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Film / Mortal Kombat: The Movie

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Let Mortal Kombat begin!
"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 Supernatural Martial Arts action film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and distributed by New Line Cinema. 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.

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. The God of Lightning and Thunder, Raiden (Christopher Lambert), tells them about the tournament's true purpose: Mortal Kombat will determine Earth's fate in the face of an invasion. Outworld, a realm that exists parallel to Earth's, requires victories in ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments — each tournament held once a generation — to open a portal that would let Outworld's forces invade Earthrealm and conquer humanity. With nine straight victories thus far, Outworld stands ready to wage a war that Earthrealm cannot possibly win.

The three protagonists each have a personal reason for competing: Liu Kang wants to avenge his brother's death, Sonya seeks to bring a violent killer to justice, and Johnny desires validation of his skills as a martial artist. Raiden serves as their mentor and guide throughout the tournament, and the trio soon finds a sympathetic voice from Outworld in Princess Kitana (Talisa Soto). But Outworld's forces did not come unprepared for a challenge: sorcerer Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), his chosen champion Goro (Kevin Michael Richardson/Frank Welker), elite soldiers Sub-Zero (François Petit) and Scorpion (Chris Casamassa), and Sonya's nemesis Kano (Trevor Goddard) all seek to win the tournament and help Outworld start its invasion.

A sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, was released in 1997. A Continuity Reboot for the live-action franchise, also titled Mortal Kombat, was released in 2021.

See also

Mortal Kombat kontains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Shang Tsung makes unwanted advances towards Sonya.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the games, Johnny Cage was simply the Plucky Comic Relief of the heroes. In this movie, while Johnny is still the most overtly funny of the heroes, he does well in all his fight scenes, and also defeats Scorpion and Goro, two of the biggest badasses in the Mortal Kombat universe. Like many other things, this carried over to later games: Mortal Kombat X in particular sees him defeat Shinnok on his own.
  • Adaptational Context Change:
    • In the game, Liu Kang entered the Mortal Kombat tournament to defend Earthrealm as was his duty as a Shaolin warrior monk. In this movie, Kang left the Shaolin prior to the events of the story and only gets involved with the tournament to get red revenge on Shang Tsung for murdering his younger brother Chan.
    • In the first game, Sub-Zero enters the tournament to assassinate Shang Tsung and Scorpion is in the tournament to kill Sub-Zero as revenge for killing him in the past. In this movie, Sub-Zero and Scorpion are brainwashed slaves fighting for Outworld, with their enmity from the games only briefly referenced by Shang Tsung.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: This film adapts the events of the first game, but takes many elements from the second:
    • Jax and Kitana debuted in MK2. While the former only makes a cameo appearance, which in turn serves as an Early-Bird Cameo in relation to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the latter plays a prominent role as Shang Tsung's personal assassin who does a Heel–Face Turn to aid the heroes in defeating the Evil Sorcerer.note 
    • Shang Tsung and his shapeshifting ability had already been seen in MK1, but his soul steal Fatality debuted in MK2. Likewise, Reptile had already been seen in MK1 as a secret character, but only got his acid spit and invisibility powers, as well as his reptile form, in MK2.
    • The way Sub-Zero kills a mook during the exhibition fight bears a resemblance to his MK2 ice grenade Fatality.
    • The autographed photo that Johnny leaves behind after defeating Scorpion is a homage to his MK2 Friendship.
    • During Liu Kang's fight with Reptile, the voice clip announcing the latter's name when he transforms is taken from MK2. There's also a wall with a window clearly inspired by the one from the Tower arena in MK2, and Liu Kang uses his bicycle kick — a move that would debut in MK2 — to end the fight; the move's voice clip from the game can even be heard if you listen closely when he goes up.
    • Outworld was first mentioned in MK2.
    • The robed Shadow Priests, seen before the final battle, were first seen in MK2 as background characters.
    • In the Novelization, Sonya fights Jade, who debuted in MK2 as a secret character.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the first game, Raiden was a neutral character, who in his ending, wound up destroying the world once he got bored of mortal competition and took on gods instead. The film keeps his gods-above-mortals attitude, with a snarky yet jovial tint, but he is unequivocally heroic as a mentor for Earthrealm's warriors as well as the realm's protector, which would become his role in the games.
  • Adaptational Modesty:
  • Adaptational Nationality: Kano went from being Japanese-American to Australian. The popularity of Kano's depiction led to his nationality being retconned in the games, Ironically, Trevor Goddard, Kano's actor, was actually English.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the film, the only extent of Goro being any kind of Noble Demon was him showing disgust towards Kano. In the novelization, Goro is portrayed as a more honorable character, showing regret over killing Art and after his defeat, even Johnny feels sympathy for him.
  • Adaptational Personality Change:
    • In the games, Liu Kang fought in the tournament for no other reason than to save the world and was the most unambiguously heroic of the protagonists. In the film, he suffers from a case of It Sucks to Be the Chosen One, having quit the Shaolin Temple before the events of the film. His only motivation to enter the tournament is to avenge his brother's death and he doesn't seem as concerned with saving the world, at least at first. He also feels guilty for not saving Chan but overcomes this through Character Development.
