Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Best And Worst Scenes In Mortal Kombat

The "Mortal Kombat" series is known for infamously violent fatalities and a deep roster of badass fighters from realms across the multiverse. Translating these fighting games into movies, as it turns out, is no easy task. 

The original 1995 movie may have been a maligned box office hit, but it does have a fondly-remembered cast. Which led to much cautious anticipation for the latest attempt, with the same-named but much improved "Mortal Kombat" now on HBO Max, a full-on blockbuster with both peaks and valleys.

Although most agree that it is better than the 1995 "Kombat," the new entry in the film series is getting a mixed reception, which makes sense. It is a movie that reaches great heights, featuring compelling action choreography and tons of references for fans of the game series to pick up on. It also sports some pretty bad CGI, and is filled to the brim with rushed exposition. There's a lot to unpack here, so let's get started at naming the five best and five worst scenes in 2021's "Mortal Kombat."

Spoilers for the new Mortal Kombat movie are ahead. You have been warned.

Best - Sub-Zero vs. Scorpion: Round one

"Mortal Kombat" puts its strong foot forward in an opening that takes place centuries before the rest of the movie. Bi-han, the original Sub-Zero, comes to Hanzo Hasashi's (Scorpion) family home to assassinate him and his family. After seeing his son and wife killed and frozen by the cryomancer Sub-Zero, Hanzo goes on a rampage, tearing through a legion of assassins with his iconic Kunai rope. This leads to an epic showdown between the two.

The actors playing the iconic "Mortal Kombat" duo — Joe Taslim and Hiroyuki Sanada — are veterans of martial arts and samurai cinema. The bouts between them are by far the highlight of the 2021 "MK" adaptation, and the first one gets the movie off to a rousing start. Sub-Zero walks away the victor, leaving Hanzo dead as the screen fades to black and the title card fades in. It's time for "Mortal Kombat."

Worst - Earthrealm crew fights the invisible lizard

A strength of the latest "Mortal Kombat" is the direction and choreography of its hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately, this means the scenes where the actors have to fight against a CGI opponent stick out like a sore thumb amid the visually superior physical action. The worst of these is a warehouse fight where Cole (Lewis Tan), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), and Kano (Josh Lawson) face off against an invisible human-sized reptile.

Seeing the actors fight against air definitely breaks the believability of the scene. When their adversary is invisible, the effects aren't convincing enough to give you a solid sense of its scope or location; when we do get a glimpse, it still doesn't seem like much more than a generic beast.  

Once Kano punctures the lizard with a flare, he becomes a whole lot easier to see and well... you know what's coming next. Still, even when the cast isn't punching at nothing, the scene doesn't manage to excite. The special effects on the lizard don't look especially stylish or cool. The end result is the most forgettable fight of the entire movie. 

Best - Sub Zero dismembers Jax with ice

Eagle-eyed "Mortal Kombat" fans undoubtedly noticed from trailers that early on in the movie Jax (Mechad Brooks) is lacking his defining characteristic — his two cyborg arms. It doesn't take long for the movie to show the traumatic incident that caused Jax's epic transformation. The early scenes where Jax has both his human arms can be interpreted as a nod to "Mortal Kombat II," the game where the character made his debut.

In the 2021 "Mortal Kombat ” Sub-Zero is the one responsible for Jax's dismemberment. After hunting down Jax, Cole and his family, Sub-Zero lures Jax into battle. The two have an intense combat session that leads to a pretty gnarly time for Jax when Sub-Zero freezes his arms until they explode into a bloody mess of ice and viscera.

Worst - Liu Kang gives way too much exposition in the middle of the movie

In the middle of the film, Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) finds Cole, Sonya, and Jax in the desert and the movie decides the real plot should start now. The legendary protector takes the crew to Raiden's temple where the Earthrealm protectors (and the audience) have the entire backstory of "Mortal Kombat" and Outworld explained to them. Liu Kang tells the protectors about the tournament and that's kind of his role for the entire movie.  It is a major letdown to have the main hero of a majority of the "Mortal Kombat" series relegated to doling out exposition and training the characters that actually get to fight.

In less than 10 minutes of its total runtime, "Mortal Kombat" introduces three major characters (Raiden, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao) and sets up the conflict for the rest of the adventure. It is a rushed scene full of exposition that reiterates information that most "MK" fans already know. Despite being squeezed between two action sequences, this scene still manages to kill the momentum in the middle of the movie.

Best - Cole discovers his arcana and defeats Goro

Cole unlocks his true potential when the four-armed Goro is about to kill his family. With Alison (Laura Brent) and Emily (Matilda Kimber) in harm's way, Cole taps into his arcana, his body turning into an energy-absorbing armor not unlike the "Black Panther" costume.

