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: The Movie is the 1995 adaptation of the popular and extremely violent video game. There isn't much of a story, and the characters speak almost entirely in clichés. There is profanity, including "bulls--t" and "a--hole." Even the martial arts scenes, as bountiful and excessive as they are, are nowhere near as entertaining as other martial arts films. A man is killed in a battle, complete with the sounds of bones breaking. One of the fighters resorts to punching his enemy in the crotch to win. A warrior's head gets frozen by one of the bad guys and is decapitated. Fighters explode and get impaled. All of this happens through the laziest of storylines; this is little more than an attempt to make a movie cashing in on what was at the time -- and to a certain extent still is -- a pop culture phenomenon.
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What's the story?
In MORTAL KOMBAT: THE MOVIE, to prevent Outworld from winning their 10th Mortal Kombat competition and thus allowing them to invade and take over Earth, Raiden (Christopher Lambert) finds and sends a Shaolin monk eager to get revenge for the death of his brother, a vain Hollywood actor, and a tough-as-nails military officer (Bridgette Wilson) to Shang Tsung's island to fight to the death against evil fighters of the earthly and alien realms. While they initially more than hold their own, true danger emerges in the form of Prince Goro, a four-armed half-human, half-dragon who will stop at nothing to defeat them. And even if they defeat Goro, they still must find a way to defeat Shang Tsung, save Earth, exact their revenge, and prove their worthiness in both the Earthly and Outworldly realms.
Is it any good?
Much like the video game on which it's based, Mortal Kombat: The Movie is endlessly violent, with only the barest of narratives and simplest of character motivation to justify the violence. The acting is subpar at best, and the dialogue is an endless cliché of the "We've got company!" variety. No one is very likable -- the "good guys" seem good only because they don't look monstrous or speak in demonic voices. Even the fight scenes aren't terribly interesting, especially compared to martial arts movies that actually have likable characters and engaging storylines.
By the time the movie reaches its climax, you don't care who wins or even if the Earth survives, just so long as all this seemingly endless fighting stops already. Action in action movies is supposed to be entertaining, not exhausting. And over 20 years after its initial release, the style, special effects, and overall mood of the movie result in '90s entertainment that has not stood the test of time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movie adaptations from popular books, TV shows, and video games. Why do you think successful books, TV shows, and video games get adapted into movies? What are some other examples of movie adaptations?
Did the violence in this movie seem necessary to the story, or did it seem like it was done purely for the sake of gratuitous entertainment?
Why do you think there were only two women in this movie?
- In theaters: July 7, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: March 26, 1997
- Cast: Christopher Lambert, Bridgette Wilson, Linden Ashby
- Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
- Studio: New Line Cinema
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Non-stop martial arts action and some violence.
- Last updated: March 3, 2021
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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.
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