    • Raiden is depicted here as snarky, jovial, and a borderline Cloudcuckoolander who laughs at inappropriate moments in contrast to his more serious game counterpart.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Sonya gets one fight to herself, against Kano, which ends with her getting lucky and snapping his neck. Later, Shang Tsung kidnaps her without much of a struggle, and nobody believes she'd actually have a chance against him.
    • Kano is usually treated as a serious threat in the games and is infamous for his laser eye attacksnote  and ripping out people's hearts. Here, he’s easily intimidated by Shang Tsung and Goro, and gets killed before the climax of the movie.
  • Age Lift: Played with. Shang Tsung was depicted as relatively younger in the film in order to avoid the excessive makeup that would have been required to duplicate his aged appearance in the game, but his actual age is left ambiguous.
  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Raiden wears one at the beginning of the film, even though he's played by a white actor. However, despite his physical appearance, his name and role in the film implies that he's the Japanese and/or Chinese god of thunder. Despite the straw hat being a trademark of the character, Raiden only wears it for his initial scene at the Temple of Light and ditches it for the remainder of the film.
  • All There in the Manual: In the novelization of the film, Art Lean is given a bit more backstory, more background appearances, and was potentially the strongest Earthrealm fighter going into the island. However, strength wasn't the only thing that mattered.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: When Shang Tsung drains someone's soul, the body turns blue when he's done.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Liu Kang and Raiden trade these in their first meeting, with Raiden's doubling as an Armor-Piercing Response for throwing Liu Kang's Refusal of the Call and It Sucks to Be the Chosen One mentality right at his face.
    Liu Kang: If you are Raiden...why did you let Chan die? Why didn't you protect him?!
    Raiden: Why didn't you?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Johnny Cage lost his best friend in the tournament to Goro in a match, watched Shang Tsung consume said friend's soul when Goro presented his corpse as tribute, and the Shokan smashed his sunglasses at the start of their fight. It's the last one he brings up right before he kills Goro:
    Johnny Cage: Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole!
  • As You Know:
    • Used believably in the form of a taunt:
      Shang Tsung: ...until we reach the island, where you have no dominion.
      Raiden: My dominions are well known to me, sorcerer! Thank you.
    • Done much more clumsily later on as Shang Tsung explains to Goro, who should know the hierarchy of Outworld as well as the backs of his four hands (he even calls her the Emperor's adopted daughter), about Kitana's importance. Granted, it might have been for Kano's benefit too and he was reiterating why she can't be allowed to just ally with Earthrealm, but it's clear it's info the hiding heroes (and the audience) needs to know:
      Shang Tsung: Princess Kitana is ten thousand years old, and the rightful heir to the throne of Outworld. But she must not be allowed to join the forces of the realm of Earth, especially Liu Kang.
    • And used believably upon Raiden's appearance, since Liu Kang (who apparently has never seen him in person before) clearly doesn't believe this strange-looking man is the protector of Earthrealm.
    Liu Kang: Grandfather, get up! This isn't your god of thunder and lightning! He's just a beggar!
    Grandfather: Spare him, my lord Raiden! American life has...enfeebled his mind! Too much television!
  • Ass Kicking Pose: The heroes assume this in the last shot of the film when Shao Kahn shows up.
  • Audience Surrogate: Johnny asks the obvious questions about the weird world he's suddenly inhabiting:
    If this guy is so powerful, why doesn't he just invade us?
    [after overhearing Shang Tsung warning Goro about Liu Kang] What's so special about you?
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Scorpion's Spear doesn't snare anything successfully and Sub-Zero's frozen barrier takes so long to charge up that it gives Liu Kang all the time he needs to defeat him.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Johnny Cage wears a neat and pressed suit for the fight scene in his in-universe movie. Additionally, when he first gets on the boat, he wears a blazer on top of the green dress shirt and slacks for the rest of this installment.
  • Badass Longcoat: Shang Tsung wears one for most of the movie, taking it off only for his fight with Liu Kang.
  • Badass Normal: The Earthrealm warriors for as long as the tournament has existed; as Raiden explains, the tournament is designed to give humans a chance to fight for their world against realms with greater powers, which keeps them in check so the strongest ones cannot simply invade the less powerful ones at will:
    Sonya: A handful of people on a leaky boat are gonna save the world?
    Raiden: Exactly! The essence of Mortal Kombat is not about death, but life. Mortal men and women defending your own world.
  • 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.
  • Between My Legs: Art Lean meeting Goro before their match.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Sonya refuses to face Shang Tsung in the final battle, he goes to inform the powers that be that Earthrealm will forfeit due to her noncompliance. She claims out loud that her friends will come for her. It's then revealed they're already there, leaving Shang with no escape.
  • Big "NEVER!": Shang Tsung in his fight with Liu Kang.
  • Big "NO!": Both Sonya and Johnny 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.
