When Warner Bros. made the decision to move all of their 2021 releases to a hybrid release schedule where they release in theaters and on HBO Max for 31-days, there were a lot of extreme reactions on all ends. While there were some movies where this would seem like a detriment, there were others that could very much benefit from it, and Mortal Kombat is one of those movies. This is a series with a dedicated fanbase, but a fanbase is not usually enough to make a movie break even at the box office. Those fans were always going to go see it, but someone who isn't vaccinated yet, stuck at home on a Friday night, who has an HBO Max subscription? They might check Mortal Kombat out just for something to do. Warner Bros. recently hosted a preview event for Mortal Kombat, and we got to see the first thirteen minutes of the movie. The footage that we saw is largely shown in the following teaser.
Mortal Kombat First Impressions
This first impressions review is going to be spoiler-free in the sense that we're not going to talk about specific plot points. The footage shows that this isn't a current-day fight scene, so it is a prologue before the movie's title screen. In terms of tone, it doesn't do much to tell us what kind of movie this is going to be. I say this with all of the love in the world, but Mortal Kombat is utterly ridiculous and kind of stupid. That's not a bad thing, but this prologue leans into some pretty heavy stuff. What is the tone of the rest of the movie going to be? It's hard to say from this footage but even looked at as a short stand-alone film; this scene is very well done. We are introduced to the characters, understand their relationships, and understand the stakes once things go sideways.
Mortal Kombat is about the fight, and this scene does not hold back with the fight scenes. The editing is well done that you can follow where each character is even as people are slicing each other to ribbons. There isn't ever a moment where you lose sight of the main character, no matter how chaotic the fight around him might be getting. The fights are brutal, and there is plenty of blood to go around, but it's not completely over the top. It's R-rated violence, but it's also the sort of tastefully done R-rated violence. Again, will this be the tone of all of the fights and the gore for the entire movie? It's hard to say, but this scene isn't gratuitous like one might expect from a Mortal Kombat movie which is probably going to surprised a lot of people, including the fans.
In terms of a prologue, these first thirteen minutes are interesting and well done, but it's hard to tell whether or not they are setting the stage for the entire movie or if they are an outlier compared to everything else we're going to see. A couple of things happen in these scenes that are going to make fans extremely happy to see, but they might leave new fans confused. We'll have to see if the movie makes sure to take the time to explain why some people in the audience just lost their minds or if they'll be left in the dark for the rest of the runtime. Count us interested and curious to see what this cast and crew bring to the table.
In "Mortal Kombat," MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld's Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family's safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth's greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul—in time to save not only his family, but to stop Outworld once and for all?
Mortal Kombat, directed by Simon McQuoid, stars. Ludi Lin, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Lawson, Lewis Tan, Chin Han, and Hiroyuki Sanada. It will be released on April 16, 2021, in theaters and on HBO Max for 31-days.