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"Mortal Kombat," released April 23, tells the story of a group of powerful fighters in a tournament.

For fans of cheesy movies and extreme violence, “Mortal Kombat” has done what many video game movies fail to — give an experience similar to the series without removing what makes it special to its fans. The series is about a group of powerful individuals fighting in a tournament that gets more absurd with each sequel. 

The film keeps itself mindlessly fun with intense action, hokey dialogue and a simple plot that audiences will enjoy.

In the tournament of Mortal Kombat, Earth and Outworld are competing for the entertainment of the gods. Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is unwittingly involved in the contest when Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) and Jax (Mehcad Brooks) save him from the Outworld assassin Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim). 

The plot gives a simple reason for everyone to get straight into the amazing action. Although it’s not the most exciting premise, the film at least understands that people want gratuitous violence — not a heartwarming story. Having always been infamous for blood and violence, the film refuses to hold back any details. 

While certain aspects of the film are odd, like each fighter having its own ability or the Outworld being part of another dimension, the movie jumps headfirst into the weirdness of it. It’s entertaining to find out how different characters discover their special ability such as Kano’s (Josh Lawson) laser eye.

With characters at different levels of skill at their introduction, it becomes more exciting to find out how characters will become stronger. Classic fighters like Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) and Kung Lao (Max Huang) are already knowledgeable about the contest and flaunt their skills, using the cocky and crude Kano as the butt of every slapstick joke. 

Speaking of jokes, the film has plenty of them making fun of the ridiculousness of many situations. For instance, Cole points out that the secret tournament spelled “combat” wrong. Kano has many one-liners, such as making fun of characters’ appearances or abilities, noting his eye is cooler than fireballs or Kung Lao’s razor-sharp hat.

The straight-laced delivery of many cheesy lines only makes the movie goofier. While they’re appreciated as references to the games, like Kano announcing his own victory over a monster, they always feel awkward. It’s a lot less cool for someone else to announce they’ve done their fatality — an even more extremely violent move to kill an enemy in grotesque form — than for an announcer to do such. 

Even Scorpion’s signature “get over here!” feels off in some inexplicable way. Another classic part is the necessity for every character to act overly cool. This comes with the weight of either throwing out stupid one-liners or not saying a word in fights.

The classic rivalry between Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Sub-Zero is brought to life in a fantastic and thrilling battle. Sub-Zero hunts down Scorpion’s bloodline throughout the film to prevent a prophecy from being fulfilled that would result in Outworld losing the tournament and preventing it from controlling Earth forever. Both men display their prowess with the use of many of their special moves, giving fans a visual treat. 

Much like the games, characters tend to shrug off any injuries received to keep the fighting on an even playing ground and at a fast pace. This adds to the excitement of the fights while also adding to the humor with ridiculous recoveries like Cole emerging from a collapsed barn or a dislocated shoulder immediately being popped back into place.

While rare in the movie, fatalities are another treat given the comically obscene violence associated with them. These should please fans of the series or those who just enjoy over-the-top action movies.

Sub-Zero proves himself as an intimidating adversary in each fight. The frequent weaponizing of ice proves deadly to his foes with bloody results such as deep cuts in the gut or the shattering of limbs due to the cold-induced frigidness. Every time he appears, there’s the immediate thought of, “Who is he going to massacre now?” given how he easily handles most people.

“Mortal Kombat” brings the series to life faithfully, unlike the first attempt at films in the ’90s. Bloody action and gore are the only parts of the film the audience should be expecting, given it’s at least 80% of the plot. For a specific audience, this movie hits all the right notes and will get audiences excited for any potential sequels this film builds up to.

Contact Caleb Barbachem at For more on the culture, arts and  lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.