  • Big "YES!": Raiden when Cage gets his Groin Attack nut-shot on Goro, giving him the early advantage. He also socks the shoulder of a mook and immediately apologizes.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Mild subversion, as the first character shown to die in the film is actually Liu Kang's brother. However, the black fighter Liu Kang fights and defeats is the first combatant to die in the tournament itself after Shang Tsung takes his soul. Additionally, Art is the only named Earthrealm fighter to die in the tournament, though other unnamed fighters lost to Goro.
  • 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: For named characters, Chan Kang and Art Lean.note  For others, there's the unnamed black fighter who is Liu Kang's first opponent and has his soul stolen, and all of Shang's spirit fighters he summons forth in the final fight.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Character Catch Phrase:
    Raiden: I don't think so.
    Shang Tsung: Your Soul Is Mine!.
  • Character Development: Blatantly outlined, but it works well enough as each character had room to grow.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the middle of the movie, Raiden informs the heroes that at any point, Shang Tsung has the right to enter the tournament himself as a former Kombat champion.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Johnny Cage doesn't pretend for a second that his attraction to Sonya is anything but physical, but he'll fight eight feet tall monsters and trek to other dimensions for her.
  • The Chosen One: Liu Kang.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Raiden, who has a penchant for theatrics and laughing at completely inappropriate times, as seen in the page quote.
  • Coconut Superpowers: Goro's formidability, due to him being portrayed by a big, awkward-looking and probably fragile animatronic. When Shang Tsung decides to turn him loose, all we see of most of his fights is his opponent falling to the floor in defeat. The one match we actually do see has Goro and Art mostly standing around while Goro repeatedly punches the guy. When Johnny fights Goro, he wins by entering the match intending to fight dirty and win on a technicality. First by Groin Attack-ing him, then luring Goro up to a cliff and knocking him off, giving Goro very little chance to do anything.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Johnny Cage exhibits this several times in the tournament. During his fight with Scorpion, he takes advantage of his surroundings to perform acrobatics and improvises with the spear and spiked shield. Additionally, during his fight with Goro, he avoids a straight bout in the ring by performing a Groin Attack and taking the rest of the fight to a part of the palace near a cliff.
  • Composite Character: In this movie, Liu Kang is a descendant of the Great Kung Lao. Additionally, he also takes Kung Lao's storyline of entering the tournament to avenge the death of a loved one.
  • Creator Cameo: Scorpion is actually voiced by Ed Boon, co-creator of the Mortal Kombat series.
  • Credits Gag:
    • One of the Kombat Kodes (the ones inputted in the versus screen) for Mortal Kombat 3, also released in 1995, is hidden in the closing credits. There's even a "Play Mortal Kombat 3 at arcades everywhere" message in the credits as well.note 
    • At the end of the credits, "Flawless victory!" is heard.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Shang Tsung vs. Chan. Shang Tsung almost casually blocks everything Chan throws before laying down a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown complete with Finishing Stomp.
    • Sub-Zero vs. random mook. The poor mook doesn't even get a chance to land a hit as Sub-Zero freezes him solid as he goes in for a flying kick and explodes into frozen chunks on smashing into the ground.
    • Liu Kang, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade vs. Shang Tsung's mooks.
    • Every fight Goro participates in prior to fighting Johnny, who delivers one to Goro himself. Especially tragic when Liu, Sonya and Johnny watch this happen to Art Lean, their new friend.
  • Cutting the Knot: After getting his ass kicked by Scorpion, Johnny manages to get a small window of offense, then vaults to a higher platform to create separation. Scorpion just kicks off one of the platform's legs and sends Johnny hurtling all the way to the ground back to him:
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Johnny:
      "I'm in a hostile environment. I'm totally unprepared. And I'm surrounded by a bunch of guys who probably want to kick my ass... it's like being back in high school!"
    • Raiden:
      "The fate of billions will depend upon you. Heh heh heh heh! ...sorry."
    • Raiden again, walking away after telling Johnny and Sonya which of their fears will trip them up:
      Liu: Wait! What about me?
      Raiden: Oh, you.
    • Goro, of all... uh... creatures, gets in on the act as well:
      Kano: I'm kind of an underworld boss. Well... I mean, back home.
      Goro: How lucky for them... back home.
  • Death Glare: Sub-Zero gives a particularly chilling one towards Liu Kang, with his mask suddenly covered in frost, after being knocked to the ground by him.
  • Declaration of Protection: Johnny lets Sonya know that he's challenging Goro so that Goro won't have the chance to kill her. Although she's not happy about this, it eventually leads to her warming up to him.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: When Johnny Cage manages to vanquish Scorpion, the latter's head explodes, quickly followed by the rest of his body.
  • Defiant to the End: Even with Earthrealm in the balance ready to be lost, Sonya refuses to accept Shang Tsung's challenge and give him the satisfaction of her acquiescing. Also, Shang Tsung, who claims that he still owns the souls he possesses even as they're leaving him.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Sub-Zero and Scorpion are two of the most involved characters in the games' mythology from its inception, and yet, they are reduced to being Shang Tsung's muscle with no individual character or backstory of their own.note  The movie all but lampshades this when Shang Tsung introduces them with what amounts to a Hand Wave, saying that they are the "deadliest of enemies, but slaves under my power" and leaves it at that.
