Lined up in opposition are a bunch of petulant, smug, super-powered stooges, one of whom has four arms.

Anderson does a good job of edging humour into dumbness - Lambert gets a few witty looks - and the art direction and effects are okay. But all the head-crushing and thigh-flexing doesn't compensate for the monotony of a story that simply traipses from one combat (sorry, kombat) to the next.

By the time the big, world-saving bout comes around, it's hard not to wish that Shung Tsu would settle the fate of mankind by asking Liu Kang what the capital of Venezuela is... rather than engaging him in yet another round of supernaturally assisted dirty fighting.