Mortal Kombat

By Peter Debruge

It was the gore as much as the gameplay that made the original “Mortal Kombat” such a success at the arcade, and while the 1995 New Line movie broke the curse on video game adaptations — following such bombs as “Street Fighter” and “Super Mario Bros.” earlier that decade — the film version did so by turning the koncept into a slick but kitschy action spectacular. While heavily indebted to Hong Kong cinema, the fluke hit (which made a whopping $122 million) hasn’t aged well, considering how much “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” transformed Hollywood fight scenes.

Now, “Mortal Kombat” gets the R-rated reboot its fans feel the property deserves, which entails being as graphic as the game was when it comes time for the pugilists to eliminate their opponents, whether that means ripping out their hearts or buzz-sawing them in twain with a razor-sharp hat. Such ruthless finishing moves may be the selling point here, but it’s the more nuts-and-bolts backstory that matters if the studio hopes to build a fresh film franchise around the property.

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