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The Curator of Schlock #35 by Jeffrey Shuster

Mortal Kombat = Mortal Komplicated!

Okay. Time to roll out the big guns (err, fists) with 1995’s Mortal Kombat from director Paul W. S. Anderson.

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Oh man. Where do I even begin? Mortal Kombat was the game back the mid 90s. I remember getting my copy of Mortal Kombat II for Super Nintendo at the Suncoast Video in the mall for $59.99. It came with three posters and a cassete tape with the Mortal Kombat theme song on it. Cool beans! But then the Mortal Kombat movie came a few months later and, well, it was a movie. Or a two-hour music video. Ah, who cares? It’s Mortal Kombat!

What’s the plot? The evil sorcerer Shang Tsung is gathering the best martial artists from around the world so he can steal their souls and become all-powerful. He’s joined by Kano, a criminal cyborg, a pair of Chinese assassins named Scorpion and Sub-Zero, and Goro, a big, monster dude with four arms.

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The good guys are led by Raiden, the Chinese god of thunder (obviously, Christopher Lambert).

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Liu Kang, a Shaolin monk, Johnny Cage, a hotshot Hollywood action star, and Sonya Blade, a Special Forces officer are the film’s protagonists.

This makes things confusing since there are three of them and I don’t know which one I’m supposed to root for. Sonya kills Kano by breaking his neck (they don’t build cyborgs like they used to). Johnny Cage takes out Scorpion (who is really scary since he’s like ghost/undead guy who can breathe fire out of his mouth). Liu Kang fights Sub-Zero and puts him on ice (Ha!). Goro turns out to be rather intimidating since he can grab contestants with his lower arms and pound them with the other two. Johnny Cage avoids this fate by punching Goro in the sweet spot and sending him plummeting over a cliff.

I guess by this point Shang Tsung is getting impatient so he kidnaps Sonja Blade and flees to Outworld, another planet or another dimension or something to that effect.

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It’s the place where all the scary bad guys come from. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Shang Tsung isn’t from Earth. He serves the Emperor of Outworld, a mysterious figure who wants to conquer Earth for nefarious purposes. The emperor also has sexy daughter, Princess Kitana, who’s decided to aid Liu Kang in his quest to do something something. Aargh! I can’t keep track of any of this! Why do they have to make movies so complicated?

The highlight fight in the movie is Liu Kang vs. Reptile. There’s something to be said about a watching a guy get kicked through a brick wall, especially when he gets kicked in the face right after getting through the brick wall. It’s the little things life that something something.

 Ten Thing I Learned from Mortal Kombat

  1. Don’t trust shape-shifting sorcerers.
  2. When the shape shifting sorcerer turns into your dead brother right before your eyes, it’s not really your dead brother.
  3. Christopher Lambert is good in anything.
  4. You don’t get second chances in Mortal Kombat…unless you’re playing the video game.
  5. Bad guys love to mess with Shaolin monks. Just ask Kwai Chang Caine!
  6. Cyborgs with Australian accents are more intimidating than cyborgs with American accents.
  7. Techno music always accompanies kung fu battles.
  8. Don’t fight a monster dude with four arms. Just don’t do it.
  9. Don’t fight a guy who can freeze you to death with his bare hands.
  10. Don’t enter tournaments hosted by soul eating sorcerers.


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.