Mortal Kombat raised me.
Now, that may raise an alarm for some parents (I mean, there were whole national controversies about video game violence), but I’m also a Black woman living in a country that is inherently violent (especially to my people) who has somehow managed not to live a life exhibiting violence, so there’s that. Anyway, my cousin and I were obsessed with Mortal Kombat from the very beginning—as soon as we saw the arcade game in our favorite pizza restaurant! It was a game, but it wasn’t a game, for us. We had the cheat code books and everything. The sound effect phrases “toasty!” and “flawless victory” reverberated throughout our homes every time a new version of the game was released.
So, yes we were extra excited to see the 1990s feature film adaptations of the popular video game (which are... “special” in their own way and pretty much considered cult classics). And we can’t forget about that epic theme song!
Cut to 2021 and we have an updated version of the adaptation—equipped with our modern technological advancements. That’s right; it’s time for some high-definition yet nostalgic gore! It is aptly titled, Mortal Kombat.
More info on MK, directed by Simon McQuoid, from the official press release sent to The Root:
In “Mortal Kombat,” MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul—in time to save not only his family, but to stop Outworld once and for all?
The Root sat down with Mehcad Brooks who portrays Jax in the film. When asked about what makes this film special as a follow-up to the nostalgic films of the past, Mehcad noted, “Not to take anything away from them, but the Japanese thunder god [Lord Raiden] in the ‘90s was a guy named Christopher Lambert. He’s not Japanese. He’s a fantastic actor, but what we’ve done in Hollywood for way too long is help America launder its own bigotry.” In the 2021 film, Lord Raiden is portrayed by Tadanobu Asano, a Japanese actor and musician.
Mehcad went on to champion the film’s diverse case and of course, spoke on the representation of Black characters in the popular franchise, such as Jax.
“African-Americans can tell a story from a perspective that no one else can,” Mehcad mused. “Being Black in America...it’s a constant state of alchemy of transmuting anger into purpose, pain into passion [and] sorrow into fuel. We were systematically held from having our voices heard and expanded upon and I’m looking forward to those days being over.”
We also had some fun and fanned-out about our favorite MK fighters, of course. If Mehcad had to pick someone other than Jax, he’d pick Scorpion, which delighted me because he was my favorite male fighter. I was a Mileena girl, myself! Shout-out to Sisi Stringer, who portrays her in the 2021 film.
Mortal Kombat (2021) will hit theaters nationwide on April 23 and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release.