"I have looked into their souls... and yours. One of you three will decide the outcome of the tournament. The fate of billions will depend upon you. Heh heh heh heh... sorry."
Mortal Kombat is a 1995 film based on the long running Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise; it incorporates elements from the series' first two games (with a decided emphasis on the first game).Martial artist Liu Kang (Robin Shou), U.S. Special Forces agent Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson), and Hollywood superstar Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) meet each other as they travel to an uncharted island for an underground fighting tournament, only to discover what the tournament is all about: Mortal Kombat is held once a generation to determine Earth's fate. There are multiple "realms", one of which — Outworld — is close to opening a pathway to Earth and conquering humanity. Outworld's takeover depends on its champions successfully defeating Earth's best challengers in ten consecutive tournaments — and with nine victories, all Outworld needs is one more to begin its invasion.The three protagonists each have a personal reason for competing: Liu Kang seeks to avenge his brother's death, Sonya seeks to bring a violent killer to justice, and Johnny seeks validation of his skills as a martial artist. Raiden (Christopher Lambert), the God of Lightning and Thunder, serves as their mentor and guide throughout the tournament — and the trio also finds a sympathetic voice from Outworld in Princess Kitana (Talisa Soto). Outworld's forces are not ill-prepared for a challenge, however: Shang Tsung (Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa), his dragon Goro (Kevin Michael Richardson), elite soldiers Sub-Zero (Francois Petit) and Scorpion (Chris Casamassa), and Sonya's nemesis Kano (Trevor Goddard) all seek to win the tournament and kickstart Outworld's invasion of Earth.The movie was well received by fans and was a box office hit, leading to a sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, which was not well received, even by camp movie standards. Nonetheless, the original introduced its own take on the mythology, some of which was integrated into the canon of the games.
These films provide examples of...
All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Raiden wore one at the beginning of the film, even though he was played by a white actor. However, despite his physical appearance, his name and role in the film implies he is the Japanese and/or Chinese god of thunder.
BBC Quarry: Outworld is oddly gravelly, and the background is CG'd out "darkness". The set was built out of an abandoned steel mill, so they only needed to add things for flavor like the statues. This had the side-effect of making the set absolutely huge, and at least one pilot flying over the area when it was properly lit and smoked up called the nearest tower to make sure he hadn't hit some sort of Bermuda Triangle.
Black Dude Dies First: Twice: Liu Kang's first (black) opponent ends up having his soul sucked out by Shang Tsung after Liu refuses to finish him, and Art Lean ends up dead at Goro's hands before having his soul sucked out in a major kick the dog moment by Shang Tsung.
Big "NO!": Both Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage let one out after Goro defeats Art Lean. Sonya's is a little odd as it's far more passionate than Johnny's even though she hadn't even shared a scene with Art before that match.
Bloodless Carnage: The games are rated M, the game world's equivalent of R; the film is rated PG-13. This was a pretty unavoidable consequence of that fact. As such, there is exactly one drop of blood in the entire film: It appears on Shang Tsung's bottom lip during the beginning of the final fight with Liu Kang, just before his verbatim "You Fool!" (Scorpion possibly averts it, but the substance coming out of him seems to be more lava than blood).
Canon Foreigner: Chan Kang and Art Lean. Liu Kang does have a brother in the games, but his name is Chow Kang.
Dramatic Thunder: All the time. For example, when Raiden explains to Liu Kang that Shang Tsung stole the souls of thousands of opponents. Of course, Raiden is a thunder god with a penchant for theatrics, so he's probably doing it on purpose.
Face Your Fears: Raiden talks to Sonya, Johnny and Liu Kang about confronting their own fears: fear to admit the need of help, fear of being a fake, and fear to face one's destiny, respectively.
Fake Action Prologue: Johnny is introduced beating up a bunch of guys in a warehouse, but it turns out that he is only filming a scene for a movie.
Faux Action Girl: Sonya had one tournament fight against Kano (which was proven to be fairly tough) and everyone was involved with the group fight against the mooks earlier. But as soon as Shang Tsung gets her in a hammerlock, she stops even trying to fight back. Compared to the very long fight scenes of Johnny (who kills Scorpion and Goro) and Liu Kang (who has five fights throughout the movie, including the one against Shang Tsung himself), Sonya didn't get much of a chance to really prove herself.
Flexible Tourney Rules: Justified since the tournament is in Shang Tsung's corrupted power, so he can do almost anything he pleases. Some competitors (Liu) fight more than others, locales can vary (Cage being transported to Scorpion's underworld), etc.
The Ghost: Up until the final scene, Shao Kahn is never seen in the movie. Even his name goes unmentioned, with characters referring only to him as "The Emperor".
How Did We Get Back Home?: Twice: when Johnny somehow escapes Scorpion's dimension, and at the end when the heroes somehow escape Outworld.
