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Is The Old 1995 Mortal Kombat Movie Better Than The 2021 Mortal Kombat Remake?

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Beware plenty of spoilers abound!

To start let me say that I enjoyed the original Mortal Kombat much more. Not that it was a superior movie in every aspect. But as a good friend of mine pointed out, on a whole, the original just has a lot more charm than this reboot.

As for me the story in the original is just more cohesive, it moves at a deliberate pace. Its very clear about where it's going, it never meanders. The original was one part action, one part adventure with a few romantic vibes throughout.

This new movie, lacks the cohesion of the old. And the acting was a bit disappointing when you consider the fact that they had some experienced actors attached. 

I loved Hiroyuki Sanada's performance in the "Last Samurai" but in this movie it feels as though he was miscast. The fact that they made subzero chinese and Scorpion Japaneese felt like an unneeded element. I get that they are setting them up as rivals but it felt extra. Especially since they never really follow up on their background. There is just a bunch of exposition throughout, about how Scorpion was essentially the greatest ninja ever and that a descendant of his would be the child of prophecy. It just didn't work very well for me.

Hiroyuki Sanada is a talented and well credited actor, I felt he should have had a role that was more important. Like "Raiden" or "the Great Kung Lao". He only had two fight scenes in the movie. They could have easily shown these as all flashbacks or even resurrected him somehow, since Shan Tsung was breaking all of the rules.

This brings me to my next point, what in the world was Raiden doing while Shang Tsung is going around the world killing all of earth realms champions? In the original movie Raiden is played by Christopher Lambert and he absolutely nails his role. Raiden is mysterious, wise and obviously very powerful. When he speaks he even sounds mystical. 

For whatever reason, the writers seem to make this new Raiden always a step behind Shang Tsung who is always on the offensive doing whatever he pleases. There is not a single scene where he shows out, or does something that makes you go okay, yea he's a boss. While Shang Tsung is sending his missions around the world assassinating champions, earth realm's Sonya Blade is working out of a trailer putting together little bits of information from around the world just trying to discover what the Mortal Kombat mark means. It makes no sense at all. Perhaps back in the 80s or early 90s this is acceptable. But in 2021 fans expect far better world building, plotting and just plain common sense by the protagonists. For me Raiden just did not live up to the hype. The writers did the actor a bad service. He just didn't have an opportunity to shine.

This brings me to my next point. Cole. He certainly seems like the protagonist, but he spends so much time in the movie trying to catch up to speed. By the time he does, it just feels a little hollow. I would have much preferred Liu Kang as the central protagonist not some made up character. His power was kind of weird and unexplainable. He has some kind of weird mix of body armor and weapons??? Strange and stranger to me.

Kano and Sonya blade were an improvement from the original movie. Both had much more opportunities to shine than before. Kano in particular steals the show in almost every single scene that he's in. I also highly enjoyed their one on one skirmishes. The one near the end was cool even if a bit absurd with her jumping out of secret compartments in the trailer to sneak attack Kano and then retreat before he could use his eye laser on her.

I had no issues with Shang Tsung who is played by Chin Han. He's had a number of side character roles in hollywood. I am a bit sad as he could have been soo much more. My favorite role by him was when he played the cricket minister(Jia Sidao) in Marco Polo. That role was the perfect showcase for him to play Shang Tsung. I felt he did well with what he had to work with but the way they wrote Shang Tsung was not the 500 year old, all powerful sorcerer. Instead he was the mystical cheat, from another world that was too scared to even fight in a tournament due to some random prophecy. He has a few cool scenes, but there was never any fear or dread from the main protagonists.

Goro was a huge disappointment to me. While they did a fantastic job on his look, sound and appearance. The plotting was just terrible. Goro is not some mindless henchmen that you just send out to do some random hit job. He's a prince, terrifying, with 4 arms and unlimited strength. Instead of fighting Cole till the end he goes after the family it was just too much. Why dumb down the character. Goro should be the boss 2nd in power to Shang Tsung. That job was beneath him. The fight wasn't even that fun. Since we don't see Goro fight and completely overwhlem one other person beforehand he doesn't get a chance to build up his cache with the viewer. I get it, special effects are expensive but I think movies run into trouble where they take a character and just take away his essence. Goro went from a crazy strong boss to be feared, to a mindless henchmen.

Last but not least Subzero and Scorpion. Two of the coolest and most recognizable characters in the games. First let me say, they should have kept their traditional look. Perhaps made some slight modifications but keep the overall look. We don't want to see anyone's face, we don't want to see anyone wearing armor. These two should be throwing punches and kicks all day and mix in some cool special effects every now and then to spice things up. For the most part I was pretty satisfied with Subzero. He did most of his cool special moves and pretty much looked the part. But I felt like Scorpion was over done. 

The beginning was great and sad and heavy. But by the time I realized this was scorpion I was like why are the spending so much time building Scorpion up? In the first movie, Scorpion was a boss, he has the monster coming out of the palm of his hand screeching, the fight was very stylized, a lot of punches a lot of strong kicks and acrobatics. But this early fight in the new Mortal Kombat movie is freely and openly showing his face. They are telling us he is exceptional and he has a family that is killed by subzero, who is an agent of Shang Tsung. For me part of the allure of Subzero and Scorpion is the mask. They are two crazy good ninjas that are fighting in the tournament. But the problem is that there is no tournament! Here they are just fighting to the death because of some prophecy, so in my head I'm like so Scorpion is the good guy? Scorpions descendant is really going to be the protagonist? I was like naaa that's not Mortal Kombat. This is like pre mortal kombat because Liu Kang should be the protagonist. 

If they wanted to do a scorpion v subzero rivalry film it would have worked much better to simply make a movie about them only their early history and background. Mortal Kombat fans would have loved that. Along the way Subzero kills Scorpion's family and Scorpion swears some type of revenge and so in the sequel when the Mortal Kombat Tournament actually starts up Scorpion is on earth realms side and etners to fight Subzero. That would have been much more effective. Because then Scorpion is an anti-hero of sorts, he's not the good guy but he's helping the good guys because of his beef with Subzero.

Sooo many things irked me with this movie. But all in all. I enjoyed it. If you were a fan of the mortal kombat games or the old movies I definitely say give this one a view. IF nothing else you'll enjoy the fights and special effects!

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  • Jim changed the title to Is The Old 1995 Mortal Kombat Movie Better Than The 2021 Mortal Kombat Remake?

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