Mortal Kombat was an enormous hit when it came out in 1995. You’re probably humming the theme song as you read this. It’s not the greatest movie ever made but plenty of people will defend its goofy charms. It spawned an animated series, a live-action series, and even a goofy stage show. The sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, was an embarrassing follow-up that’s often considered one of the worst movies of all time and it effectively killed the film franchise. The series has laid dormant for the most part — the web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy was immediately forgotten upon its release — but now there are rumblings that a third Mortal Kombat movie could be in the works.
In a recent interview, Christopher Lambert (Highlander) said that he has been in touch with the screenwriters and that their newest take on a third film would involve time travel. Lambert played Raiden in the first Mortal Kombat film but declined to reprise the role for the sequel because he didn’t like the script. Smart move, Chris.
The idea of a direct sequel seems a bit misguided, but the concept of involving time travel means that a soft reboot could potentially be the route to go. The ninth Mortal Kombat game used a time travel element to tell its story, and it was easily the best narrative that the series ever came up with. A similar setup could be used to restart the film franchise and hand it off to a new generation.
Unfortunately, there are a few things keeping this from being exciting news. First, it’s doubtful this will get off the ground without turning into a full-on remake. Lambert would probably be the only returning cast member from the original film, and the novelty of that casting will be lost on a modern audience. It’s a shame because Lambert is easily one of the highlights of the first movie. Also, the Mortal Kombat brand isn’t nearly as successful as it used to be. Granted, it still has a loyal and ardent fan base but it would be impossible to replicate the fervor the franchise experienced at its peak.
The biggest knock against another Mortal Kombat movie based on the original film has to do with the most important element of the franchise: over-the-top gore. The movies went for a PG-13 rating and deflated the one thing the games were infamous for portraying. If a new Mortal Kombat film does get made, it should embrace the comical violence that is a hallmark of the series. Get someone like Jason Lei Howden (Deathgasm) or the people involved in Ash vs Evil Dead to bring the zany blood and guts to the big screen.
Don’t hold your breath on this news becoming a reality, but do expect someone to do something with the Mortal Kombat brand in the next few years. Hollywood can only go so long before it needs to milk another franchise. Let’s hope that when they do, it’ll produce a film that’s more representative of its source material. But they gotta keep that theme song.