Silly, gory but great-looking and fun martial arts fantasy.
Based on 15 reviews
Based on 51 reviews
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mortal Kombat is a martial arts/fantasy/action movie that's a reboot of the 1995 version and based on a long-running, popular series of video games. Fantasy violence is extremely graphic and gory, with spattering blood spurts galore and explicit, bloody wounds. There's also lots of martial arts fighting (punching, kicking, etc.), fighting with blades of all sorts, giant monster battles, and much more. Limbs and heads are sliced off, blades go through heads and torsos (slicing from head to navel), body parts burst, someone ends up with a huge hole through them after being shot, and a monster's heart is ripped out. Language is also very strong, with several uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," etc. A character drinks a bottle of beer in one scene. Sex isn't an issue. While the story can be silly (and even dull sometimes), the great-looking action and diverse, likable heroic characters (who demonstrate courage) make the movie worth a look for mature fans.
They took everything I love.
Report this review
Report this review
What's the Story?
In MORTAL KOMBAT, it's the 17th century, and warrior Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his family are attacked by the evil Bi-Han (Joe Taslim), who has supernatural freezing powers. Hanzo vows revenge. Centuries later, struggling cage fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is approached by Jax (Mehcad Brooks), who warns him that evil forces are after him due to a prophecy involving the dragon-shaped birthmark on his chest. Cole goes to Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), where he learns that he's been chosen as part of an elite force of fighters who must protect the earth from the warriors of the Outworld realm. But first Cole must train alongside another warrior, the arrogant Kano (Josh Lawson), to find and unleash his own secret power: his "arcana."
Is It Any Good?
Aside from boring villains and silly exposition (much of which makes no sense), this gory martial arts fantasy flick actually packs a punch, thanks to likable heroes and great-looking, slick action. A reboot of the widely panned 1995 film -- which, like this one, was based on a long-running series of video games -- Mortal Kombat is that rare thing: a video-game movie that manages to overcome the typical trappings of video-game movies.
That said, the lore about how Earthrealm and Outworld realm must fight 10 battles -- nine of which have already been fought -- is flat-out ridiculous, and the movie does nothing with this information anyway. And the Outworld villains, stuck with the worst, flattest dialogue and often filmed with a blue-gray tint, are tragically dull. But the diverse heroes, Cole, Jax, and Sonya, are quite appealing. (Their comrade Kano is -- and is supposed to be -- thoroughly obnoxious.) Cole is sweetly devoted to his wife and daughter, Jax is an ex-soldier who's distraught about the loss of his arms while facing Sub-Zero, and Sonya is let down by not being "chosen" and her lack of a "birthmark." And the movie's battles definitely don't disappoint. Making his directing debut after a career in commercials, Simon McQuoid makes the action in Mortal Kombat smooth, surprising, and balletic ... as well as frequent and extremely gory.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Mortal Kombat's violence. How did the extreme gore affect you? Did the movie's tone make it feel any less real?
How are movies and video games similar? How are they different? What makes a successful movie adaptation of a video game?
Did you notice positive diverse representations in the film? Why does that matter? Which characters do you consider role models?
If you were to discover your own "arcana," what do you think it would be?
- In theaters: April 23, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: April 23, 2021
- Cast: Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Lewis Tan
- Director: Simon McQuoid
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence and language throughout, and some crude references
- Last updated: March 14, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge
Animated tale based on '90s video game has blood, gore.
The Warrior's Way
Cartoonishly violent fusion of martial arts and Westerns.
Extremely bloody, but it will entertain mature action fans.
The Forbidden Kingdom
Mostly bloodless Chan/Li martial arts adventure.
Martial arts epic is more violent than others in the genre.
For kids who love action
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate