Robin Solsjö Höglund’s review published on Letterboxd:
This week we are finally getting the long-awaited Mortal Kombat reboot, this time with a glorious R-rating, so why not go back and watch all things MK - all live-action things at least? The two first movies and the two short seasons of Mortal Kombat Legacy.
Oh lordy lord. The 90's movies..
There are people who claim that these are genuinely good..
Look, if you were like 12 or 13 in 1995 and saw this in a movie theater, I kind of get it. Most amazing thing ever. 26 years later however, sheeeeesh. In my home growing up we always liked watching these, first as genuine entertainment, then as a little bit of a joke, and watching them again now they are just brimming with cheese. 90's cheese. 90's cheese set to 90's techno music.
The script is awful, the acting is terrible, there is no blood or gore, the whole thing is silly and simplistic and..well, in an odd way it does kind of capture the original three games - colorful characters fight a tournament over the fate of mankind. I laughed out loud many times tonight though, at things that were not intended to be funny, like Kano appearing before Sonya with a big smack ("MUUUAH!"), Kitana dragging her arm across Liu Kang's face with an exaggerated sound effect, or Liu Kang stomping on Reptile's remains and yelling YAAARUGHGGUGHAUGHGGHAHGHG for like ten seconds. And don't even get me started on the CGI. I know we had to do a lot of work to get to where we are, but 1995 CGI is just...oh lord almighty.
I think the only actor who is at times giving slightly more than cheese in a can is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung (and I don't mean when he's grinning and going "YOUR SOUL IS MIIIIINE"). I also have to admit that the music kind of slaps in its own silly sort of way (techno and metal), the fight choreographers did a good job and the production design isn't bad. That scene where Liu Kang stands around in a wide static shot and Sub-Zero slowly descends the stairs and strikes a pose right in front of him is genuinely well realized - simple, but still.
To put it simply, I think this was always made for 11-year olds. It was made that way in 1995 and it still appeals to the 11-year olds at heart today. If you think it is a genuinely good movie I think you need a head examination, but if you admit to enjoying it for how silly and stupid it is, I am totally down with that. I've liked it for that reason for over 25 years, but there are video game movies that are far better in my opinion (Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie or the Tomb Raider flicks come to mind). Still, it is pretty legendary, if nothing else for that theme song. FIGHT!