Everything We Know

Everything We Know About Mortal Kombat

Which characters are in it (and which aren't)? Who's playing them? How closely will the story mirror the games? We break it all down.

by | February 19, 2021 | Comments

Mortal Kombat

Get over here! — because we’ve got all the info you’ll need about the upcoming Mortal Kombat movie. An action-packed, R-rated adaptation of the classic fighting video game series, Mortal Kombat looks like it might be the rare video game movie that’s actually pretty good (or, at least, pretty fun). Here’s the rundown on what to expect from the film, which comes out on April 16.


IT WILL PREMIERE IN THEATERS AND ON HBO MAX

Mortal Kombat (2021)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Mortal Kombat, like all of Warner Bros.’ 2021 movies, will be available to stream on HBO Max for no additional cost on the same day it premieres in theaters, on April 16, 2021. WarnerMedia, which owns both the famed film studio and the streaming service, made the somewhat controversial decision due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as it’s still unclear when the masses will be able or willing to see movies in theaters. Mortal Kombat will open in theaters (including in Imax) on April 16, but it can also be safely streamed at home, though the film will only be available on HBO Max for one month before going down the traditional premium VOD route.


IT’S DIRECTED BY SOMEBODY WITH VIDEO GAME EXPERIENCE

Mortal Kombat was directed by Simon McQuoid, and while it’s the Australian director’s feature film debut, he’s a fairly prolific director of commercials. And, crucially for those wondering if he has the chops to helm a big action movie based on a video game, McQuoid has directed ads for Call of Duty and Halo. Greg Russo, who co-wrote the script with Dave Callaham (The ExpendablesWonder Woman 1984), is another relative unknown, but Aquaman director James Wan is producing, which bodes well.


THE FIRST TRAILER SHOWCASES THE FRANCHISE’S BRUTAL STREAK

Mortal Kombat (2021)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

An ad for HBO Max’s upcoming slate of movies featured a quick glimpse of Mortal Kombat earlier this year, but the first proper trailer debuted on February 18. Fans of the video game series and its notoriously violent finishing movies will be pleased to know that there’s a “red band” trailer — essentially meaning the trailer itself is rated-R. Considering that Kano drops an F-bomb and there’s tons of bloody, gory action (Sub-Zero stabs Scorpion with his own frozen blood!), the trailer seems like a fitting promotion for the movie, which is decidedly R-rated. The final few seconds alone, a quick montage of several of the “fatalities” — the infamously graphic finishing blows from the game series — seem to merit the rating.


(ALMOST) EVERY CLASSIC MORTAL KOMBAT CHARACTER IS IN IT

Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat (1995)

(Photo by ©New Line Cinema)

So far, there’s really only one character from the original Mortal Kombat arcade game who hasn’t been confirmed to appear in the 2021 movie: Johnny Cage, the Hollywood action star-turned-champion who was the ostensible protagonist of the 1995 movie. The new Mortal Kombat stars Lewis Tan, best known for Into the Badlands and Wu Assassins, who plays a brand-new character (as far as we know) named Cole Young, an MMA fighter with a birthmark shaped just like the Mortal Kombat logo, meaning he’s destined to fight in the iconic tournament.

However, there are plenty of other familiar faces. Joining Cole in his fight to defend Earth are Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), a special forces officer; Kano (Josh Lawson), an Aussie mercenary with a laser eye who is typically more villainous than he appears to be here; Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), a Shaolin monk with fire powers; Kung Lao (Max Huang), a Chinese warrior with a razor-sharp hat; and Jax Briggs (Mehcad Brooks), another special forces officer who has robotic arms following a run-in with a certain chilly ninja. Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), a god of thunder and protector of Earthrealm, will serve as a mentor for the forces of good.

Goro in Mortal Kombat

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

On the other side stands Shang Tsung (Chin Han), the right-hand-man of Shao Khan, the ruler of the mystical realm of Outworld. Mileena (Sisi Stringer), a fighter with a gnarly mouth, also appears in the trailer, as does Goro, the four-armed champion.