    • Jax, who only appears briefly with Sonya during the raid of Kano's club.
  • Deus ex Machina: A rather literal example. When Scorpion and Sub-Zero are about to attack the trio, Rayden shows up and fends them off with lightning bolts, because fighting before the tournament is against the rules.
  • Dirty Coward: Shang Tsung uses every trick in the book to keep Liu Kang from being in a position to win Mortal Kombat, from stacking the tournament against him to fleeing into another realm to nearly violating the kombat rules to force Sonya to face Shang Tsung instead. Even when this is thwarted, he then challenges Johnny before Liu puts an end to the nonsense.
  • Disney Villain Death:
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!:
    Liu: All those souls and you still don't have one of your own. I pity you, sorcerer!
    Shang Tsung: Save your pity for the weak!
  • The Dragon:
    • Goro and Reptile to Shang Tsung.
    • Shang Tsung to Shao Kahn.
  • Dramatic High Perching: Johnny tries this on Scorpion, but Scorpion simply chops down the entire platform.
  • Dramatic Spine Injury: Liu Kang's nightmare of his brother Chan's death at Shang Tsung's hands includes the villain stomping on a fallen Chan's spine, breaking both it and what little fight Chan has left.
  • 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.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Liu, Johnny, and Kitana disguise themselves as Shang Tsung's monks in order to get close enough for a confrontation and save Sonya.
  • Dull Surprise: Kitana. In fairness, she is stated to be 10,000 years old, so almost certainly she has Seen It All.
  • Easter Egg: At the very end of the end credits, you'll hear Shao Kahn's voice from Mortal Kombat II:
    "Excellent! Muhahahaha!! [beat] Flawless victory."
  • Establishing Series Moment: In Liu Kang's dream of his brother's death, Shang Tsung beats Chan in a Bloodless Carnage beatdown with overly loud sound effects, shot in a purple tint and tilted angle. He then looks at the camera to taunt Liu Kang before his face turns into a skull, which causes Liu Kang to wake up. This serves as a clue that the rest of the film lacks the gore that made the games very popular.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Shang Tsung morphs into Chan and tries to use Liu's guilt against him, hearing Chan blame Liu for his death is what finally gives Liu the right state of mind of who is really to blame:
    Liu Kang: No... it wasn't my fault! Chan chose his own path... every man is responsible for his own destiny. SHANG TSUNG KILLED MY BROTHER!
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Throughout the movie, Sonya deals with the unwanted advances of Kano, Shang Tsung and Johnny Cage. She does warm up to Johnny by the end though.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Shang Tsung's Black Tower in Outworld.
  • 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 seen as a fake, and fear to face one's destiny, respectively.
  • Fatal Flaw: As stated by Raiden, each of the main three heroes has one that they must overcome:
    • Johnny is desperate to be seen as a real martial artist, so he rushes into any battle to prove his skills, which is the wrong reason to fight. After Art Lean's death, Johnny finally sees there is much more at stake than his own ego.
    • Sonya is afraid to trust people and ask them for help. It is implied Sonya is like this because of Kano killing her partner.
    • Liu Kang has two. The first is his prioritizing his revenge against Shang Tsung for killing his brother over saving Earth from Outworld. This flaw, however, hides the fact that Liu does feel responsible for his brother's death since Chan actually fought Shang Tsung in his place.
  • 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. This is justified as Sonya was the only one of the main trio whose actress didn't know how to fight and was a last-minute replacement, so necessity demanded that Sonya's fight scenes be kept to a minimum.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Shang Tsung is this, hosting the tournament as if it is a respectable event, talking in polite tones to Raiden and the heroes, but there's no mistaking that all of it is a facade for someone who is evil to the core.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Characters mostly fight with martial arts, either rarely using their special abilities from the games or not at all (this is especially notable in Liu Kang's fight with Sub-Zero where the former doesn't use his fire powers to counter the latter's ice abilities). In some fights, special moves are only be used as a finisher or when one is on the verge of losing and needs to regain the advantage. This isn't even getting into characters like Sonya, Kitana and Kano who seem to lack the powers of their game counterparts.
  • 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".
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The statue's eyes in Outworld glow red when the lizard Reptile fuses with it and becomes a fighter against Liu Kang.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Sonya goes through this after Shang Tsung captures her and takes her to the Outworld:
    Johnny: Nice dress.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Shao Kahn. Or "The Emperor" as the movie just refers to him.
  • Groin Attack: Johnny does the leg splits against Goro, in order to buy him time to lead him to the cliff and kill him. Amusingly, even Goro's nads are tough enough that Johnny hurts his hand doing it! This is especially satisfying since Goro was immune to that particular attack in the game.
  • Guns Are Useless: To make things stick to martial arts but also have the characters do the sensible thing, Sonya does pull her automatic on Scorpion and Sub-Zero, but Sub-Zero freezes it and breaks it in half before she can get off a shot.