As per earlier, the CGI fights in "Mortal Kombat" aren't the best, but the final moments of this sequence more than make up for that. When tapping into his power, Cole materializes his weapons — a pair of tonfa, one outfitted with a blade. He proceeds to absolutely go to town on Goro.

The tonfa blades are awfully similar to the Kobu Jutsu, the weapons wielded by Tanya in "Mortal Kombat: Deception" and "Armageddon." Only one of Cole's weapons is bladed, but it definitely feels like Cole's weapons are an homage to Tanya. The Edenian villain made her most recent in-game appearance in 2015's "Mortal Kombat X."

Worst - Kano, on the other hand, discovers his arcana by being a jerk

Kano is the ultimate loudmouth and this scene is him at his swear-iest, angriest, and most overtly racist. Kano exudes machismo and spews some serious anti-Asian sentiments as Kung Lao and Liu Kang egg him on to try and see his true power. It's only then that we see Kano's laser eye in action for the first time in the movie.

The scene goes way overboard on how offensive Kano acts to the point where it begins to give away the twist that happens later on. There's no way you are supposed to root for Kano after this. Seriously, after asking "Kung Pao" to pass him an egg roll he says, "I'm going to take that stupid sombrero you're wearing and shove it so far up your ass you'll start speaking Spanish." If it wasn't obvious Kano was destined to betray the protectors to Shang Tsung, this scene makes it painfully clear that he is not a good guy.

Best - Sonya fatalities Kano and gets her dragon mark

Fighting games are known for creating some of the biggest character rivalries in gaming. Scorpion vs Sub-Zero is the first to come to mind for "Mortal Kombat," but it's not the only defining duo to grace the decades-running franchise. Sonya and Kano go way back as storied rivals.  Additionally, fans of the original 1995 movie are sure to be reminded of the pair's classic face-off.

The new movie leans hard into Kano being a foul-mouthed scumbag. He is known for being cunning and untrustworthy. The latest portrayal of Kano is no different, as he betrays Sonya and the heroes of Earthrealm by removing the thunder shield protecting Raiden's temple. This relationship makes the final showdown between the two supremely satisfying. When Sonya finally unleashes her fatality on Kano she earns her dragon mark and finally becomes the protector of Earthrealm she was destined to be.

Worst - Sonya gives Jax a motivational speech

Not long after the protectors make it to Raiden's temple, Sonya discovers Jax is alive and being cybernetically enhanced. As he recovers, Jax struggles with getting accustomed to his new body. Thankfully Sonya is there to give a motivational speech that works wonders for Jax but leaves the audience a bit cold. The attempt to develop this crucial "Mortal Kombat" relationship comes a bit too little too late.

According to Jax actor Mechad Brooks, this scene is meant to demonstrate "the love and respect that Jax and Sonya have for each other." While Sonya and Jax are indeed partners and have a close friendship in the games and comics lore, the connection doesn't come across as well in the newest movie. Sonya's words of motivation clue into the duo's military background together, but the monologue doesn't land on an emotional level and falls flat as the movie barrels forward.

Best - Get over here! Scorpion comes back for revenge

In the biggest twist of the whole movie, Cole's ancestor warps back from the depths of the Neatherrealm to finally defeat Sub-Zero once and for all. That's right, Scorpion is back on the menu. Right before Bi-han is about to deal a death blow to Cole, Hanzo's Kunai lodges its way into his back before the ancient hero lets loose his iconic battle cry. It wouldn't be a "Mortal Kombat" movie without at least one "get over here," now would it?

It is once again worth mentioning how fantastic the action and choreography is in the scenes featuring these two martial arts film stars. The climactic action sequence fully delivers on being one of the best in the movie, featuring weapons, fists, and magic powers in equal measure. Of course, it wouldn't be a father-son bonding moment without Cole joining in to help his ancestor take down the icy villain. 

Hanzo fully makes the transition to Scorpion and finishes Sub-Zero with the seminal fire breath fatality "Mortal Kombat" fans remember from way back in the day at the arcades.

Worst - The anti-climatic Shang Tsung and Raiden face-off

It is hard to top the climactic battle between Scorpion and Sub-Zero, but "Mortal Kombat" wraps up so quickly and abruptly it's hard not to feel like you fell asleep or missed something. Of the final scenes, the one that feels most rushed is the confrontation between the leaders of each realm: thunder god Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) versus the evil Shang Tsung (Chin Han). It ends up being less of a confrontation and more of a short conversation.

After it becomes clear that Raiden and the forces of Earthrealm have defeated their Outworld foes, Shang Tsung teleports into the scene to tell the heroes the fight is not over yet. He swears he will get his revenge and then it looks like Raiden is preparing to battle in one last epic fight of the movie. But that is ... not what happens. 

Instead, Raiden uses a lightning blast to send Shang Tsung back to Outworld, buying time to gather more allies for what we can only hope will be "Mortal Kombat 2."