Ah, the 1990s. What a time to be a gamer. Sega and Nintendo were at war with one another, while over in arcades, every kid was dumping their entire allowance into a fighting game known as Mortal Kombat. Created by programmer Ed Boon and graphics designer John Tobias, along with help from martial artist Daniel Pesina and other talented expert fighters from the Chicago area, they created a fighting game phenomenon. Decked out in over-the-top blood and gore and complete with a Shaw Brothers kung fu movie aesthetic, Mortal Kombat caused a stir with concerned parents everywhere. Eventually, this resulted in the birth of the Games Rating system better known as the E-S-R-B.
Not only did Mortal Kombat and its sequels dominate arcades everywhere, but they put up staggering numbers on home systems. This massive success caught the attention of producer Lawrence Kasanoff and New Line Cinema. They were betting that those game sales could translate into box office gold, which led to the release of the Mortal Kombat movie in 1995 directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. The movie exceeded expectations after breaking records at the box office for a video game adaptation, opening at number one with $23 million dollars. It continued to slay the competition by staying number one for three straight weeks and finishing its theatrical run with $122 million dollars worldwide against a $20-million-dollar budget. Critics were divided on the film, but the guy with the thumbs, Roger Ebert, really enjoyed the film. More importantly, the fans ate it up!
After its sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation landed flat on its ass, the Mortal Kombat film franchise went dormant for many years after failing to find cinematic success, that is until 2021 with the release of the Mortal Kombat reboot directed by Simon McQuoid. This reboot once again divided critics, but it performed quite well for an R-rated movie released during the pandemic, which also had a day-and-date release on HBOMax. It opened to $22 million dollars and finished its run with $83 million dollars total on a $50 million dollar budget. Something to note though, it became the number one streamed movie for HBOMax’s opening weekend day-and-date release strategy, beating out the Snydercut, Dune, Godzilla vs Kong, and even Bugs f’ing Bunny. Since 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the original game, it’s only appropriate that we here at JoBlo pit these two films to the DEATH. So only one question remains: which of these two bloody titans of video game movies will walk away with the Flawless Victory? You know it’s time for: FACE OFF – Original vs Remake edition!
This episode of Face Off is written by Jay St-Germain, narrated by Shawn Knippelberg, and edited by Jay St-Germain. Let us know in the comments which you prefer – the original Mortal Kombat or its reboot! Check out other episodes below!