Human Aliens: Most of the non-protagonists, namely, Shang Tsung, Kitana, Liu Kang's first opponent, the generic mooks and possibly also Scorpion and Reptile. This is made clear to audiences less familiar with the games in Liu Kang's first fight with the nameless mook. He looks perfectly normal, but startles Liu by growling like a tiger.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: Every time Shang Tsung mentions Sonya, it's with glowing praise for her beauty, or mentioning he has "great plans" for her, making it clear that he lured her to the island for reasons other than her fighting prowess.
Kick the Dog: Shang Tsung's finishing stomp on poor Chan (while he was down, no less) was a pretty early indicator of his big badness, even before he started taking souls. And then there's what he does to Art Lean after Goro kills him.
Large Ham: Every talking bad guy, and Raiden when he's not snarking.
Movie star Johnny Cage brings several large bags to dock for the trip to the tournament. After asking Liu Kang to carry them for him, Liu dumps them into the bay.
It gets even better. Upon first landing at the island, Johnny falls right into the water due to being weighed down by so much luggage, and then, as the crew are climbing a huge number of steps, he falls and drops some of it, prompting Liu to ask "Do you need help with those?"
Mauve Shirt: The group makes friends with another human fighter named Art Lean in the tournament, only to watch Goro take him apart, prompting Johnny to take Goro on in the very next fight to avenge him and keep him from killing anyone else.
Mook Chivalry: Inverted, though probably not on purpose. When Reptile attacks Liu Kang, Johnny (who was standing not thirty feet away) conveniently remains off-screen instead of helping.
Mr. Fanservice: Liu Kang and Johnny Cage. Cary Tagawa's buff Shang Tsung references the second game's younger version of the character.
Ms. Fanservice: The battle outfits of Kitana and Sonya with more emphasis on the latter, where Brigette Wilson spent the movie's second act in a black tank top and skimpy shorts, and later a slave dress.
Multiarmed And Dangerous: Goro. Used to devastating effect against one opponent, with Goro grabbing the man's arms with his lower set of hands and then pummeling him with the upper set.
Murderous Thighs: Sonya, in the most literal way possible. She gets Kano in a headscissor and then snaps his neck by twisting her legs.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Raiden becoming a mentor to the others instead of a fellow combatant was seen as an acceptable change by the fans.
To some degree, it has even become Ret Canon. Mortal Kombat 9, for example, takes place back in the time of the first three games. Raiden doesn't participate as a kombatant until the end, instead advising others.
Race Lift: Raiden is curiously white for an Asian deity. Likewise, as mentioned below, Kano went from Japanese to Australian background.
Ret Canon: The reception of the movie caused these elements to be carried over to the games themselves:
Trevor Goddard's interpretation of Kano was so well received that Kano was made into an Australian in the games following this movie. He has also in at least one game had a move called "Ear to Ear", named after a line in the movie.
The rivalry between Johnny and Goro.
The love interest angle of Kitana and Liu Kang, as well as Johnny Cage and Sonya.
Details like a realm having to win 10 tournaments in a row.
Raiden being established as a mentor archetype to the heroes rather than being a fellow combatant with his own agenda. Even minor changes like Raiden's white hair were made canon (it was originally brown, but never seen).
Roar Before Beating: An odd example. When Liu Kang, Johnny, and Sonya are wandering around the island toward the start, they see Goro's silhouette as he's walking down the hall. Goro lifts his arms and roars, but he doesn't seem to have actually seen the trio. Apparently Goro just stops to roar at the world in general every once in a while when he's going about his business. Does play it straight once Shang Tsung releases him into the tournament.
This Is the Part Where...: Done twice by Johnny, once to a stuntman who botches a take while filming a fight scene, and an Ironic Echo as noted above, to Goro while he's hanging onto the ledge of a pit.
Title Scream: "MORTAL KOOOOOMBAT!" The juxtaposition of classical music, the scream and techno make this one of the best examples of Mood Whiplash on film.
Brandon Lee was cast as Johnny but he died in an accident while filming The Crow.
Cameron Diaz was originally cast as Sonya. She broke her wrist before filming began.
Steven Spielberg was supposed to make a cameo appearance in the movie. However, due to scheduling conflicts, Spielberg backed out.
Would Hit a Girl: Kano lands some pretty heavy-duty shots on Sonya, including a full on kick to the ribs while she's down.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Liu Kang's fight with Kitana consists entirely of exchanging armlocks before Shang Tsung calls it off. Kitana was more or less controlling that fight completely. One does not tend to pop someone in the mouth when they're actually trying to help you, after all. Shang Tsung didn't allow her to be killed because she was the princess, so there's that too.
Wrestler in All of Us: With Sonya, that's a given. Liu Kang, on the other hand, pulls off a Frankensteiner on Reptile.