Some of you might remember the previous Mortal Kombat movies and series. Back in 1995, the first Mortal Kombat film came out and after that, it kind of went downhill as none of the follow-ups was able to match the original’s success. Nearly twenty years later, the saga gets a reboot with Mortal Kombat (2021). With its recent release, let’s take a look at how the video games differ from their movie counterpart.
Mortal Kombat Movie Vs Games: Introduction
The Mortal Kombat reboot stays pretty loyal to the original lore from the video games series, but not without a few changes here and there. It follows the storyline of the arcade game like the 1995 movie did, depicting the conflict between Earthrealm and Outworld through worldwide known classic characters such as Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), and Kano (Josh Lawson).
Simon McQuoid directed the movie whilst the screenplay is by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham and music by Benjamin Wallfisch; production took place in different locations situated in Souther Australia.
One of the major differences between the 2021 movie and the original games is the introduction of a new character, Cole Young, portrayed by actor Lewis Tan. The Chinese-British actor is also known for his roles as Zhou Cheng in Netflix‘s Iron Fist, Gaius Chau in the AMC series Into the Badlands, and Shatterstar in Deadpool 2 (2018). Cole Young, rumored to be related to Scorpion, is the lead character in the movie. While this kind of trick doesn’t always work well with such complex preexisting Universes, Cole is sapiently written to seamlessly fit in the Mortal Kombat storyline – with Tan’s exquisite performance.
Mortal Kombat Movie Vs Games: Sub-Zero and Scorpion
Scorpion and Sub-Zero are the untouchable classic characters of the MK universe, therefore not much has changed in terms of outfits and background story: Sub-Zero exterminates Scorpion’s family and kills him, with Scorpion himself becoming a Specter. Confined in the Netherrealm, Scorpion seeks vengeance for the murder of his family and the fall of his clan by the hand of Sub-Zero.
Without spoiling the movie for you, what I can tell you is that Scorpion’s resurrection happens in a different way from what you may remember from the video games. We also get a fresh new point of view to observe his character: instead of picking the fire-breathing anti-hero format, Mortal Kombat (2021) depicts Scorpion as the hero with an unfortunate destiny who’s ultimately given a chance to change it.
The next big difference between the Mortal Kombat games and the latest film is that for the first time ever we get some sort of explanation behind the characters’ superpowers. It is known that in the games, each character has some special characteristic that they were either born with or they gained through magic or cyber augmentations; the movie explains how every character is born with an inner power that gets awakened with hard training and – ultimately – the dragon mark, a much-appreciated reference to the video games logo.
Although the concept works, it feels like it briefly brushes the surface of what could be an abyss of background story. The whole inner power that gets unleashed through physical training and meditation idea seems to be inspired by the ancient Chinese concept of Qi and the Shaolin monks philosophy, but in the movie serves the sole purpose of holding superpowers and plot together.
Mortal Kombat Movie Vs Games: The Tournament
Worth a mention between the major changes is also the fact that there is no official tournament in the movie. Old-time fans will surely remember how the tournament itself was the main pillar in Mortal Kombat‘s plot: the results of said tournament would, in fact, determine if the Outworld would be able to invade the Earthrealm, changing it forever.
However, the video game series did make some major revolutions in this storyline already, in order to spice up things in their franchise and keep the players interested in their games.
Besides these major changes in the plot, some other minor events are told differently in the movie. For example, how Jax loses his arms, or Kano’s alliances, and some aesthetic choices regarding some other characters’ designs, such as Reptile. One classic character that does not make an appearance in the movie is Johnny Cage, which will probably leave a bitter taste in some old-school hardcore fans. But don’t panic: The film’s producer Todd Garner revealed today there is a possibility of a Johnny Cage-centric standalone film in the future. Professional wrestler “The Miz” has openly expressed interest in the role of Johnny Cage and has even received the support of Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon. Fingers crossed! Could this be The Miz’s return on the big screen?
After discussing what differences Mortal Kombat adopts in comparison to the games, it’s only fair to mention how similar they are in other aspects. Fans will be happy to know that besides the aforementioned differences, the background lore keeps the promise. In addition to that, almost all the character designs are true to the games and look awesome, with the iconic Sub-Zero and Scorpion outfits tailored to match a more modern and less tacky aesthetic to appeal new audiences. The movie also features fatalities and special moves that pull from all eras of the series and result in good entertainment. The fights are appropriately brutal as one would expect from this franchise, and there’s a decent number of Easter eggs for its eagle-eyed connoisseurs. Overall, Mortal Kombat is an enjoyable product and one of the most loyal video game adaptations to date, which is a rarity these days.
Mortal Kombat was released in theatres internationally on April 8, 2021, and was then released in the United States on April 23, simultaneously in theaters in 3D and on the HBO Max streaming service. Things are a bit different regarding its release in Japan, expected on June 18, 2021 despite not having any Mortal Kombat games released officially in the country due to CERO video games rules concerning excessive gore. (If you know, you know!)
Have you watched Mortal Kombat yet? Will you watch it anytime soon? What are your expectations? Let us know in the comments. New to the MK saga? Read more about the latest products of the Mortal Kombat franchise here.