Title: Mortal Kombat
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Chis Pang (Liu Kang), Maggie Q (Kitana), Donnie Yen (Raiden), Stephen Amell (Johnny Cage), Margot Robbie (Sonya Blade), Brian Tee (Shang Tsung), Daniel Wu (Kung Lao), Vin Diesel (Goro), Joe Mangianello (Kano)
In the beginning of the film, we visit each of our first three Earthrealm characters.
First, we see Johnny Cage on the set of his most recent movie in Los Angeles. He is filming a fight sequence against a group of on screen baddies. As his scene wraps up, he returns to his trailer and finds an envelope addressed to him that seems to be fan mail. He opens the letter to find an invitation to an underground tournament that just happens to be that evening. A car has been sent for him and the drive is waiting outside. Johnny heads toward the limo and gets in. As the car pulls away, we see that the driver (disguised as a middle-aged white man in a suit) is actually Donne Yen.
Next up, we visit Sonya Blade, who has just returned from another mission. She is visited by her superior officer and given the orders for her next missions, which just happens to be in Los Angeles. She reluctantly accepts the mission and heads to her SUV. As she walks away we see the person who handed her the orders is not what he seemed and once again, Donnie Yen’s character is revealed.
Then we find Liu Kang, walking down the street of his neighborhood. As he passes an alley, a man walks out and calls him by name. Liu Kang turns to acknowledge the person who called out to him to find an elderly Japanese man with a long white, flowing beard. The man speaks in riddles, confusing Liu, but something draws him to the old man. Eventually the old man hands him an envelope with an invitation similar to the one that Johnny Cage received, but the wording is very different. We don’t know exactly what the invitation says, but it motivates Liu Kang to head off in a different direction, clearly on a mission.
The three warriors arrive at the same location later that night, confused as to why they are there, but before they can talk enough to figure it out, a bolt of lightning shoots down from the sky, followed by Raiden, who explains to them that they have been chosen to participate in a tournament with the prize being the continued freedom of their realm (Earth) which is being threatened by Outworld. It all seems unreal and entirely impossible, but Raiden goes on to share the story of Mortal Kombat with them while projecting images of the tournament to their minds. The images are more than enough to convince them that this must be true.
The group is transported away to Shang Tsung’s Island, where they are greeted by the warlock. Shang Tsung hosts a huge welcome party where the participants are introduced and we first see the other competitors – Kano, Scorpion, SubZero & Goro, along with several other “no name” fighters who we are sure will be knocked off early and without consequence.
During the event, Liu Kang is approached by Princess Kitana (Shang Tsung’s adopted daughter). Kitana makes it clear that she is an ally and will aid the fighters from Earth during the tournament. She warns them to watch their back at all times, as winning fights in the tournament is not their only obstacle while on the island.
The next day: Unlike in the 1995 film, the fights take place in a true tournament style, more like Bloodsport and the actual video game. Names are drawn randomly per round and the contestants go up against one another at different venues around the island. We progress along through the earlier rounds, with all of our main cast members easily defeating the lower ranked “no name” fighters and eventually get to the REAL fights of the movie.
In the main event fights, Sony Blade takes out Kano, Johnny Cage defeats Scorpion and then Liu Kang defeats Sub Zero, but that is where things derail. With Raiden set to fight next, Goro leaps into the arena and tries to take out Liu Kang, catching him off guard – before the next round could be set up. The two battle it out for several minutes & Liu Kang is knocked to the ground more than once. Sonya Blade & Johnny Cage both jump in to take down Goro but are easily thrown to the side. With the heat taken off of him for a moment, Liu summons all the energy he has left and unleashes his flying bicycle kick on Goro, repeatedly hitting him with powerful kicks as he pushes him back. Eventually the move pushes Goro back to the edge of the cliff near the arena and over the edge. Liu Kang is victorious.
With only the three Earthrealm fighters & Raiden remaining, the tournament should have ended, but Shang Tsung bends the rules and announces that he will fight in Mortal Kombat and take over the Earthrealm with his victory. The team votes Liu Kang to continue on in the final battle. During this championship fight, Shang Tsung morphs from fighter to fighter, using different fighting styles and moves against Liu Kang. At one point, he even transforms into Liu Kang himself and tries the deadly bicycle kick, but Liu reads this and easily defends the move, deflecting Shang Tsung’s attack. Liu uses the opportunity to attack Shang Tsung with everything he’s got and overcomes the Warlock. Shang Tsung is defeated and as he dies, the souls and power of the legions of warriors he has defeated are released.
Raiden returns the fighters back to earth and a small celebration is held. The rest of the world would have no idea what this group of fighters had done to save them….. At least for now.
