Mortal Kombat ★★★

MORTAL KOMBAT.

Man this is a goofy movie, even by 90s action standards. The plot is baffling, the characters ridiculous and the dialogue laughable. You know what, I had fun though. There's a lot of momentum and the movie never drags. Rather than lay the exposition on thick, Paul W.S. Anderson flies from scene to scene with gusto.

There's fights, they're important and they apparently decided the fate of the world. There's rules that matter until they don't. I was following it largely until the third act which goes out the window. Which is fine, because the insanity ramps up in a truly delightful way.

This movie is often derided for being PG-13, but Anderson and his FX are pushing the limits hard. I thought the 90s CG kills were highly entertaining. Especially the ones from Sub-Zero. The fighting is a little rote and over-edited, but not necessarily dull. Anderson is a serviceable action director. He has visual flair, but none of seems to have much logic or reason to it. He does wild camera angles just because he can.

If anything sticks out it's a decent lead in Robin Shou, who's funny but carries the mild drama well enough. Linden Ashby is fine as Johnny Cage. I'm kind of surprised neither of them went further. Christopher Lambert is laughable as Raiden. Bridgette Wilson-Sampas and Talisa Soto are thoroughly dull as Sonya Blade and Kitana. Cary-Hiroyuka Tagawa is the highlight as the sneering Shang-Tsung.

Future James Wan collaborator John R. Leonetti's photography is great, and Johnathan A. Carlson's Production Design is honestly superb. The varied and interesting environments give the movie a ton of life. It's kind of wonderful to see a more modern movie with so much modeling and matte painting. It doesn't look real, but it does look fantastical in a unique way.

This isn't a quality film, but I won't deny that I did have fun.

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