Mortal Kombat (4K UHD Blu-Ray Review)

Although I was bummed not to see Mortal Kombat on the big screen back in April because of COVID-19, I was still excited to witness a new CG-filled, gory, R-rated adaptation of the game previously realized as director Paul W.S Anderson’s first hit film from 1995. The burden of what makes a good or bad videogame movie can’t be put entirely on Anderson’s shoulders even though he made many films based on two of them. Yet if you’ve seen the cheesy 90s MK movies, you can probably exclaim, “mortal kombaaattttt!” whether or not you’re being asked. Could a new, big-budget, 21st-century upgrade legitimize video game movies once and for all? Or, at the very least, would it be as fun as pantomiming a fatality to your friends and co-workers? (Probably not). Boasting 4K HDR picture quality along with Dolby Atmos is certainly a sensation for the eyes and ears either way. 3 2 1 FIGHT!


A terrific opening featuring fan-favorite Sub-Zero gets Mortal Kombat off to a good start. Taking place in 17th century feudal Japan, Bi-Han (aka Sub-Zero, played by The Raid‘s Joe Taslim) and his Lin Kuei clan have set out to kill off the warriors of the Shirai ninja clan. Pretty much all the staples fans love about the popular series is here: a well-staged martial arts one-on-one, cool ice powers, and a gruesome finishing move. These first ten minutes had my attention as the brave Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is felled by Sub-Zero but manages to save his own bloodline by hiding his infant baby. After the fight, Raiden (Tadnobu Asano) shows up to find the baby and literally lightning bolts them both to safety.

Hundreds of years later, in our time, the legendary Mortal Kombat tournament is fast approaching. Earth realm has lost the last nine tournaments. If it loses a tenth, the world will succumb to the Outworld’s takeover, presumably forever. Luckily, a roster of familiar faces and at least one new player will prepare to fight the soul-sucking sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han).

The problem is that “preparation” is pretty much the whole film. And the tournament, which is the focus of the games and seen in the 90s movie is apparently, being saved for a sequel. So 2021’s Mortal Kombat is less a satisfying story and more akin to a nearly two-hour pilot for a season of television we can’t binge over the weekend. Or in video game terms, it’s nearly all tutorial, and no one likes that.

Look, if all you want is to see Sonya Blade, Kano, Jaxx, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Mileena be badasses, you’ll be fine. I’m never gonna prefer this to Enter the Dragon but seeing a gush of blood freeze into a weapon, or the six-armed Goro go berserk, or even a pretty graphic game accurate spinal pull is fun enough.

I also think it’s an odd choice that first-time director Simon McQuoid and screenwriters Greg Russo, Dave Callaham, and Oren Uziel would crib from Anderson’s playbook by creating a new character to follow as our hero. Like Alice in Resident Evil, Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is someone who has no clue about the adventure he’s tossed into. He doesn’t suffer from amnesia like Milla Jovovich’s iconic role, but he’s definitely in the dark about that wacky dragon birthmark he has. Suffice to say, Cole’s life as failed MMA fighter is about to go from making 200 bucks a fight to saving the world with Sonya and the gang. Again, this works, but there are 97 fighters to choose from in the games.

Speaking of, while I do think the plot is pretty negligible, the cast is solid. I was a fan of Mecad Brooks since he played James Olson on the CW’s Supergirl, and he’s a perfect choice for Jaxx. Ditto Jessica McNamee as a no-nonsense Sonya. Even a one-dimensional character like the evil Kano is played with charm (mostly) by Josh Lawson. Rounding out the cast are the aforementioned veteran performers Sanada and Han.

Beyond the cast, the film is well-paced, even though 90 minutes would have been preferable to 107. The score somewhat evokes the techno sounds of the 90s movies. The budget on the FX work, while not stellar more times than not, is effective. In the end, Mortal Kombat is far from a flawless victory, but if a sequel gets made, all may be forgiven.




Reviewer’s gear: I am using an LG CX OLED 55” with the recent firmware update. The 4K player is a PlayStation 5, which has HDR. I was able to view DV on my Apple TV 4K via the digital code. The audio was a Sony Soundbar 5.1

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: This is the first WB 4K title this year that did not knock it out of the park. It might be the way it was shot, but there are too many washed-out scenes. It’s 4K resolution, so it’s still good, but I’m surprised the textures of Outrealm or a snow-bound forest set in feudal Japan isn’t sharper.

Depth: Good, not great. Just not as was well balanced throughout compared to WB’s own recent Godzilla Versus Kong. Moments on ice or a hot desert sun deliver plenty of the desired range, but other scenes like inside a small apartment or warehouse are dull.

Black Levels: The disc is strong, with blacks are deep. But the Dolby Vision digital on my Apple TV 4K has some crushing.

Color Reproduction: This is not a very colorful film which is weird considering the source material, but the occasional flourishes of blood reds, electric blues, and the golden oranges of dragon impress when the filmmaker’s intent allows it.

Flesh Tones:  Skin behaves naturally and is consistent throughout.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.



Audio Format(s): English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Italian: Dolby Atmos, Italian: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps), French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps), Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: From the low hums of an underground cavern to the powerful electrical bursts of Raiden, the balance is spot on.

Low-Frequency Extension: Small stuff like a muffled explosion delivers.

Surround Sound Presentation: Excellent with my Sony soundbar.

Height: Atmos is the king of spatial audio, and the literal heights of an uppercut are perfect in execution.

Dialogue Reproduction: The disc is immaculate with dialogue, although, with the digital version, I tend to switch to “reduce loud sounds” during high-end carnage, so the dialogue is easier to understand.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Using my spacial AirPods Max headphones, I heard in front, behind, above, and below, which is what you want in those close quarter deathmatches.


Mortal Kombat comes in a standard plastic case with a cardboard slipcover. A 4K digital code is included. The extras are on the Blu or included with the digital version.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD) 
    • Reel 3 – Scene 33, Extended Cole Nightmare and Longer Kano Plane Story (1:01)
    • Reel 3 – Scene 35, Sea of Spikes (1:54)
    • Reel 4 – Scene 55A, Kung Lao and Liu Kang Meet with Raiden in Chinese Garden (0:43)
    • Reel 5 – Scene 75, Sub-Zero Confronts Shang Tsung (0:33)
  • From Game to Screen: The Making of MORTAL KOMBAT (HD, 21:30)
  • Fight Koreography (HD, 9:04)
  • Mortal Kombat: Fan Favorite Characters (HD, 17:08 total) – Make your character selection! The only feature missing is a randomizer option. Characters unlocked: Cole Young, Sonya Blade, Kano, Sub-Zero, Jax, Raiden, Scorpion, Shang Tsung, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Mileena.
  • Into the Krypt: Easter eggs of MORTAL KOMBAT (HD, 4:11)
  • Anatomy of a Scene KOMBAT (HD, 12:22)
    • Hanzo Hasashi vs. Bi-Han (1:53)
    • MMA Fight: Cole vs. Ramirez (1:52)
    • Sonya vs. Kano (1:33)
    • Scorpion vs. Sub-Zero (2:18)
    • Reiko vs. Jax (1:15)
    • Kabal vs. Liu Kang (1:30)
    • Mileena vs. Cole (2:01)


If you’re a fan of the series or up for a turn your brain off martial arts extravaganza, Mortal Kombat might just be a fight you can’t refuse. I wish the film were less a tease for a sequel, but the cast is solid, and the action works. The fights can be fun even there’s too much cutting for my tastes. If you dug this new 2021 filmed version of the iconic videogame series, this package offers a ton of extras. Sound good? Then get over here and order a copy!

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