Being the reclusive gamer type that I am, I’ve spent the last week playing the newly released Mortal Kombat 11 on PS4. I’ve been breaking bones, decapitating my enemies, and setting people on fire. You never got that in Pac-Man. Anyway the experience got me thinking of one of my ultimate guilty pleasure films, the ass-kicking, rave scored bad-movie classic Mortal Kombat from way back in 1995.
I say ‘bad-movie’ but honestly I consider MK to be a legitimately fine film. The thing is I think that’s because I was in the right place at the right time to really appreciate it. MK is squarely aimed at the 13 year old boy market and guess what, I was a 13 year old boy back then! I’m still a boy by the way just to clear up any confusion. I actually remember renting the VHS and keeping it for a couple of extra nights racking up about twenty viewings.
Fast forward 13 years and I’m watching again to see if it holds up. I’m pleased to report Mortal Kombat is still a huge amount of fun. Yes it’s immensely dumb, yes it’s dated a lot, and yes some of the special effects are terrible but this all contributes to it’s awesomeness. What was so cool to me back then has done a complete 360 and is now great for different reasons.
Let me get everyone up to speed on what Mortal Kombat is about. Imagine Enter the Dragon but with magic and an early 90s rave soundtrack. Evil kung-fu sorcerer Shang Tsung invites a group of fighters from Earth to a fight to the death tournament on a mysterious island. If the fighters from Earth lose the tournament then the emperor of a dimension known as Outworld can invade our world. High stakes indeed, with our heroes including Chinese shaolin warrior Lui Kang, cheesy action movie star Johnny Cage, and special forces soldier Sonya Blade.
Its total B-movie fare so who better to hire as director than king of cheesy videogame film adaptations – Paul WS Anderson. Yeah f**k you Uwe Boll! (that’ll teach him for unfollowing me on twitter). Co-incidentally Paul Anderson directed the last movie in my Guilty Pleasures series so the man has form.
A large reason why Mortal Kombat is such fun is Anderson takes the source material completely seriously and runs with it. Previous game to movie efforts like Super Mario Bros and Street Fighter almost seemed embarrassed of the games they were based on so completely changed the storylines. Mortal Kombat, on the other hand, sticks to the ridiculous plot of the games. So we have a huge four armed monster being punched in the balls, undead ninjas shooting ice or spears from their hands, and a bad CGI reptile transforming into another evil ninja to take on Lui Kang. Every character from the original game and a few from Mortal Kombat 2 are in the film and behave like their digitised version.
This isn’t to say that Mortal Kombat is a good film in the sense that it’s well written or acted, or even well directed. What makes MK a guilty pleasure is it’s cool fight scenes, memorable settings, cheesy script, topped off with a big dollop of nostalgia. Aside from Silent Hill it’s probably the most accurate (apart from a glaring lack of blood and gore) adaptation of a popular videogame and is all the better for it.
Give Mortal Kombat a watch if you want a big silly dose of 90s action. Even if you don’t watch the whole thing you can still enjoy its f**king banging intro music. MORTAL KOMBAT!!!
Have you seen Mortal Kombat or were you doing better things in 1995? Have you played Mortal Kombat 11 yet? If so, fancy a fight on PS4? What are your guilty pleasure films? Let me know in the comments below!
Screenkicker Paul Anderson Quality Index (SPAQI)