On August 18th, 1995, New Line Cinema released the first film adaptation of the popular fighting game series Mortal Kombat. Twenty years later, the game series is still going strong (as evidenced by its most recent release), and Warner Bros. Pictures is currently developing a new cinematic adaptation to bring the likes of Raiden, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero to life on the big screen.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the first Mortal Kombat film, though, is how surprisingly well it holds up.
Now, don’t misunderstand: Mortal Kombat is far from a cinematic masterpiece, but it also firmly stands apart as one of the only generally decent attempts to adapt a video game into a film, well…ever. Coming on the heels of such games-based movie gems like 1993’s Super Mario Bros. starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, as well as the pretty awful Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat takes the somewhat limited premise of the first game in the series and spins it into a perfectly watchable and enjoyable story dealing with a martial arts tournament that will decide the fate of the entire planet, caught in the middle of a war that spans different realms.
Today at THR, a story detailing the somewhat amazing story of the film from concept to creation and release tells readers how Mortal Kombat was made, with director Paul W.S. Anderson (of the current Resident Evil film series) at the helm. That piece directly mentions the fact that Mortal Kombat broke something of a “video game curse” in regards to film adaptations, as it was embraced by the fans and is still reasonably well-regarded today.
Looking at the state of video game movies over the past 20 years since the release of Mortal Kombat, the vast majority of them haven’t been so lucky. Not only is this film’s direct sequel considered one of the worst movies of all-time, but some of the worst reviewed movies of the modern age are derived from video games. Films like House of the Dead, Bloodrayne, Max Payne, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, and Need for Speed have all been trashed by critics and fans alike, but hopefully upcoming releases like Hitman: Agent 47 and Assassin’s Creed will be able to break the curse once again.
Still, if you’ve never seen Mortal Kombat, this would be a fun reason to perhaps check it out for the first time. You might wince a few times, but chances are you’ll have a good time.
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