  • Guttural Growler: Shao Kahn's cameo at the end sees Frank Welker reuse his Dr. Claw/Soundwave/Darkseid voice for him.
  • Harmless Freezing: Completely averted, in stark contrast with the source material. Sub-Zero's ice powers are treated as a devastatingly lethal One-Hit KO. When he resorts to them in his fight with Liu Kang, the latter has to quickly find a way to turn the tables.
  • Held Gaze: Liu Kang and Kitana hold several, including the first time they see each other, which does not go unnoticed:
    Johnny: You know, when a woman looks at you like that, it usually means something.
  • Here We Go Again!: The end of the film.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Sub-Zero is impaled when Liu Kang throws water into his ice barrier, turning it into a giant icicle.
    • Shang Tsung is sent onto the spikes he himself raised at the end of the battle with Liu Kang.
  • How Did We Get Back Home?: Twice: when Johnny somehow escapes Scorpion's dimension, and at the end when the heroes somehow escape Outworld.
  • How Do You Say: Shang Tsung pulls this when telling Raiden that Johnny's challenge of Goro and deal with Shang Tsung is binding:
    Shang Tsung: Too late, Lord Raiden. The rules are quite clear. It' do you say...'a deal's a deal'.
  • Human Aliens: Most of the non-protagonists, namely, Shang Tsung, Kitana, Liu Kang's first opponent, and the generic mooks. 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.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Liu Kang calling Raiden a "simple beggar."
    • Liu Kang saying "Flawless Victory" against Shang Tsung.
    • When Sonya tries to radio for backup:
      Johnny: While you're at it, why don't you call my agent?
      Sonya: Do I look like your secretary?
      (a few minutes later)
      Sonya: Where are we?
      Johnny: Do I look like your travel agent?
    • During Johnny's intro fight, to a "mook" who turns out to be an extra in the scene he's filming. Later repeated to Goro as he's hanging off a cliff:
  • It's All My Fault: This is how Liu Kang feels about his brother Chan's death. When Shang tries to use a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip on him by transforming into Chan, Liu finally accepts that Shang and Shang alone is the one who killed Chan and that his brother at the end made his own choices.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Why Liu left home; he couldn't bear the responsibility of saving Earthrealm to the point that he grew cynical about the whole prophecy. His brother being killed gives him enormous guilt about abandoning home and he initially only enters the tournament to get revenge on Shang Tsung, which Raiden warns will only bring an end to him and the world.
  • Kick the Dog: Shang Tsung's finishing stomp on poor Chan (while he was down, no less) is a pretty early indicator of his ruthlessness, even before he starts taking souls. And then there's what he does to Art Lean after Goro kills him.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The villains love this: Shang Tsung does it to Chan, Kano does it to Sonya, and Scorpion does it to Johnny.
  • Lancer vs. Dragon: Johnny Cage serves as the lancer and comedic foil to Liu Kang. Johnny also fights one of the last tournament matches against Goro, Shang Tsung's monstrous enforcer, and tricks him into plunging off a cliff to his death.
  • Large and in Charge: Goro is this throughout the movie until Johnny defeats him. The animatronic suit that was created specifically for him emphasizes this even more.
  • Large Ham: Every talking bad guy, and Raiden when he's not snarking. There's even some three-way Ham-to-Ham Combat with Kano, Goro, and Shang Tsung in the banquet hall.
  • Leitmotif: Kitana has one of wooden flutes during her initial scenes before making contact with the heroes.
  • Lighter and Softer: Due to the PG-13 rating, the game's infamous trademark violence and gore isn't present in the film. Tropes Are Not Bad, though; the lack of gratuitous violence resulted in the filmmakers relying more on story and characterization, which worked out so well that much of it would make its way into the games proper. And even without the bloodshed, the fight sequences are still legitimately good.
  • Literal Cliff Hanger: Goro is left clinging to a platform at the end of his fight with Johnny. Eventually, he does lose his grip and falls to his death. The novelization portrays the scene differently: in the film, Johnny snarks, "This is where you fall down," just before Goro loses his grip, but in the novelization, Johnny offers his hand to help Goro back onto more solid ground. Goro, however, refuses and falls to his death willingly rather than acquiesce in any fashion to his opponent.
  • Living Statue: Reptile spends most of his time as a lizard creature, but after he lands on one of the Outworld statues, the statue absorbs him and it transforms into Reptile's more traditional green ninja look.
  • Loophole Abuse: Shang Tsung uses Johnny's offer to subvert the tournament structure, in combination with his championship right to enter the tournament, to essentially force Sonya to fight him for the right to Earthrealm in an attempt to lock out Liu Kang. It doesn't work because, as they all realize, both participants have to agree to fight, so all Sonya has to do is refuse until Liu and the others show up. Then he tries summoning some of the souls inside him to team-up on Liu Kang. It technically works, but Liu Kang wins anyway.
  • Lots of Luggage:
    • Johnny brings several large suitcases to the dock for the trip to the tournament. After asking Liu Kang to carry them onboard, Liu dumps one suitcase into the bay:
      Johnny Cage: (after watching his luggage sink) Huh. Thank God I didn't ask him to park the car.
