Friday, October 5, 2012

I Never Played the Game...and This Movie Doesn't Sweeten the Pot: "Mortal Kombat" (1995)

Movies drawn from video games have a checkered history. While the bad examples are many (remember "Super Mario Bros."?), game fans are a testy bunch. Luckily, I never played the game Mortal Kombat, and have no clue about its back story or motivations. I can tell you that the 1995 film sucked.

Angry martial arts expert Liu Kang (the suave Robin Shou), angry spoiled Hollywood star Johnny Cage (the unmemorable Linden Ashby), and angry cop Sonya Blade (the pouty Bridgette Wilson) all travel to a mysterious island that looks a lot like Thailand to fight in a tournament being held by Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). It seems this is not your ordinary tournament with "best spirit" trophies and smelly locker rooms, but a tournament that can decide the fate of mankind. Our world is just one of many dimensions, and if us humans lose this Mortal Kombat tournament (placing second or third is not an option), then we open up some portals to some bad things from other dimensions. Our only hope are our three boring heroes, who must compete in seemingly impossible fights against Shang Tsung, who collects the souls of the thousands of warriors he has killed, and creatures like the four armed Goro. Luckily, the heroes have the inspirational words of Lord Rayden (a wigged Christopher Lambert), the god of lightning, to guide them, as well as Princess Kitana (an embarrassed looking Talisa Soto).

Again, I never played the game, so for those who have, and have seen the film- is the game this incredibly lame? Are all the fights seemingly lifted from 1980's straight to video Cannon Group fodder? Do the cardboard sets and Tiki torches make the player wonder when the luau is going to start? Does the game have character names that sound like heart medications?- "I was taking 30mg of Kitana, but then my doctor said Goro was found to be more effective."

Paul W.S. Anderson overreaches in the special effects department, coming up with some insanely bad computer animated sequences. I only understood every third word Lambert mumbled, and aside from Shou and Tagawa, the cast is awful. Shou has charisma, and Tagawa is usually more reliable, but trapped in this mess, neither can get anything going.

This film was followed by another sequel, and is set for still another remake next year (according to imdb.com). This "Mortal Kombat" however, is komplete krap. (*) out of five stars.