Mortal Kombat (M18)
Starring Lewis Tan, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Chin Han
Directed by Simon McQuoid
Badass, thrilling and smart. Enough about Nobody, let’s talk about Mortal Kombat, an action flick that committed the cardinal sin of being high on stunts but low on actual excitement. Based on the notoriously violent video game, Mortal Kombat concerns the fate of humanity being tied to a pugilist tournament between Outworld (they bad) and Earthrealm (that’s us), with a bland Lewis Tan (Wu Assassins) as the Chosen One reluctantly pulled into the death match. First-time feature director Simon McQuoid dials down the techno-cheesiness of Paul WS Anderson’s 1995 version (which begat a woeful sequel two years later) and cranks up the gore (holy exploding nogging!) and expletives (“I did six tours, motherf***er!”), settling for a more grim and serious tone, a move that’ll appease fans and red-meat eaters. Others, however, will probably stay for the action, which is reasonably passable… if the John Wick films never existed. McQuoid should’ve grounded the kung-fu-ery and let his actors unleash their fists of fury with minimal CG dressing; the SPFX-tinged brawls just look unspiried, silly and, er, video-gamey. (Okay, okay, Joe Taslim’s Sub-Zero has a nifty scene or two.) Elsewhere, the cast — including Chin Han as a sorcerer (no laughing at the back!) — while admirably diverse, are saddled with soul-sucking dire-logue between the kicks and punches. Remember Ninja Assassin, that 2009 movie starring K-pop sensation Rain? Lots of action. Lots of splatter. But not a lot of fun. Mortal Kombat is kinda like that — except no Rain, just pain.(**1/2)
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