Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mortal Kombat (1995)

              A video game movie that is still enjoyable to watch even though my teenage years have ended nearly a decade ago, am I that old already?  I didn’t play the video game much on any console but from what I did I do believe a good enough adaptation was created to the movie screen.  In my circle of friends at least, this movie reigned as the measuring tool for years against other video games trying to make it to Hollywood.  As I watched this movie in my teenage time on earth I loved all of the fight sequences and the music that accompanied it.  But I’m not commenting from the past, for the present begs to offer its insight.

                Isn’t it neat how we often watch movies we put up on a pedestal so high in our youth now seem ever so slightly different?  I suppose we want to remember the best parts of it and try to subconsciously hide the rest.  I’ll say this; Mortal Kombat is one of those rare movies for me that hold’s so much value.  After watching it countless times I might add.  It’s not entirely about the movie itself but all the great memories of watching it with friends growing up.  We went so far as to name ourselves for some of the characters, I was Rayden ha-ha!  A distinct factor in the movie I didn’t recall as much before now stands out like a sore thumb, the cheesiness factor.  Now was the movie cheesy?  Yes, but cheesy doesn’t always mean something negative, in this case it was actually rather fun.  Robin Shou, who plays Liu Kang, delivers some of the best corniest lines I’ve ever seen in a movie to this day.  I’m not making fun of this guy though it really makes the movie that much more awesome.  He also displays some interesting fighting techniques during battle on the comical side.  Linden Ashby, who plays Johnny Cage, is much more of a hilarious character than I remember.  His comedic timing is superb!  Let me round out the starring trio with Bridgette Wilson, who plays Sonya Blade, who obviously is in the movie to be eye candy.  It’s cute she gets into her role and actually has some fight scenes but it’s clear she wouldn’t be able to harm a fly.  I’ve wasted enough time right?  Nope, I’ll babble more.

                The mountain climbing atmosphere on the island was a good link to the ladder you climb in the video game which represents a mountain, fitting.  I read reviews and many comments that this movie had no plot.  I’ll disagree fairly easily to that.  For starters it’s rare to have no plot in a movie; it’s similar to stating the book I just read had no words.  Do I defend this movie due to my obvious liking of it?  Sure why not?  Aside I like to prove points with facts for the naysayers and haters.  The beginning of the movie had a recruitment phase which coaxed the fighters to journey to a destination to compete in a tournament to potentially stop an evil emperor from invading earth and making it a wasteland.  Right there is a plot without really having to go any further.  During the story the heroes find out about the truth of the tournament aside Liu Kang who knows about it but denies it is happening anyway.  Let’s be honest Liu wants blood, he’s here for vengeance!  Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) killed his brother.  They begin to fight and win victories for earth’s survival while drawing closer to the man Shang Tsung in order to win the tournament and stop the forthcoming invasion.

                Along the way you do see experience the lower caliber acting but the fight scenes are quite refreshing and have an engaging, exciting soundtrack.  I can completely understand why many people would tire of the spotty acting.  I just keep in mind if you’re watching this movie for the acting than you might want to reconsider why you’re watching it.  Creating character and emotions from video game ideas is an interesting undertaking.  And remember in most fighting based movies the dialogue and character development are the first to suffer.  I believe enough of the video game characters appeared to make it a legit fun spectacle of what the Mortal Kombat world could be.  It does seem it would be much darker but if it’s too evil and sinisterly bad how many teenage boys would be able to view it?  It had to be a toned down version of all the blood from the video game or it couldn’t make it to cinema successfully.  It was neat to see a dialogue that didn’t consist of profanity as a means to fill in lines either.

                The fight scenes I liked most were Scorpion versus Johnny Cage, Liu Kang versus Reptile, Johnny Cage versus Goro and Shang Tsung versus Liu Kang.  I’ll start with the Johnny Cage and Scorpion battle.  It was creepy to see the spear rope that shot out of Scorpion’s hand and chase after his opponent.  I liked how the battle hit on each of the characters special attacks or moves from the game.  You got to see Cage’s shadow kick just as Scorpion did his teleport move to transport them to a battleground it appeared Scorpion preferred.  Scorpion really kicked Cage’s behind but the hero must win after all.  The finale of the fight featured Scorpion ripping his face off to reveal his skeletal head.  He breathed fire as well until his untimely demise in which he exploded for some reason.  I love it though, I don’t know why he went boom but it was awesome!  You get to see Cage’s signature fatality as well as he leaves an autographed picture of himself in the wake of Scorpions death.

                Let’s go with Liu Kang and Reptile now.  I really loved Reptile’s character; it was actually a reptilian creature that was CGI.  It was a cloaking little sneak that at one point did spray Kang in the face showcasing its move from the game.  Liu Kang gets blasted through a very thick brick wall to start the fight.  How could you stand up from that?  Hero strength that’s how!  I love this movie’s use of what I like to call “hero” abilities.  It’s a straight forward fight that seems a lot more in sync than the other fights.  Liu gets his butt handed to him but heroes it up and bicycle kicks Reptile into submission.  I like the end when Reptile tries a slow pathetic escape and Liu just squishes him with his foot while yelling the most obscure expression I can remember in my life.

                Moving onto Johnny Cage and Goro, a four armed towering giant freak.  Cage challenges Goro through his pimp Shang Tsung.  Its funny when you say it like that isn’t it?  Ha-ha!  It’s true though, watch this movie!  Rayden gets ticked when he arrives to see the deal set and get some lip from Cage that it’s their fight to choose.  Goro up to this point has terrorized fairly weak opposition with his seemingly horrid breath; I always liked to assume Goro has some bad breath.  The fight sets stage inside an incredibly small arena, like the size of your bathroom.  Goro crushes Cage’s sunglasses and Shang Tsung demands a quick execution.  The classic, “I’ll crush him in one blow.” Line is excellent.  Cage instantly does the split kick attack from the game and nails Goro in the private sector.  Goro hunches over and Cage’s master plan is underway.  He is chased up to a cliff where Cage makes short work of him and sends him over the side.  A note you may want to jot down is, don’t crush Johnny Cage’s $500 dollar sunglasses.
                As the story concludes Shang Tsung must battle Liu Kang for the tournament and bragging rights as to who is the best Asian fighter in the movie.  Shang Tsung is an evil dude; he has the souls of thousands of fighters at his command.  It just takes him about five minutes to summon them while you watch and wonder what he’s doing.  Seriously Liu, why didn’t you attack him while he was seemingly defenseless?  Liu makes short work of the ancient fighters and chases Shang Tsung up to a second level while huge metal spikes slowly rise on the lower level.  Now that’s a fatality waiting to happen.  You get an awesome moment as Shang Tsung tries to morph into Liu’s brother to trick him off the ledge but Liu after much consideration decides it’s not the right thing to do.  The battle is simple and hero strong as Liu fireballs him off onto the spikes below.  Shang Tsung is defeated and earth is to be saved until the emperor in a rage breaks the rules and invades anyway.

                You can say there is no plot but you really just don’t like the movie most likely, which is absolutely fine.  It’s not a deep meaningful story but rather exactly what it’s supposed to be, a video game crossover.  The plot isn’t strong but it’s there.  The special effects were awesome and still hold well even today.  I know the lines nearly by heart, which does incline me to be biased but that’s what it’s all about.  I can also point out what makes the movie succeed and fail.  The cheesy dialogue is comical but entertaining and the fight scenes can appear to be choreographed to a fault but the movie still works.  I’ll admit that it is so bad that it’s actually good enough to satisfy me.  I have a deep past with this movie.  Sometimes outside factors really bring a movie to a special level.

                Rating: 8 of 10

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