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So, yeah. I saw the recent Mortal Kombat and, well… I’d still rather watch the 1995 movie. I know, I know. It’s super cheesy, and the special effects don’t hold up, but still. I’d rather re-watch that first Paul W.S. Anderson movie starring Christopher Lambert and Robin Shou than the 2021 reboot starring Joe Taslim and Lewis Tan, and I don’t know why.
Actually, I do know, but it took me awhile to realize why. Because while I do greatly enjoy the first movie, even I have to admit that it has its problems. Don’t get me wrong. I do think that there is a lot to appreciate with this new movie—most notably the extreme violence that the series is known for. But, here are five definite reasons why I would much rather re-watch the original movie than the reboot.
The Original Actually Has Johnny Cage in It
This may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. The original movie is so much better for having Johnny Cage in it, and his character was sorely missed in this reboot. Sorely. Yes, the screenwriter has talked about why Johnny Cage didn’t appear in this new movie, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I kept wanting him to be in it anyway. I also think he would have been great to have in the movie alongside Kano, since they could have had some great back and forth banter together if they did it right.
Played by Linden Ashby in the 1995 original, Johnny Cage may not have been the main character in that movie (that would be Robin Shou’s Liu Kang), but he still added to the comic relief by being that rich asshole who was totally out of his depth fighting hell spawns and Shokan warriors. Cole Young, on the other hand, just was not a good substitute for Johnny Cage, and his presence made Cage’s absence feel all the more prominent. Because, come on now, could you see Cole Young complaining about his $500 sunglasses being crushed? I didn’t think so.
It Follows The Games Much More Closely
I’ll be straight with you. While I’ve played every single mainline Mortal Kombat game, I haven’t really been keeping up with the storylines, which have just gone all over the place. So, really, the whole birthmark Arcana stuff in the recent movie might not seem so out of place when it comes to the later games—I mean, in one of Jax’s recent endings, he actually undoes slavery—it definitely wouldn’t make sense when it comes to the original video game, where most of the characters in this reboot come from.
That first movie really nails the plot of the first two games, which are all about a tournament. In that film, the heroes of Earthrealm have to fight the villains of Outworld in a tournament to the death, and the heroes do just that. That said, the recent movie DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A TOURNAMENT. I can’t shout that out loud enough. Yes, the reboot has a ton of Easter eggs for the fans, but so what? I feel like the 1995 movie, bad special effects and all, much more closely follows the Mortal Kombat stories that I remember, and when it comes to a movie, story counts, dammit.
It Rides Its Cheese All The Way Through
Here’s another important aspect of the first movie. It’s super cheesy! Cheese is actually a very important part of Mortal Kombat. Because despite how violent MK can get, as you can see in some of Mortal Kombat’s insane kills, it still never really takes itself seriously. This is a series, mind you, that used to have a programmer named Dan Forden, pop out of the bottom of the scream and shrilly shout, “Toasty!” when you would sometimes do uppercuts. So, yeah. Mortal Kombat is super silly.
Did I mention that you could also do babalities alongside your grisly fatalities? The first movie really rode that cheese all the way through. Raiden told jokes, Scorpion would just appear from behind a tree, and Johnny Cage would deliver a nut punch to Goro. It’s all just there! Compare that to the reboot where only Kano’s actor, Josh Lawson, appears to be having fun (well, him, and Kabal), and you have a film that is cheesy, but doesn’t really embrace it, and that kind of sucks.
I Like All Of The Characters Rather Than Just A Few
Speaking of Kano and Kabal, those are the only two characters I really like in the new movie. And, I only sort of like Joe Taslim’s Sub-Zero. Seriously, the rest of the characters are as bland as could be. Especially the hero, Cole Young. Cole has virtually no personality whatsoever, and half the time, I forgot what he was even doing in the movie. I know he’s supposed to represent the audience being introduced to this world, but did he really have to be a total dud? I mean, Arrested Development's Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) is supposed to be the straight man, and he has some of the best lines.
Inversely, I like ALL of the characters in the 1995 movie. Kano. Liu Kang. Raiden…Johnny Cage. Scorpion. Sub-Zero. Sonya. MORTAL KOMBAT! I mean, just every single one of them had personality in the first movie, even Scorpion and Sub-Zero, who were pretty much just palate swaps in the film like they were in the early games. Even they had more personality than Cole Young or Nitara. I mean, why were some of these characters even in the movie? Raiden was pretty much just a human bag of exposition. No. The original was so much better in this regard. So much better.
It Still Hits Me Hard In The Nostalgia
Lastly, the original Mortal Kombat just hits me hard in the nostalgia. Now, yes, I understand that there is no way that the new movie could have the same impact on me since I’ve seen it as an adult, but I can still get nostalgic for pretty recent things, too. Like the video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild makes me nostalgic, even though that came out only four years ago. The experience left such an impression on me and it made me feel like such a kid again, that I can look back upon it as fondly as I do Super Mario 64 or even the original Mortal Kombat back in the arcade. I get that with the 1995 MK movie, too.
I know for a fact that I won’t ever be nostalgic for the recent Mortal Kombat movie, because I forgot about it nearly as soon as it ended. I’m sorry, but it’s not a very memorable picture, and the things that are memorable about it (Why does Kabal feel like he belongs in a completely different movie?), are not really favorable things. So, yeah, the 1995 film still hits me with that Techno Syndrome nostalgia, while this new film will never even come close.
I have several more reasons why I would rather re-watch the original over the reboot (That soundtrack, anyone?), but I’ll just leave it at five. But, what do you think? Leave your thoughts in the poll below.
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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.
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