Let’s get this out of the way right now: Mortal Kombat is a terrible movie. Awful. Garbage. The only real metric by which it could be considered “successful” or even “good” is when watched back-to-back with its sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Which I did. Ask me why later.
Really, the problem is twofold. In addition to having a story that somehow feels thinner than the game that inspired it, there isn’t a single character in Mortal Kombat that appears capable of punching their way out of an orphanage with a no returns policy. (Is that the saying?) For a movie comprised almost entirely of fight sequences, Mortal Kombat’s fight sequences SUCK. They suck so hard, you guys.
They suck so hard that I decided to rank them from least sucky to Liu Kang vs. Sub-Zero. Take a guess at which fight I hated most.
Liu Kang vs. Reptile
An obvious winner if there ever was one, Liu Kang vs. Reptile not only features some pretty stellar striking exchanges (there’s a front flip dropkick, a jumping switch kick, and the nastiest muay Thai plum work this side of Silva vs. Franklin in the opening minute alone), but the far-and-away best music of the movie that isn’t the MK theme song. There’s just something about that techno dance beat that makes you want to fight and/or get nasty, you know? It’s why I still throw on “Wisconsin Death Trip” by Static-X every time I’m at the gym, and why I’ve also had to switch gyms for reasons I won’t get into here.
The real highlight of the fight for me, though, is Kang’s spinning wheel kick-to-Showtime kick-to-double flying knee combo at the 2:08 mark. If this kid could have figured out how not to telegraph every single strike he throws by shouting first, he could’ve been a contender. A CONTENDER, I tells ya!
Johnny Cage vs. Scorpion
Can I just address how insane it is that none of the “mortal” characters in Mortal Kombat ever seem to question the reality of (or even bat an eye at) the dimension-bending madness happening around them? Johnny Cage is a Hollywood action star — a slightly more charismatic, ginger Steven Seagal, if you will — who gets transported to Hell during a fight against an undead warrior with a skeleton face and a sentient kunai thingy coming from his palm, and he’s just like, “Huh, get a load of this guy.” Discovering that there is in fact an afterlife filled with exploding demon skeletons doesn’t even warrant a double take in this guy’s world.
Anyway, Cage’s fight with Scorpion is pretty solid overall, but it is surprising that both he and Kang were able to get the upper hand on their opponents by using an object in their environment like a stripper pole. But props to Scorpion for going out on his shield and taking that L like a champ. I’ve been saying for years that all UFC fighters should be fitted with self-destructing detonators that go off the minute they lose, but have only gotten like one athletic commission to back me up on it.
(It’s Texas, in case you’re wondering.)
Johnny Cage vs. Goro
OK, so the fights in Mortal Kombat experience a pretty steep drop-off in quality from this point on, but I’m giving the No. 3 spot to Johnny Cage vs. Goro for two reasons:
- The dick punch
- “Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole.”
First of all, you’ve got to respect Johnny Cage for willingly putting himself in such a vulnerable position on what was essentially a gamble. He had no idea whether or not Goro even had a dick, or whether said dick was just another arm cocked and ready to deliver the uppercut of all uppercuts to his jugular, and yet he dropped into the worst possible position that one could put themselves in against a four-armed superbeast to deliver that nutshot. That takes balls, plain and simple.
While I do question Cage’s decision to not just unload on Goro’s grill with 4,000 kicks when he had him rocked, it’s all worth it for the pair of one-liners he gets to deliver when finishing Goro off.
Liu Kang vs. Shang Tsung
Shang Tsung is the Dillon Danis of Mortal Kombat. That’s right, I said it. After all that mess he talks about “the souls of a thousand dead warriors he has defeated flowing through his veins,” he puts on an absolutely piss-poor performance when challenged by a guy who, to my knowledge at least, has only one soul. Tsung lands maybe one shot before turning the fight into a 4-on-1, and his most effective offense of the entire scrap is a damn wristlock arm drag, for Christ’s sake.
The base level moves of a WWE Cruiserweight should not be the same as a soul-stealing demigod, is all I’m saying.
But aside from the weak offense, it’s the pacing that really kills this fight. I’m all for the occasional mid-fight staredown, but Kang vs. Tsung is more like two punches, staredown, one throw, staredown with trash talk, two kicks, staredown with your dead brother who’s attempt to trick you into letting your guard down involves asking “Remember when our parents died?”
It’s just too much. Or too little. Either way it sucks.
Sonya Blade vs. Kano
Sonya Blade’s warm-up punches ≥ RTxI0fx
Liu Kang vs. Nub
I don’t have much to say about this fight, really, other than that it features two panther growls. That is two too many panther growls, especially for a guy who gets KTFO by a damn dropkick. Your sauce is weak, Nub. It’s weak.
Liu Kang vs. Sub-Zero
For being “The Chosen One” and all, Liu Kang has the approximate fight IQ of a 42-year-old biology teacher with six months of sprawl training. Must come with the nickname, I guess.
Not to mention, his fight with Sub-Zero, possibly the most revered and famous of all the Mortal Kombat characters, is pure trash. More of a tumbling competition than a fight, really. Sub-Zero throws weaker punches than CM Punk, has the striking defense of, well, CM Punk, and gets KO’d by the very thing from which he draws his power. It’s a rather pathetic showing for one of the Shadowrealm’s deadliest warriors, if you ask me.
And that’s another thing about all the Mortal Kombat fighters, really: they’re quitters. We just saw 115-pound Jessica Andrade soldier through like 850 punches to the face at UFC 211 and keep coming back for more, but every last one of these guys are either knocked stone cold dead by a teep to the chest or throw in the towel at the first sign of resistance.
Here, Sub-Zero resorts to sorcery after being hit with like two kicks, and even said sorcery requires a 15 minute buffer time before it actually works. Thank God Liu Kang was smart enough to piece together Princess Kitana’s needlessly convoluted riddle about “the element which brings life” in time to defeat the guy, or else he would’ve been powerless to avoid the Giant Ice Ball Which Can Be Avoided By a Leisurely Pace In The Opposite Direction.
In conclusion, f*ck this fight, and f*ck pretty much every fight in the garbage Mortal Kombat movies. Which I love. Because I am a garbage person. I just hope you are a garbage person and love them too.