Title: Mortal Kombat
Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: Amy Johnston (Sonya Blade), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Johnny Cage), Michael Jai White (Jackson Briggs), Ludi Lin (Liu Kang), Manu Bennett (Kano), Jet Li (Raiden), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shang Tsung), Dwayne Johnson (Shao Khan), Donnie Yen (Scorpion)
We open on Johnny Cage. He’s in an underground tournament, one where death is not a rare end to the fight. He’s there to prove that he’s the real-deal martial artist, not just a washed-up b-movie star. He takes down an unknown and makes it to the final match. They announce his opponent is Kano, head of the Black Dragon cartel and three-time winner of the tournament. Everyone knows it’s because he fights dirty, but in a tournament like this, there are no rules to break.
Several people are highlighted among the modest crowd of thugs and mob bosses. Among them, whispering into their radios, are partners Jackson Briggs and Sonya Blade. They’ve been sent to take down the tournament and bring in Kano, only they’ve been unable to find him prior to the tournament’s start. They’re waiting, knowing that he’ll have to show himself to defend his title. Another mysterious figure is watching from the crowd. We see only his blue eyes glowing in the darkness.
When Kano enters, Sonya and Jax quietly move to opposite sides of the small arena. The fight has already begun. Cage and Kano match each other well, until Kano pulls a knife. Then Sonya and Jax rush the mat, and everything turns to chaos. Kano and Jax face off with each other, and Cage, furious that his chance to prove himself has been spoiled, turns on Sonya.
The fights are brutal. Jax is stabbed multiple times. Kano loses an eye. Sonya breaks one of Cage’s legs. Then the angry crowd joins in and comes after the fighters, but as they descend on the arena, lightning explodes all around them and the mysterious figure from the crowd appears in the middle of it all. Raiden sends people flying, taking down the more aggressive patrons until they all finally flee in fear. The four fighters on stage are all that are left. They position themselves against their new electric foe, and Raiden looks pleased with the chance to defeat them, but when Sonya and Jax’s backup comes in, Raiden vanishes, leaving behind petals of the white lotus flower.
We move to the Honan Province in China. Liu Kang is training against his Shaolin brothers at the Order of Light Temple. Liu Kang is clearly the best fighter they have. The temple elder takes select fighters aside, Liu Kang included, to a secret temple adorned in white lotus flowers. He explains to them what they’ve been preparing for all these years. There is a tournament to save mankind from another world, and after losing many of the previous generational tournaments, this is their last chance. He says that this small group are the warriors who will save Earth, until Raiden appears, and explains his own plan.
Raiden, identified as a friend and protector of Earth, wishes to enter other Earth contestants from outside the White Lotus Society. This sets a stir in the warrior group, and Liu Kang argues with Raiden, but ultimately concedes to the god of thunder. Raiden promises Liu Kang they will be victorious, if he can just trust him.
Raiden travels back to visit Johnny Cage in the hospital. We discover that Kano and Jax were taken somewhere else, and even Sonya doesn’t know where they are. She’s there interrogating Johnny Cage when Raiden appears, explains to them both his proposal for them to be in the Mortal Kombat tournament, then heals Cage’s leg to prove to them both that the supernatural is real. He also tells Cage that he’s given him something a little extra to help him in the tournament. Cage is on board right away, but Sonya cares little for the tournament. She’s concerned for her partner. Raiden explains that Jax and everyone on Earth will suffer if she doesn’t participate. She leaves without giving an answer, and Raiden leaves without giving any more details.
Raiden travels to Outworld, a horrific and hellish land, to visit Shao Khan, Outworld’s reigning emperor. Raiden says he has selected his warriors. Shao Khan says the same, and we meet Shang Tsung, Khan’s right-hand man and a powerful sorcerer. We discover more about the tournament and that Shang Tsung will be sending their fighters to Earth for each match.
Raiden tries to convince Shao Khan to call it off. He says Shao Khan, like Raiden, was meant to protect Outworld, not send it into war for more suffering. Shao Khan says as long as other worlds exist, Outworld will be threatened. It his duty to end the possibility for Outworld’s destruction by being the only realm to exist, his own vision of peace for his people. Raiden says Earth is no threat to Outworld. Shao Khan says, then this will all be over soon. Raiden asks when the tournament is set to begin. Shang Tsung says it already has, then vanishes.
