The Mortal Kombat Movie: 7 Quick Things We Know About The 2021 Film

Mortal Kombat logo

Say it with me, people. Mortal Kombat! When word dropped last year that we would be getting a whole slew of movies coming to HBO Max in 2021, my mouth dropped when I saw that Mortal Kombat was going to be one of them. As an OG Mortal Kombat fan from the arcade and Genesis era (A, B, A, C, A, B, B!), I can tell you with certainty that I’m super excited for this latest theatrical version of the popular fighting franchise. I mean, come on now. It can’t be any worse than Mortal Kombat Annihilation. The question is though, can it be as good (or even better than?) the first Mortal Kombat movie?

Good question! I really don’t have an answer for that right now. But I do have 7 answers to 7 possible questions that you might have for the 2021 Mortal Kombat movie. Oh, and if you’re reading this article, then I’m going to assume that you’re a Mortal Kombat fanatic like myself. So, keep on the look-out for any deep cut (kut) Mortal Kombat references throughout. Toasty!

Character selection

Mortal Kombat Is Set To Release in April

Mortal Kombat's release date is April 16, 2021 to be specific, both theatrically and on HBO Max for its 30-day window. It was originally slated to come out on March 5th of this year, but was since moved back to April. The movie was possibly shifted a month so that it didn’t butt heads with Godzilla vs. Kong, which is set to come out on March 26th of this year.

But you know what? I’m kind of disappointed that the new Mortal Kombat is coming out on April 16th, and it has nothing to do with the month and everything to do with the day. April 16th lands on a Friday. And while I know most movies come out on Fridays, and that Mortal Kombat will also have a theatrical release just like Wonder Woman 1984. Couldn't this movie come out on a Monday instead? You know, like, for Mortal Monday? It was a thing. Back in the 90s. I swear it was! True fans know what I’m talking about.

Mortal Kombat Annihilation

Mortal Kombat Will Be A Reboot Rather Than A Continuation of The Previous Films

I know diehard fans wish this movie was a sequel to Mortal Kombat Annihilation because they want to know what ever happened to dragon Liu Kang and hydra Shao Khan. But alas, the new Mortal Kombat movie will be a reboot and not connected to any of the other Mortal Kombat movies.

I mean, I guess this is a good thing. Mortal Kombat Annihilation only covered up to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and the roster and storyline has expanded considerably since then. But I don’t know. Even though I’m obviously joking since Mortal Kombat Annihilation is the equivalent of Reptile spitting acid in your eyes, a part of me kind of does wish that there was some kind of continuity with the original Mortal Kombat movies. Kind of like how the Star Trek reboots are connected to the original Star Trek series. But oh, well. You can’t set your heart on too many things. Kano might rip it out.


Mortal Kombat Will Be The Third Theatrical Release For The Series, But The Fifth Movie Overall

As already mentioned, there have already been two theatrical Mortal Kombat movies. The so-bad-it’s-good 1995 movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Highlander’s Christopher Lambert. And the so-bad-it’s-just-bad sequel Mortal Kombat Annihilation, where Johnny Cage is killed off in like the first five minutes. So, 2021’s Mortal Kombat will be the 3rd theatrical release.

But there have also been two other animated movies that should be mentioned. There was Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins, which came out in 1995 and was a prequel to the first movie—and sucked. And then, there’s the 2020 Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, which is awesome and undoubtedly the best Mortal Kombat movie to ever come out. Will the 2021 version be even better? Only Kronika’s time will tell.

Liu Kang on the left, Kung Lao on the right

James Wan Is Producing Mortal Kombat, And A New Filmmaker Is Directing

I know a lot of people probably got excited when they saw James Wan’s name attached to this project, but he is acting as a producer and not as a director. Instead, Simon McQuoid will be making his feature length directorial debut with Mortal Kombat.

Not much is really known about Simon McQuoid, but my fingers are crossed that he’ll knock it out the park with this movie. Again, it can’t be any worse than Mortal Kombat Annihilation. So, we can only go up from here.


Mortal Kombat Will Have A Hard-R Rating And Feature Graphic Fatalities

The two theatrical Mortal Kombat movies that came out in the 90s were rated PG-13. And while this was cool since it meant that I could actually see them without having to sneak into a Rated-R movie, it was also kind of silly that a game that almost single-handedly helped create the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) for its violence would also be suitable for 13-year-old kids.

But not so with the new Mortal Kombat. This version is set to be grisly and gross, just like the video games it’s based off of. In fact, Lewis Tan, who plays the film’s protagonist (more on him in a few) had this to say to about the violence and “game accurate” fatalities in the movie:

Let me just say this, there were some days on set that I felt sick. I'm not kidding. They did not... They did not hold back.

And I can tell you this. I grew with Mortal Kombat. I saw Sub-Zero rip a man’s spine right out of his back. I saw Kung Lao slice a dude in half with his hat. But those are nothing (babalities, even!) compared to the fatalities of today where Johnny Cage will literally rip off somebody’s torso and then hold it up like a ventriloquist dummy. Or like Noob Saibot, who will cut a person apart in the shape of the letter X. The series is gorier than ever before, and the movie should reflect that as well!

Lewis Tan

Liu Kang, played by Robin Shou, was the go-to main protagonist for the first two Mortal Kombat movies, and why not? Even though either Scorpion or Sub-Zero were undoubtedly the faces of the series at the time, it would have probably been hard to build a whole storyline around those 2 characters back then. So, Liu Kang it was.

But the new movie isn’t taking that approach. Instead, Deadpool 2 actor, Lewis Tan, will be playing Cole Young, who’s a mixed-martial artist who somehow gets mixed-up in the inter-dimensional martial arts tournament. He has a hidden history he doesn’t know about and apparently stumbles into the competition once Shang Tsung sends Sub-Zero out to assassinate him. So, it’s really different from previous stories, which is exciting.


Multiple Characters Throughout Multiple Titles In The Video Game Series Will Play A Major Role In The Story

That said, it wouldn’t be Mortal Kombat without the fan favorites. As of right now, the ones who are definitely confirmed are Sonya Blade, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Raiden, Kano, Liu Kang, Jax, Shang Tsung, Mileena, Kung Lao, Nitara (Interesting) and Kabal (Yes!).

Now, if you’re looking at that list of characters, you’re probably wondering, wait, where’s Johnny Cage? Where’s Shinnok? No love for Ermac? I can’t even get me some Bo Rai Cho in this movie? Well, here’s the thing. While I would love to see a wide assortment of the characters we’ve grown to love over these past few years (like, come on now. No Erron Black?), I also don’t want to see this movie spin out of control like Mortal Kombat Annihilation, which had pretty much every Mortal Kombat character (even Rain!) under the sun, but like, sucked. Hopefully, story will trump fan service in this new movie.

So, those are some things you might not have known about the new Mortal Kombat movie. Honestly, I’m both really excited and also really nervous at the same time for this film. Video game movies are usually pretty terrible with some good ones sprinkled in here and there. But we have a real chance of finally getting a legitimately good live-action Mortal Kombat movie with this new film. And with more and more studios trying their hand at bringing popular franchises like Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid to the big screen, here’s hoping that we can finally get on track to making a string of good video game movies that are actually worth watching. So, test your might, Hollywood, and don’t mess this one up!

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Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.