    • Upon landing at the island, Johnny, weighed down by all his luggage, faceplants right into the water when he tries to disembark, and then, as the tournament participants are climbing a humongous staircase, he falls and drops a couple of bags, prompting Liu to ask "Do you need help with those?"
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: In this movie, Scorpion's "Spear" move is a snake-like creature that shoots out of a slit in his palm.
  • 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.
  • Masked Villains, Unmasked Heroes: Shang Tsung's minions — Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Reptile — all wear masks. The heroes have their faces uncovered.
  • Mook Chivalry: Inverted, though not on purpose. When Reptile attacks Liu Kang, Johnny, who was standing not thirty feet away, conveniently remains offscreen instead of helping. This is because Johnny's actor wasn't present when they filmed the scene, but it stands out as a bizarre choice nonetheless.
  • Mordor: The film's depiction of Outworld.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Liu Kang and Johnny Cage. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's buff Shang Tsung references the second game's younger version of the character, although he's much older than MKII's 19-year-old 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.
  • My Favorite Shirt:
    Johnny: Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole.
  • My Greatest Failure: Liu feels enormous guilt over abandoning home, leaving him unable to protect his brother from Shang Tsung. Raiden lets him know that Liu cannot possess the strength to win if he cannot absolve himself and let it go, and that Chan made his own way as should he.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: "I am Liu Kang, descendant of Kung Lao!"
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the aftermath to the Johnny vs. Scorpion battle, there's a headshot photo signed "To my greatest fan" landing in the debris, a nod to Johnny's Friendship in MK2.
    • Reptile is "hidden" in the dark background of Outworld, where in the first game he's also a hidden boss character.
    • The spiked floor in the film's final battle is a reference to the the spike-filled Pit where the losing fighter falls and gets impaled onto.
    • Just before the final battle, Shang Tsung summons several mooks to fight Liu Kang, mirroring the grueling Endurance battles in the first game before fighting the final bosses.
    • Sonya being captured and chained to a pillar is the character's exact predicament in Shao Kahn's arena from the second game.
    • Sub-Zero and Scorpion's rivalry was briefly mentioned by Shang Tsung upon their introduction, saying they are "deadliest of enemies".
    • Kitana warns Liu Kang that before he can fight Shang Tsung, "you must face your enemy. You must face yourself. And you must face your greatest fear." "Face your enemy" becomes three mooks, and while "face yourself" alludes to the first game's Mirror Matches (one of the final fights before facing Shang Tsung), technology at the time wouldn't have convincingly let Robin Shou fight Robin Shou, so it transforms into Shang Tsung attemping a Breaking Speech, with Liu Kang responding with a Shut Up, Hannibal! "Face your greatest fear" also alludes to the Mirror Matches, with Shang Tsung shapeshfiting into Liu Kang's brother and attempting to weaken his resolve ("Shang Tsung shapeshifted" is a common theory as to how you can fight yourself in a Mirror Match, and the challenge of facing someone who knows everything you do is moved from a physical challenge to an emotional one).
    • Many times, the series catchphrase "Flawless Victory" is uttered at the end of a fight. In almost all of these circumstances, the losing kombatants manages to get at least three hits in on their opponents. Getting hit once already disqualifies the win as "flawless" if we're going by the games' rules. Ironically, Johnny's win against Goro, which is the one actual Flawless Victory in the movie, isn't acknowledged as such.
  • Nice to the Waiter: While Johnny assuming that Liu was a porter, apparently simply because he was Asian, was pretty boneheaded of him, he DID give him a pretty generous tip and seemingly brushed off his luggage getting dumped into the harbor with nothing more than a shrug and a quip.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Shang Tsung gains the upper hand in the final fight, he snidely calls Liu Kang the "Chosen One". Immediately, this gives Liu Kang the confidence and acceptance of his destiny that he is the Chosen One, enabling him to win.
  • Noble Demon: Goro. Emphasized in the novelization, particularly the scenes where he feels bad about killing Art and accepts his fate at Johnny's hands, but still present in the movie with his disgust at Kano's loutish personality.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The director of the movie Johnny Cage is starring in bears a resemblance to Steven Spielberg. In fact, Spielberg was supposed to make a cameo, but wasn't available.
  • No Immortal Inertia: Upon being impaled in the climax, Shang Tsung rapidly ages into a withered corpse as he dies.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Sub-Zero's facial expression when he sees a huge icicle coming towards him during his fight with Liu Kang.
    • The way Art Lean immediately stops his pre-match warmup when Goro walks up, and again right when Goro's about to kill him.
    • Liu Kang when Shang Tsung morphs back into himself and attacks ("You're mine!")
    • The heroes get one in the end when Shao Kahn comes knocking.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Most of Shang Tsung's minions in the final battle go down from a simple kick or two.
  • Only I Can Kill Him: When Sonya is abducted, Raiden tells the other two heroes that only Liu is capable of defeating Shang Tsung.
  • Orchestra Hit Techno Battle: The infamous titular theme song from The Immortals. Also, "Control" from Traci Lords during the fight scene with Reptile.
