Mortal Kombat is back in everyone's lives with a brand new reboot film. It's gory and action-packed, exploring the new and old elements from the video game franchise while managing to squeak out a little bit of fun along the way. The 4K UHD release with HDR10 looks impressive in its low-light situations, and the Dolby Atmos track is energetic and explosive. There is more than an hour of bonus features that are all worthwhile as well. Highly Recommended!
A whole generation of kids and adults became immersed in the video game world of Mortal Kombat, a game that pitted two fighters from Earth and other planets against each other to the death. It was graphic, bloody, and a ton of fun. The realistic-looking game became an international phenomenon that led to the 1995 feature film Mortal Kombat directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Event Horizon) and its sequel, Annihilation, two years later. Some ten video games later, a reboot was put on the table from producer James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) and first-time director Simon McQuaid. And they have reimagined the story and characters into a bloody R-rated version of Mortal Kombat that should satisfy fans of the ever-growing franchise.
There is quite a lot of world-building in this first reboot film, which sets up more sequels. However, things move at a quick pace to dive into action sequences rather than showcase dramatic dialogue-driven scenes. This is a relatively good element as to not drag down the goal at hand - fantastic fights, blood, and characters revealing their superhuman abilities, which is brought to life from co-writer David Callaham (The Expendables, WW84). The opening few minutes takes place in 17th century Japan where a guy named Bi-Han with an uncanny ability to freeze people and objects attacks the peaceful village of Hanzo Hasashi, a super-skilled ninja who is deadly with a dagger attached to a rope.
After this sequence, the film cuts to the present day and follows Cole, a sub-par MMA fighter with a dragon birthmark. Meanwhile, the Outworld led by the soul-sucking madman Shang Tsung is readying his fighters to invade Earth in order to cheat on the tenth and final Mortal Kombat tournament so that he may destroy and rule the universe. Luckily, Sonya Blade and Jax, two former elite force partners, track down Cole and convince him to join their cause and fight for Earth's survival. This all culminates in several fights between the Mortal Kombat roster, complete with fireballs, robot arms, a saw-blade hat, lightning bolts, and an eye laser to name a few methods of dismemberment. What's great about this reboot is how each of these fighters develops their supernatural abilities, which stem from each individual's inner psyche and their struggles and in turn, coincides with their newfound powers.
The movie, for the most part, takes itself seriously, but when the character of Kano (Josh Lawson from House Of Lies) is introduced as a scummy mercenary, the film tackles its comedic element. He acts as the conduit to the audience of all the insane elements happening in the so-called real world. His drunken, angry Australian character provides some much-needed comic relief in the most vulgar of ways. The rest of the cast plays it straight and narrow with the exception of the usual iconic one-liners that have become synonymous with this franchise.
This film was made to be seen with friends due to the sheer amount of great moments where fan-favorite characters perform their unique fight sequence complete with their signature fatality and the added line of dialogue. It can be silly, but it works due to the graphic nature of the film and how much fun everyone is having on-screen. The gore is not only delegated to burst of blood here either. For the gore-hounds, there are plenty of guts, entrails, and intensely graphic death scenes that will cause an audible cheer.
The film takes a few minutes to find its footing with its tone and pacing, but once it does, Mortal Kombat never lets up with its fighting, blood, or introducing those famous characters from the game franchise. The score by Benjamin Walfisch adds to the modern-day techno and rock tunes that are popular today while always paying homage to that 1990's iconic score. The performances are a little dry here and there with the exception of Lawson, but within time, these actors will have more time to develop the dramatic side of their characters. That being said, their performances ring true, and of course, it's always wonderful to see an actor from The Raid fight again, specifically in this universe. Mortal Kombat is a great stepping stone into a rebooted franchise that promises to keep fans of the video game franchise happy and clamoring for more. Highly Recommended!
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Mortal Kombat finishes itself to 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital Copy, courtesy of Warner Bros. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve featuring the blue and orange iconic characters from the film. There is an insert for a digital copy as well.
Mortal Kombat fights its way to a 2160p 4K UHD transfer with HDR10 in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 that looks excellent with nuanced colors and vivid detail.
The opening sequence is a peaceful, serene landscape with delicious green plants and trees surrounding the Japanese-like garden and house that has a fantasy-like white glow. The red blood is fierce and bright when villains attack, splattering on all the earthy tones nicely. Once in the present day, the color palette changes to darker and gloomier settings with tons of orange and darkly lit sequences reminiscent of the original films and the video game. Bright pops of color do stand out with Kano's red laser eye, neon signs in the background, and even some of the red blood and guts. It isn't until Sub-Zero enters the frame where the amazing shades of blue come to light. When they contrast perfectly with the orange and yellow colors, the image looks pitch-perfect. The HDR10 enhances those varying shades of blue and yellow perfectly from Sub-Zero's eyes to his blue suit and ice knives.
Red blood shines brighter as well against the orange cave walls and sand on the ground. Black levels are mostly deep and inky. However, a lot of the film is shot in low-lit rooms or exteriors, so there is a tiny bit of murkiness to shadows and bleeding. But it's barely noticeable. Skin tones are a bit orange at times but appear mostly natural. Raiden's lightning bolts are an excellent shade of white as well.
The detail keeps its sharpness up, even in the dark scenes, and gives way to individual hairs, gory wounds - both practical and CGI effects - and textures in the costumes. Wider shots also look great and never flat. Lastly, there were no major video problems to speak of.
This release comes with an excellent Dolby Atmos mix that utilizes each speaker in a fine-tuned and well-balanced manner. Sound effects are robust and loud right from the start where various ninjas are heard from all over the soundscape moving, yelling, and getting killed. The slashes and blood splatter sound excellent and gooey. Various sound effects of lighting, thunder, and huge magical powers all sound wonderful with smooth transitions from speaker to speaker. Ambient noises of people talking in the background and magical elements in the caves all have a big noise to them as well.
The sound really kicks into gear with the score by Benjamin Wallfisch, especially a climactic moment when a familiar tune rolls onto the sound system in a big way. The low end of bass has a fantastic rumble to it when the action picks up and never disappoints. The overhead speakers are ripe with sounds from above with attacks, blades flying through the air, a laser eye, and inclement weather and debris falling down. The sound of freezing ice is also fully immersive when Sub-Zero utilizes his magic destruction. The dialogue is always clean and clear, even behind masked characters, and free of any audio issues.
There are about 68 minutes of bonus features here, including tons of behind-the-scenes footage, a few deleted scenes, and even some easter eggs that are talked about. Overall, these are some fun extras for fans of the film and video game franchise. The bonus features are only featured on the Blu-ray Disc of this set.
This reboot of Mortal Kombat is a remarkable start to hopefully, a new franchise with great fight scenes, good character development, and even a little bit of fun. All the elements are here, paying tribute to the video game franchise and original films while also exploring some new territory with amazing blood and guts along the way. The 4K UHD with HDR10 looks amazing and the Dolby Atmos track is phenomenal. There are some great extras as well. Highly Recommended.