Not Quite Finished

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By Paul Hall

I enjoyed Mortal Kombat the video game long ago (early 1990s). I didn’t win much — my brothers usually got to hear the call of “Finish Him” when fighting me, but it definitely was a brothers bonding thing without breaking the tables, which made my mom happy.

Now a new theatrical release of Mortal Kombat is ready to bring the battle back to the big screen.

Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is fighting in underground cage matches to provide for his family when he meets Jax (Mehcad Brooks). Enter Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), who brings with him a chilly desire to eliminate both Cole and Jax. While Jax stays to battle this intense opponent, Cole heads off to find Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) and attempts to put some perspective on the strange sequence of events.

Cole’s birthmark is the key; it indicates what he has inside him and makes him part of an elite club that includes champions of the Earthrealm who are recruited for an ultimate battle against the Outworld inhabitants and their supernatural powers. But are they ready for the brutality that awaits?

I immediately wanted to know how the fight sequences would play out, as I didn’t expect much backstory for our characters. I was pleased when Director Simon McQuoid took a brief amount of time to give us just a taste of character background without bogging down the progression to the action that drives Kombat. It’s that taste of the details that allows us to connect with some characters while leaving us wanting from others.

Mortal Kombat is loaded with battles, many of them head-to-head as if you were fighting your brother, at least in my case. The fights are like a beautifully choreographed dance in detailed environments. Oh, and the end kills are every bit as brutal as in the game and not for the weak-stomached.

Kombat is an R-rated film, and as such it can take the conclusions of battles and ramp them up to an extreme. It earns its rating.

Finally there are the one-liners. Your favorite game phrases from “Finish Him” to “Flawless” are there.

Mortal Kombat is by no means a great film by any measuring stick, but it was exactly what I hoped it would be. I was transported into the world of video games that had my younger brothers being able to kill me, but it was the good times, and the tears, of those days that I remember most while hearing the phrase — “Finish him.”

Paul’s Grade: B-

Mortal Kombat
Rated R
Stars: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Mehcad Brooks
Director: Simon McQuoid