And, of course, Sub-Zero and Scorpion, arguably the two most famous Mortal Kombat characters, appear as well. The former, a deadly warrior with the ability to control ice, is played by Joe Taslim, who has proven his martial arts bona fides in movies like The Raid and The Night Comes for Us, and he appears to the film’s major villain. The latter, an undead ninja whose name in life was Hanzo Hasashi, is played by veteran actor Hiroyuki Sanada, who is probably best known outside of Japan for his roles in The Last SamuraiWestworld, and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.


THE SYNOPSIS PROMISES PLENTY OF ACTION

Mortal Kombat

(Photo by New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Mortal Kombat games do have a fairly complex mythology — there’s a plot reason why all those fighters need to throw hands. Essentially, Shang Tsung, the emperor of another realm called Outworld, has his sights set on conquering our world, otherwise known as Earthrealm. However, in order to get permission to start the conquest, Outworld’s champions need to defeat Earthrealm’s champions in a contest known as Mortal Kombat. The movie appears to be following the same basic set-up, though the specifics may vary, of course.

Here’s the official synopsis, per Warner Bros.:

“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?”

That sounds like what most viewers would expect, more or less, so it’ll be the action that determines whether or not the film will win fans over. Judging from the trailer, it looks like Mortal Kombat has that part nailed.


IT’S THE THIRD MORTAL KOMBAT MOVIE (AND POTENTIALLY THE SECOND GOOD ONE)

Mortal Kombat Annihilation

(Photo by ©New Line Cinema courtesy Everett Collection)

Movies based on video games are typically thought of as uniformly terrible, though that’s starting to change. Last year’s Sonic the Hedgehog movie was, perhaps surprisingly, quite well-received, as was Detective Pikachu the year before. The 1995 big screen adaptation of Mortal Kombat is generally considered to be one of the better video game movies ever made, and it has become something of a cult classic (its defenders make a much better case for it than its Tomatometer score might suggest). The 1997 sequel Mortal Kombat Anhiliation, however, is universally considered to be pretty awful. So, if 2021’s Mortal Kombat is any good, it stands a chance of winning the title of best Mortal Kombat movie.

Expect a violent fatality if it does.


Mortal Kombat will premiere in theaters and on HBO Max on April 16, 2021.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

