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Paul W.S. Anderson
Christopher Lambert, Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto, Trevor Goddard, Chris Casamassa, François Petit
Writing Credits:
Ed Boon (video games), John Tobias (video games), Kevin Droney

Nothing In This World Has Prepared You For This.

Lord Rayden (Christopher Lambert) has rescued them, but he cannot fight for them. They – a martial artist, an action film star, a soldier – are the chosen three. And while the world’s fate rests on their shoulders, the rest of us can enjoy the thrills as they compete to save us all in the body-slamming, mystical-tinged, full-tilt spectacle of creatures and conflict that is Mortal Kombat. Paul Anderson directs this astonishing and trend-setting experience that showed how to turn a smash-hit video game into a movie smash. Cheer these intrepid three Kombatants – they’re fighting for you!

Box Office:
$18 million.
Opening Weekend
$23.283 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$70.445 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Stereo 2.0
Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 4/19/2011

• “Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins” Animated Adventure
• Trailers


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Mortal Kombat [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 6, 2011)

1995’s Mortal Kombat wasn’t the first big screen film based on a video game; if we can trust Wikipedia, it was the fourth one to hit. However, it enjoys one distinction: it was the first video game flick that could be called a legit hit. Its three predecessors – 1993’s Super Mario Bros. and 1994’s Double Dragon and Street Fighter - all tanked, but Kombat showed that the genre could succeed. While its $70 million US take didn’t set the charts on fire, it was still pretty good, especially given the financial miseries experienced by the earlier flicks.

I guess the stink of those first three movies crippled the burgeoning flood of video game movies; only two more – including Kombat’s 1997 sequel – would appear before 2001’s Tomb Raider helped revive the genre. To a degree, at least; we’ve gotten plenty of video game flicks since 2001, but not a single one became a true smash hit.

Kombat introduces the notion of an ancient tournament that will determine the fate of the Earth. Every generation or so, warriors from Earth fight those from the Outworld; if the latter wins 10 straight, they get to come and take over the former.

Right now, the tally stands at 9-0 Outworld, so the next tournament takes on greater importance. Earth protector Lord Rayden (Christopher Lambert) lures three new Earth warriors to the battle. We get revenge-minded Liu Kang (Robin Shou), law enforcement officer Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson) and movie star Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby). We follow them through the tournament and their attempts to save the Earth from domination.

I know I saw Kombat theatrically back in 1995, but I must admit I bear no memory of the experience whatsoever. Now that I’ve seen it again 16 years later, I know why: the film offers an utterly forgettable action adventure.

Despite whatever distinctiveness the video game boasts, the movie lacks any form of personality. Part of the problem stems from the screenwriter’s apparent refusal to develop the characters beyond their sketchy roots. In the game, the participants exist as basic archetypes, and that’s where they remain in the movie. Any attempts to flesh out the various roles remains rudimentary and borderline useless. They started as cartoons and that’s where they stay.

This means Kombat relies on its fight scenes to thrive, but alas, it fails to do so. Though the movie tosses out quite a few one-on-one set pieces, few of them stick. They tend to be bland and uninventive; beyond allusions to the video game, they don’t deliver much to make them unique.

Speaking of the video game, I must admit I don’t see the point in a “PG-13” version of Kombat. Much of the game’s notoriety and success – and controversy - related to its over the top violence. The movie neuters it and loses virtually all of the game’s bloody craziness.

I understand that the producers wanted something “PG-13” to reach the biggest audience, but I think the decision hampers the cinematic product. Not that I believe Kombat would’ve been a great film under any circumstances, but at least an “R”-rated version would better embrace its video game origins. When made into “PG-13” product, Kombat loses much of what made it famous.

The film also comes with some awful effects, though I don’t think they’re as atrocious as others believe. I read one review that opined if Jurassic Park could pull off great CG in 1993, Kombat could’ve done the same in 1995.

Sure, it could’ve – if it’d had a budget even remotely as high. Kombat cost less than one-third the price of Park, and it was able to utilize the best talent in the industry. Kombat lacked the same advantage, and that left it with visual effects that might’ve been decent 16 years ago but that look awful now.

Actually, I don’t even know if the effects seemed decent in 1995 – maybe, but it’s tough to imagine. The producers should’ve stayed with more traditional effects, as the choice to use primitive CG hurts the final product.

Or the ugly effects would hamper the film if we were even vaguely invested in the story and characters. But we’re not, as Mortal Kombat never threatens to engage the viewer. I can take pleasure from mindless action flicks, but this one’s too slow and dull to entertain.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Mortal Kombat appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This wasn’t a poor transfer, but it seemed inconsistent.

Sharpness became one of the erratic elements. Some shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation; though these were never razor-sharp, they displayed good definition. However, more than a few others seemed a bit soft and mushy, a factor exacerbated by occasional light edge haloes. Overall sharpness was fine but not on a consistent basis.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering emerged, and print flaws were modest. Some appropriate grain materialized, and I noticed a few small specks. That was it, however, as most of the movie offered a clean presentation.

Kombat usually favored a natural palette, though notable exceptions occurred; the film occasionally featured scenes with heavy colored lighting, such as the dominant green when we first met Liu Kang. The Blu-ray depicted all the hues well; faces could be a bit pink at times, but other tones were clear and positive.

Blacks also seemed perfectly adequate; dark tones didn’t dazzle, but they provided solid depth. Shadows were a different matter. Though some low-light shots offered decent clarity, others appeared somewhat dense and thick. I suspect some of this attempted to hide the ugly visual effects, but that didn’t always make sense as an explanation; some shots were too dark for no apparent reason. Overall, this ended up as a watchable presentation but not a memorable one.

I felt about the same when I judged the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Given its era and genre, the soundscape seemed more limited than expected, though it still mustered fairly good involvement at times. Obviously, the flick’s many action scenes became the focal point, and these could open up the side and back speakers in a positive manner.

But they rarely did so in an impressive way. By 1995, robust multichannel mixes were common, so I expected more from this one. The track broadened the elements in a generally solid way, with decent use of the side and rear channels. However, it tended to seem a bit speaker-specific and didn’t always blend in a smooth way. The surrounds lacked as much material as I’d expect, and the track’s overall impact was good but not great.

Audio quality was acceptable. Speech seemed reasonably natural, and music featured positive enough punch; the score wasn’t quite as robust as I’d like, but it lacked any notable weaknesses. Effects also seemed fine; though they weren’t especially powerful, they showed good clarity and definition. Chalk this one up as a “B-“; it had enough pizzazz to be above average but not enough to stand out within its genre.

Don’t expect many extras here. In addition to trailers for the movie and the 2011 video game, we get Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins. This 39-minute, seven-second program offers an animated tie-in with the 1995 film. It delivers more extensive notes on the various characters and the nature of the Mortal Kombat tournament. It’s not particularly entertaining, and it mixes ugly cel animation with even uglier primitive CG work. Still, it’s probably helpful for viewers of the movie, as it helps explain a lot of plot/character elements.

Back in 1995, Mortal Kombat emerged as the first successful movie adaptation of a video game. Why? I have no idea, as I can’t find anything appealing about this dull, dumb action flick. The Blu-ray comes with erratic but decent picture and audio as well as minor supplements. Stick with the video game and skip this forgettable film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 5
0 3:
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