  • Perpetual Frowner: One review mocked Sonya for just having two acting volumes, angry and furious.
  • Pirates Vs Ninjas: Scorpion and Sub-Zero being under the mental control of Shang Tsung was done to stem the arguments of fans of the two most popular characters in the series.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Johnny, and he's also a very skilled fighter.
  • 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 combatant until the final boss fight, instead advising others. A similar theme shows up in Defenders of the Realm, in which Raiden typically stays in his Batcave.
    • Scorpion's Bloody Spear in the games is a kunai on a rope, but it doesn't look or function anything like a kunai-and-rope combo would in real life. The film changed it to a snake-like creature hidden in his palm to better represent the move from the games.
    • Shang Tsung in the original game is a decrepit old man. In II, he's been physically rejuvenated to be about 19. The film went for a middle ground and cast Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who turned 44 during filming.
    • Johnny Cage is Heroic Neutral in the original game, The Lancer to Liu Kang in the sequel, and never really shows any arrogance or comic timing. The film made him a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a massive ego, changed his friendship with Liu Kang to Fire-Forged Friends, and gave him Belligerent Sexual Tension with Sonya. The new personality was so well-received that this was also adapted into the games.
    • Sub-Zero and Scorpion are Demoted to Extra, becoming Shang Tsung's henchmen in order to streamline the plot and focus more closely on the three protagonists.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Johnny gets a couple:
    "Alright, let's dance."
    "Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole!"
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • The finish to the fight between Sonya and Kano:
      Kano: (while Sonya is holding his head in a leg-lock) No, Sonya, don't! C'mon, gimme a break!
      Sonya: Okay. (breaks Kano's neck with her legs)
    • And later (edging into Bond One-Liner territory, as Goro is already barely hanging onto the edge of a cliff):
      Johnny: This is where you fall down.
  • Proscenium Reveal: 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.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Goro. Emphasized in the novelization to make him a bit more sympathetic, downplayed but still present in the movie.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I can see into your soul. You. Will. Die."
  • Race Lift: Raiden is curiously white for an Asian deity. Maybe that's partially why Liu Kang refused to believe he's the real deal and just a "beggar".
  • Recruiters Always Lie: How Johnny got into the tournament thanks to his old instructor, who's actually Shang Tsung in disguise:
    "Come to a little tournament, he said. Good for the career, he said. Yeah, right..."
  • Refusal of the Call: Liu Kang did this before the movie starts, not wanting to take up the mantle as Earthrealm's greatest hope and running off to America. His brother decided to step up instead and got killed for it, bringing him guilt that he tries to project into vengeance rather than fulfilling his destiny.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In this movie, Liu Kang's ancestor is The Great Kung Lao, who was Kung Lao’s ancestor in the games.
  • Revenge: What fuels all three protagonists, much to Raiden's chagrin: Sonya avenging her partner on Kano, Liu avenging Chan on Shang Tsung, and eventually Johnny avenging Art Lean on Goro. Raiden's main task in the movie is to get them to fight for the right reasons instead of their selfish ones:
    Raiden: That's why you left the temple and ran away, isn't it? The Great Tournament was too much responsibility. But vengeance... that's so much simpler.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Liu Kang is the descendant of the Great Kung Lao in this movie. This change was later made canon in the games. Sort of.
  • 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. He does play it straight once Shang Tsung releases him into the tournament.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Raiden after Liu Kang, Johnny and Sonya beat up Shang Tsung's mooks:
    Raiden: Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. So tell me...what do you plan to do about...them? (cut to more mooks ready to charge)
  • Scenery Porn: The set designs are gorgeous, especially the Cage vs. Scorpion fight.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Johnny basically puts an end to the tournament himself by offering a deal with Tsung to face Goro, to which Tsung offers a subsequent stipulation that he could face anyone he chooses for the final fight. Raiden acts appalled at this at first, but once Johnny walks away, he shows a pleased nature at Cage's fortitude:
    Raiden: What have you done?
    Johnny: I made a choice. This is our tournament, remember? Mortal Kombat. We fight it. *leaves*
    Raiden: *chuckles* Good. At last, one of them has understood.
  • Sequel Hook: Merges right into a cliffhanger.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Shang tries this by morphing into Chan. Although Liu knows this isn't really Chan (Shang morphed right in front of him), he's hesitant to attack until he hears Shang!Chan saying he forgives Liu for letting him die. Although Liu blamed himself for Chan's death, he knew that Chan wouldn't, as confirmed by Raiden earlier. This makes Liu call out Shang Tsung, who morphs back.
  • She Will Come for Me: Sonya's story arc completes when she is imprisoned by Shang Tsung. She refuses to indulge in Shang Tsung's gambit for her to face him for Earthrealm, claiming that her friends will come for her, a 180 from the self-reliant character she was at the start. Her faith is rewarded:
    Sonya: My friends will come!
    Johnny: *removes monk's hood* They're already here.
  • Shout-Out: To Enter the Dragon; like the character Roper in that movie, Johnny has a bunch of luggage that he brings with him to the tournament, but here, nobody helps him and he loses almost all of it trying to carry it himself.
