Terribly Awesome: Mortal Kombat (1995)

TA_mortal kombat poster
BY ERIN TORRANCE

With Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii out in theatres last weekend, I can’t help but reminisce over his past directorial days of Mortal Kombat (1995). That’s right; it’s reminisce-worthy material. Before Pompeii, Anderson was mostly known for his work in onscreen adaptations of video games. And if there is any video game that should be put to screen, Mortal Kombat is definitely high in the ranks. Of course, Anderson is better known for his work on the Resident Evil film series and AVP: Alien vs. Predator; Mortal Kombat is just most worthy of a Terribly Awesome column post.

So the basic premise behind this flick is a battle between good and evil—the top mortal martial artists take on Tsung’s army of phantom warriors (the souls he takes from those who lose each battle) to save the world.

(Full disclosure: I’m not a video game enthusiast. [I’m one of those people who frantically hits any button and always played Goro, so I always won, even though I knew that it’s considered cheating to play Goro, as this film also so aptly points out.] Just don’t be upset if I don’t mention the minor details or intricacies that make it more or less an aberration of the original game.)

It may have just a 33% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.8 on IMDB, but just consider its tagline: “Nothing in this world has prepared you for this.” You can read that whichever way you’d like.

Why it’s terrible:

  • Liu Kang’s suddenly remembering that, oh yes, he’s fighting in the tournament to save the world. Saving the world is always an afterthought…
  • Lord Raiden’s laser/lightning eyes and powers, and his electrified one-finger warning
  • Newspaper tabloid of Johnny Cage, “The Fake” (Rawr.)
  • Terrible special effects, particularly when the skull appears in the sky
  • Johnny Cage’s collapse into the water with his extra luggage and his later struggle lugging it up the steps of the temple
  • Reptile in his entirety
  • The signed Johnny Cage portrait coming into the shot in mint condition after Scorpion explodes
  • Johnny Cage’s crotch shot on Goro
  • Liu Kang’s realization of the one loophole that could save Sonya (that she has to agree to fight Shang Tsung) and Raiden’s proud moment—“I have nothing left to teach you Lui Kang”

Why it’s awesome:

  • Shang Tsung’s boat: the tattered Chinese-inspired dragon “pirate ship” is actually pretty dark and badass
  • Entry of Scorpion and Sub-Zero, the “deadliest of enemies.” Music and all, it’s just epic
  • Every bit of music accompanying every fight—I don’t know whether I’m at a rave or in a heavy metal mosh pit, but either way, I’m pumped for violence
  • Sexy Sonya Blade’s black mom jeans, later turned Daisy Duke’s
  •  “Flawless victory,” “Fatality,” “Finish him”—pretty much every quotation from the game
  • Liu Kang’s long, untamed hair
  • “Get over here!”/”Come here!”—again, pretty much every Scorpion quotation from the game

(Sidenote: When I first turned on the film, it was stuck in some kind of fast-forward-type mode; it just made everything so much more awesome. I strongly recommend trying it.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG3sjYA94G4]
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