Beware of Spoilers!
Mortal Kombat 2021 opens in 17th century Japan as Lin Kuei assassins led by Bi-Han of Outworld (Joe Taslim) attack Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his family, with the motive of ending his bloodline as they are the original protectors of Earth-realm. Bi-Han kills Hanzo’s wife and son, and eventually Hanzo after a mouth-watering and well-choreographed duel.
Bi-Han, somehow, incompetently fails to detect Hanzo’s daughter who was hidden in a wooden basement. Raiden visits the site after Bi-Han had left, finds the child, and disappears with her, revealing later that he hid her somewhere she was apparently able to lead a normal life. Hanzo’s bloodline consequently lived on through her descendants.
However, although much of the backstory’s narrative is based on the proactiveness of Shang Tsung and Outworld in trying to win Mortal Kombats, as a result, moving to thwart a prophecy 400 years before it happens, why did it take them 400 years to find out Hanzo’s descendants were still alive? I mean, It’s not like they ever stopped hunting and killing Earthrealms’ champions.
Secondly, Cole, Sonya, and Kano meet Liu Kang and Liu takes them to Raiden’s temple where they find an injured Jax. Liu then tells them he brought Jax to the temple and that he’s been charged with gathering all of Earthrealm’s champions. It’s strange how he never tried to reach Cole, who is an original champion.
Sonya, Kano, and Cole are about to train to discover their arcana (inner power) but Liu and Lao tells Sonya she’s forbidden to enter the fight pit because she doesn’t possess the marking of the chosen. However, fast-forward to when it was time to fight, and a conscienceless Raiden sent Sonya to a mad and angry Kano who’s just gotten superman-grade laser eyes. Why, to get roasted like a chicken?
As with most video game characters brought to big screens, viewers and fans will always look out for those features in the characters that fascinate them. On that note, the choice to feature the Syzoth, Reptile as he is commonly referred to, in his animalistic rather than in his human costume, fell short of expectations. Reptile is such a fascinating character with a very rich heritage albeit being a loyal servant of Emperor Khan and Shang Tsung. He should never be dying at the hands of no-arcana earth fighters.
In the original MK movie (1995), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa played the role of Shang Tsung and rendered the character to perfection. His iconic scornful and manipulating look epitomised everything Tsung stood for in the games. However, MK 2021 failed to deliver on one of he most powerful characters and villains in the franchise. There was nothing mysterious, terrifying, or fascinating about this Shang Tsung, even when he was sucking the soul out of Kung Lao.
According to director, Simon McQuoid, Prince Goro was expensive to make, but all for what? Given the history of Goro as an original character and winner of several MK tournaments, how is he getting killed by an amateurish Cole who had just gotten his arcana? Sloppy.
If you didn’t know, Kang has been the franchise’s poster boy in most MK instalments, but this Kang asides his lines and looks, was underwhelming and seemed nothing like the Kang we’ve come to know from the games. Sadly, an impressive Kung Lao was sacrificed for Cole in another bad move to emphasise that Cole is the protagonist.
If Raiden had planned not to engage Shang Tsung and Bi-Han (now Sub-Zero) in Kombat after Jax had gotten his arcana, he shouldn’t have brought Cole back to the temple. He should have sent him the portal that leads straight to the void rather. That way, Tsung would not have had the opportunity to take Kung Lao’s soul. It’s lazy organisation of events from the movie makers.
After the opening fight between Bi-Han and Hanzo, every other fight was watered down until they faced off again as Scorpion and Sub-Zero. For the sake of scorpion’s honour and dignity, Cole should never have intervened in the fight. It made scorpion seem weak, even with his hell-given abilities and lust for rage and revenge. The animation feature, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge delivers a better depiction of the rivalry between Hanzo and Bi-Han and it is undebatable.
It’s a welcome idea to make Cole, a new character, the protagonist but, it should never come at the cost of unthoughtfully sacrificing original characters, especially before a tournament ensues. It’s understandable that the plan is to have a sequel and start a movie franchise henceforth, but, diehard fans of MK characters and their rich histories would surely be disappointed by underwhelming execution of the plot in this reboot.
The only thing that puts it on par with the first MK movie is the picture quality, but of course, we have better cameras and advanced technology now. MK 2021 was like an uncoordinated, disjointed opera, with many of the instruments going off-key.