A quick look at HBO Max's Mortal Kombat movie

(Image via HBO Max) A flag displaying the Mortal Kombat logo as a scene in the concept trailer
(Image via HBO Max) A flag displaying the Mortal Kombat logo as a scene in the concept trailer

Mortal Kombat is no stranger to cinema, and this year the streaming service HBO Max plans to bring a brand new Mortal Kombat movie to its digital distribution service.


The upcoming film has a few interesting names attached to it, including talented martial arts actors like Joe Talsim (The Raid: Redemption) and Hiroyuki Sanada (The Twilight Samurai). It will be interesting to see if HBO Max can adapt the convoluted story of Mortal Kombat into an interesting film, but chances are it will be another fun and campy entry into the franchise’s film history.

Mortal Kombat might not make for a great movie, but it can still be a fun one

There’s an important distinction to make when talking about these kinds of video game movies. Few video game movies to date (Ready Player One, Detective Pikachu, etc.) have been an outright success.

Even fewer have been profitable (Warcraft), but they are often panned by critics for having convoluted writing which is often difficult to make into a good feature length movie.

Already, the odds seem stacked against Mortal Kombat, but there’s a catch. Sometimes how critically good a movie is doesn’t matter as much as it seems. Some of the most poorly constructed movies ever made have turned into cult hits, often due to a fun and energetic tone. The passionate feeling put into them can result in an awkward product sometimes it can be overlooked.

The 1995 Mortal Kombat film is just one such film. Although not good in the traditional sense, the movie is fun to watch, over the top, campy, and features the best live-action portrayal of Raiden played by Christopher Lambert. This, along with one of the most memorable ‘90s theme songs, gave it an identity and life beyond what anyone ever expected.

HBO Max’s adaptation of Mortal Kombat features some stunning production value

It’s hard to tell how good something will be just by its promotional materials, but the concept trailer and images released so far show a level of production value not often expected from video game adaptations. The characters are immediately identifiable as their game counterparts, and the sets and costuming give each of them a unique image.

Another big difference from this entry and the 1995 movie is that this one will sport an R rating, giving it the ability to portray the ridiculous gore and violence the series is known for. Fair warning, it’s likely that this movie will be difficult to watch for people easily put off by violence.

(Image via HBO Max) Best not get too attached to this guy...
(Image via HBO Max) Best not get too attached to this guy...

One significant worry is that many names associated with the project lack the cinematic pedigree fans might hope for. It seems HBO is interested in using the project as a means to give some new talent a chance to get some screen time and show off their abilities.

Hopefully, the cast and crew will be able to put together something fun that they can be proud of.