We cut to Liu Kang in the secret White Lotus temple. He is praying, asking to be given the power of his ancestor Kung Lao, the first Earthrealm victor of the Mortal Kombat tournament 500 years before. The Great Kung Lao appears before Liu Kang, telling him of the misery he now suffers. After being defeated by Goro, his soul is now a slave to the sorcerer Shang Tsung. Liu notices the world around him degrading and crumbling, a representation of what it would be if conquered by Outworld. He questions if Kung Lao is actually who he says, and we watch Lao transform into Shang Tsung. He tells Liu he will die and suffer, as will all of Earth. Liu challenges him, but Shang Tsung says not yet, and as the sorcerer disappears, another fighter takes his place.
It’s sub-zero, a lethal warrior with ice powers. Liu and Sub duke it out until Liu is able to set sub-zero on fire, and he freezes himself to put out the flames. Liu Kang kicks off Sub Zero’s frozen head and advances in the tournament.
Johnny Cage is headed home from the hospital when a fan comes to him talking about the tournament. He’s confused until the fan shows him stolen footage of his fighting in the underground tournament against Kano. The fan is suddenly killed, dissolving in acid before Cage’s eyes. Behind him is Reptile, a warrior with acidic saliva and the power to blend into his surroundings. Cage has a hard time with Reptile’s cat and mouse games, but then he accidently performs a shadow kick. Propelling himself forward with Raiden’s bestowed powers, Johnny realizes he can do things he’s never done before. He takes down Reptile, punching him in the groin until he drools on himself and dissolves in his own acid.
We cut to Sonya who is also viewing footage of the tournament. She’s looking for what happened to Kano and Jax. She spots military-like figures lurking in the background of the stage, and runs their faces through the computer. The world around her changes as it did for Liu and Johnny, and the computer catches fire. Scorpion is there with the power of fire and teleportation. Sonya is being badly beaten and uses a fire extinguisher as both a weapon and a means to keep herself from catching fire, but when Scorpion teleports to evade her, she fires on him with her gun. Finally, pulling a second weapon, she shoots in opposite directions at the same time, and Scorpion is shot, falling from the window of the building.
Raiden gathers Earth’s combatants, and some of them are none too happy about how insanely difficult the Outworlders are to defeat. To boost their confidence he sends lightning into each of them, enhancing their natural abilities into the supernatural. They will need it, he says, as they need to defeat Goro and the sorcerer Shang Tsung. He says each will play their part to save Earth, but only one of them can win.
Sonya is the first to fight Goro, a four-armed giant, and tournament champion for the last 500 years after he defeated Kung Lao. This part of the tournament uses Outworld locations to enhance the danger. With her new strength, Sonya inflicts some heavy blows on Goro, but she is defeated and killed. Liu Kang steps in and matches Goro with furious and unrelenting kicks, but when Goro turns the tables, Liu has to gather his strength. Praying for help from Kung Lao, he summons dragon fire, hurling blasts at Goro until the beast is stunned. Liu Kang bicycle kicks Goro off the edge of the platform into a pit of spikes. Liu immediately turns to Shang Tsung, shouting for him to fight, but Shang Tsung says there’s a special fight scheduled for such an important tournament.
The world around them shifts again and Liu Kang and Johnny Cage are in Shang Tsung’s throne room. He’s seated on a chair in the middle, the men bound in the middle by an invisible barrier. Raiden appears, and Liu asks him to challenge the match, but Raiden says it is necessary. He told them only one of them could win.
Johnny and Liu fight, each attempting not to harm the other, but Shang Tsung is speaking to them in their minds. He tells Johnny that if he loses, it will confirm that he is a fraud. He whispers to Shang Tsung that as a monk he must show mercy to his Earthly brother. As each battle the other, they are also battling Shang Tsung’s mind games. Johnny finally relents, saying he can’t be the greatest on Earth if there’s no Earth left. He knows Liu is the one who should fight for Earth, and Johnny gets knocked out by Liu. Raiden transports Johnny from the arena and the final battle is set to begin.
Liu and Shang are in the Hall of Statues, where every fighter in the tournament is honored with their own statue. When the fight begins, Shang and Liu progress from simple combat to exchanges of fireballs. When Shang tires, he sends captured souls into the stone statues of the tournament’s Outworld warriors, and Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Reptile and Goro return to his side. Raiden sends bolts of lightning to his warrior’s statues and Sonya and Johnny come to life. Raiden stands with them and the fight continues, all the warriors jumping from opponent to opponent and helping one another. Finally Liu stuns Shang Tsung, then transforms into a dragon and bites off the sorceror’s head. The statue fighters crumble and the tournament is won.
Johnny returns to the movies. Liu is training the next warriors at the temple. Raiden sits with Shao Khan, asking him if he will stop his tyranny, but the emperor says he can’t. Combat is the only way to bring real peace. The tournaments must continue.