international comic book movies Amazon Prime Video women mission: impossible doctor who award winner suspense deadpool streaming movies NBA streaming breaking bad Pride Month BET Nominations rt archives docudrama child's play strong female leads comics A24 documentaries SXSW Peacock true crime Marvel hidden camera Women's History Month LGBT dogs CNN james bond royal family San Diego Comic-Con hist Disney Channel FX on Hulu Oscars screenings Disney golden globes TLC scorecard films TCA 2017 Comedy Country Pirates Shudder unscripted Comics on TV Fantasy twilight Hulu critic resources Vudu WGN Fox News Pop scene in color YouTube Red crossover laika Family Bravo Animation worst movies series justice league foreign parents king kong a nightmare on elm street The CW Election Acorn TV sitcom Masterpiece remakes GoT Discovery Channel children's TV Pet Sematary talk show YA sag awards canceled TV shows The Arrangement Paramount Plus Disney Plus Infographic kong marvel comics Calendar Ovation miniseries Ghostbusters trailers 2020 20th Century Fox Horror Tokyo Olympics Chernobyl black japan directors archives Rocky witnail ViacomCBS See It Skip It renewed TV shows comic book movie thriller halloween Spike kaiju spy thriller 90s sequels 007 sports CMT TruTV rotten movies we love MTV Endgame Rom-Com crime PlayStation Wes Anderson Opinion mutant aapi Apple Holiday Turner Classic Movies jurassic park video on demand Drama action-comedy transformers 2021 Lifetime Christmas movies french MSNBC Lionsgate christmas movies Disney+ Disney Plus IFC cars Hear Us Out 45 new york razzies political drama disaster Amazon Studios zombie green book Valentine's Day basketball popular Film Best and Worst USA Starz dramedy debate BBC America CBS Esquire First Look 93rd Oscars 99% Mary Poppins Returns travel movies Classic Film historical drama singing competition heist movie Food Network Netflix 21st Century Fox cops nature Arrowverse Black Mirror worst dark blockbuster cancelled TV shows ID DGA werewolf what to watch aliens spanish language Apple TV+ Shondaland hispanic heritage month psycho Film Festival biopic festival rotten joker teaser book casting indie comic BBC One USA Network spinoff X-Men australia Pacific Islander Captain marvel high school concert slashers batman satire jamie lee curtis comic books Pixar 2019 TIFF Sneak Peek Comedy Central Baby Yoda Star Wars Comic Book Marvel Television BET Awards biography dceu documentary Awards TCA Winter 2020 ABC Image Comics Thanksgiving Avengers Warner Bros. reboot Syfy PaleyFest TCM harry potter revenge ABC Signature cartoon Amazon Prime ITV universal monsters boxing nfl composers monster movies TV One cats E! kids book adaptation classics YouTube Premiere Dates VICE Dark Horse Comics Lifetime pirates of the caribbean Trophy Talk Tumblr best Mystery legend Netflix Christmas movies Apple TV Plus science fiction BBC romance Binge Guide FXX telelvision psychological thriller HBO Go new star wars movies Rocketman Television Academy police drama critics Lucasfilm Elton John rt labs critics edition video Summer SundanceTV Winter TV cancelled TV series Travel Channel Toys cinemax 73rd Emmy Awards Paramount comiccon zero dark thirty Kids & Family Emmy Nominations know your critic DirecTV Alien blaxploitation based on movie toy story live action Grammys anthology Turner Adult Swim Super Bowl toronto Sundance TV Western dragons godzilla Nat Geo E3 Columbia Pictures war Interview supernatural The Witch 71st Emmy Awards SDCC cancelled south america Creative Arts Emmys Showtime Academy Awards Video Games spanish stoner romantic comedy Biopics Hallmark superhero DC streaming service Song of Ice and Fire movie President quibi ABC Family Comic-Con@Home 2021 scary movies RT21 Tarantino posters Year in Review New York Comic Con TV Land Countdown Broadway slasher Action canceled young adult American Society of Cinematographers Mudbound NBC Cartoon Network game of thrones YouTube Premium History Schedule GIFs DC Comics FX IFC Films 2017 adenture Epix ghosts The Walt Disney Company HBO Max Cosplay 72 Emmy Awards asian-american Superheroe Musical Amazon docuseries Brie Larson Pop TV richard e. Grant cults OWN screen actors guild Holidays marvel cinematic universe Cannes finale theme song target diversity animated Freeform Sony Pictures NYCC anime Mindy Kaling boxoffice Winners chucky Anna Paquin Nickelodeon independent discovery Fox Searchlight Disney streaming service Logo spain dc natural history Music mockumentary Reality Competition king arthur El Rey Fall TV ESPN HBO TV BAFTA elevated horror OneApp Universal venice comedies AMC Tubi halloween tv obituary nbcuniversal Tomatazos The Academy space PBS Stephen King Certified Fresh ratings festivals Teen adventure versus Sundance golden globe awards Set visit A&E Star Trek Awards Tour die hard Rock The Walking Dead stand-up comedy facebook The Purge First Reviews CBS All Access Black History Month social media TV renewals TCA Musicals cooking Quiz period drama Marathons television DC Universe Hallmark Christmas movies free movies Television Critics Association Red Carpet medical drama tv talk Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Reality wonder woman CW Seed Britbox spider-man criterion mcc GLAAD fast and furious franchise Crackle Podcast VH1 National Geographic MCU Funimation Paramount Network game show TNT cancelled television news Trailer Emmys Polls and Games adaptation LGBTQ sequel 2016 TV movies Spectrum Originals Marvel Studios WarnerMedia superman Spring TV Photos politics Walt Disney Pictures stop motion saw blockbusters 2015 new zealand FOX vampires Legendary binge feel good 4/20 Ellie Kemper Box Office name the review APB 2018 fresh 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards reviews technology lord of the rings Superheroes Mary poppins Christmas Mary Tyler Moore Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt crime thriller Watching Series Crunchyroll latino all-time dexter japanese Martial Arts Sci-Fi hollywood prank RT History robots emmy awards TCA Awards Heroines Exclusive Video Character Guide Writers Guild of America Sundance Now crime drama italian indiana jones hispanic 24 frames olympics TBS football rom-coms VOD zombies serial killer Extras gangster rt labs Trivia 1990s