  • Smug Snake: Shang Tsung. This ranges from him taunting Liu Kang just before he kills Chan to taking Art's soul.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the novelization, Sonya doesn't go through with killing Kano and arrests him instead.
  • Sparing the Final Mook: Subverted during Johnny Cage's Establishing Character Moment. Cage gets into a fight with a whole group of mooks and beats them until there's just one left. He lands a couple of blows on the last one, then tells him "This is the part where you fall down", making it seem like he's telling the outclassed last mook to just give up and not take any more of a beating. However, the actual reason is that they're shooting a scene on a movie set, and the last guy missed his cue to fall, ruining the take.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Sonya is completely subdued by a hammerlock from Shang Tsung. At least he bothered with the hammerlock instead of just dragging her by the arm, though.
  • Sudden Video-Game Moment: Before their fight starts, Liu Kang and Sub-Zero briefly take stances (albeit totally different from their ones in the game) in front of each other while seen from their sides at the same time, in a way that screams "Round 1! Fight!". Also, the first part of the fight is done in a single horizontal line, like a common 2D fighting game.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Downplayed compared to the original game. For most of the movie, only the villains (Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and Shang Tsung) exhibit any supernatural powers. Only at the very end does a hero — Liu Kang — reveal the fire-based power that he had in the game.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Surprisingly, Goro's fight with Johnny Cage. While Goro is a centuries old champion and undefeated, he is no doubt used to fighting honorable, noble fighters. So when he encounters a fighter who is willing to fight dirty, Goro is unprepared for it and falls for a cheap shot to the nuts, following Johnny up the cliff, falling for a hit from behind, and being knocked off the ledge.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Johnny's attitude in his opening scene. His movie's fight scene is ruined by an inept stuntman, and as he storms off the set, his ranting makes it clear that he's had to deal with all kinds of incompetence in his current project.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: In the novelization, Goro, who is portrayed more as an honorable Proud Warrior Race Guy, shows this to Art Lean just before he obeys Shang Tsung's command to kill him.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In their one scene together Goro looks like he's seconds away from ripping Kano's head off while Kano in turn looks scared out of his wits. But hey, when Shang Tsung says "jump"...
  • Terror Hero: Shang Tsung makes no secret to his own allies that Liu Kang is their most serious threat, and ducks Liu at every opportunity until he is forced to face him.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The look on Art's face when he's squaring up against Goro makes it clear that the poor guy knows exactly how screwed he is.
  • 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 over a bottomless drop.
  • 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.
  • Token Trio: Liu Kang is Chinese, Johnny Cage is white, and Sonya is white and female.
  • Tranquil Fury: Johnny when he decides to fight Goro.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • In his opening scene, Liu dismisses Raiden as a beggar... until he takes up Raiden's challenge to strike him, which ends Raiden effortlessly flooring Liu.
    • Goro dismisses Liu and Johnny as inconsequential weaklings. The former defeats Sub-Zero, Reptile and Shang Tsung. The latter kills Scorpion and Goro himself as retribution for killing Johnny's friend Art Lean.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Johnny sees a ninja summon ice and literally shatter a mook to pieces, and his response is to crack wise to Art. In his defense, he'd already seen it earlier in the day, though not the full extent of it.
  • [Verb] This!: During their fight, Kano taunts Sonya, "Give it up, baby. I've studied all your moves." She replies "Yeah, study this!" and kicks him in the stomach.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Johnny, Liu and Sonya slowly become friends, but none of them are above mocking each other.
  • The Voiceless: Sub-Zero never speaks, while Scorpion only says his catchphrases, "Get over here!" and "Come here!" (and "Get down here!").
  • Warrior vs. Sorcerer: The film's climactic battle is between martial artist and ex-monk Liu Kang and Evil Sorcerer Shang Tsung. While Shang Tsung does have some skill in martial arts, he resorts to using magic and trickery once it becomes clear he cannot take Liu Kang in a fair fight.
  • The Watcher: Raiden is forced to be this, as he can give advice but not interfere per Elder God law.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The remaining human fighters. After Johnny sets up the fight with Goro, they're never seen or mentioned again. Shang Tsung implies there were still more fights to be had before Goro fought Johnny.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: OK, so a Shaolin monk journeys to a hidden island to compete in a tournament held by the island's owner, with the tournament a front for the owner's sinister goal. Once there, he becomes friends with a few other fighters, all there for their own reasons, and faces off against the owner's henchmen while trying to get to the bottom of his nefarious scheme. While adding some supernatural elements, the film takes about 90% of its plot points and cues from Enter the Dragon, just slotting in its own characters.
  • World of Snark: Setting the tone for action-fantasy movies to come, we get quips from all but the most humorless (Kitana) and the least vocal (Scorpion, Sub-Zero).
  • 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.
  • Your Head Asplode: Happens to Scorpion as part of his death. Then the rest of his body goes with him.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: Shang Tsung says this to defeated opponents just before he takes their souls.

Alternative Title(s): Mortal Kombat 1995



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