When it comes to the fighting genre, Mortal Kombat is without a doubt one of the top series of all time. Ever since the early arcade and console days of the nineties, MK has captured fans’ attention with its unique characters, deep lore, and bloody and addicting combat. It wasn’t long before the film industry wanted in on the action, and two films were released; one being well received, and the other essentially killing any chance of a third.
The 2021 Mortal Kombat movie marks a turning point for the franchise as it relates to film. With tons of variety in both character moves and settings, Mortal Kombat‘s most recent adaptation is driven by its fight scenes, each of which are memorable and endlessly entertaining.
10 Liu Kang Vs. Kabal – Mortal Kombat (2021)
Liu Kang is one of the most famous heroic characters in the franchise, a warrior that was essentially the main character of the 90’s Mortal Kombat films. In the 2021 movie, he is introduced as an already-established warrior training under Lord Raiden, helping others channel their powers.
It was surprising, then, that his only main fight in the film is with Kabal, a character not known as being very beloved. His costume design and powers are represented very well in the film, however, and the two battle twice, with the second ending in Liu Kang finishing him off with his famous dragon Animality, setting Kabal on the fire.
9 Jax & Sonya Blade Vs. Cyrax – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
Annihilation, an MK film infamous for being generally terrible, is still regarded as a fun film for fans of the series, as it is jam-packed with characters and fights. Near the start of the film, Jax is introduced in a research lab, having just had his metallic arms installed.
Sonya helps him to get his bearings so they can escape when suddenly Cyrax, a yellow-armored cyborg, explodes into the room in glorious slo-mo. The ensuing fight is complete with cheesy choreography, bad CGI, and glorious techno music, and it ends with a hilarious green-screen explosion as Jax and Sonya dive to avoid his explosion. It’s part of what makes Annihilation so fun to return to as a series fan despite its underwhelming qualities.
8 Kano, Sonya Blade & Cole Young Vs. Reptile – Mortal Kombat (2021)
Kano, who goes on to steal every scene he’s in, is introduced to Cole Young as a prisoner of Sonya’s while she briefs Cole on the history of the Mortal Kombat tournament. During their exchange, a cloaked entity sneaks into their hideout, who ends up being the creature-form of Reptile, a character mostly known by his ninja form, but who also sometimes is portrayed as the former. He slashes Kano’s face and spews poisonous venom everywhere, destroying the room as Sonya and Cole try to take him down.
Kano uses the venom to free himself from his chains, and using a flare, locates Reptile, and performs a fatality on him by punching through his body and tearing out his heart. The character of Kano is firmly on display, as he exclaims, “Kano wins!” while grinning and holding his bloody trophy.
7 Liu Kang Vs. Reptile – Mortal Kombat (1995)
Liu Kang and Johnny Cage enter Outworld to pursue Shang Tsung, who has kidnapped Sonya Blade when Liu suddenly catches Reptile following them. Originally in his creature form, the being merges with a statue to become the ninja form of Reptile, who kicks Liu through a wall into a pillared dungeon.
This fight is one of the best in the film in terms of pure stunt work, as both actors kick, punch, and toss each other around the arena. Robin Shou, who played Liu Kang, revealed in an interview an injury he received when he was thrown into a pillar in this scene, which can be seen in the final cut of the film.
6 Kung Lao Vs. Nitara – Mortal Kombat (2021)
Neither of these characters had been portrayed in the films until 2021’s Mortal Kombat, with Kung Lao making a grand entrance as he backs up his close friend Liu Kang during an ambush. Nitara, however, is a very one-note character, introduced by Shang Tsung briefly and then appearing again during the assault on Raiden’s temple.
As Nitara taunts Kung Lao with her screeching as she flies around, Kung Lao leaps onto her as she flies by, steering her towards his trademark metal hat, which is spinning furiously like a saw blade. What results is a gory fatality that sees Nitara sliced down the middle and Kung Lao declaring a “flawless victory.”
5 Johnny Cage Vs. Goro – Mortal Kombat (1995)
In another quick but memorable battle, Johnny Cage is paired up against prince Goro, a fearsome four-limbed warrior and current champion of the tournament. Cage approaches wearing trendy sunglasses, which Goro arrogantly crushes in his hand. What follows is Cage’s iconic splits punch, where he comedically smashes Goro below the belt.
Seeing the formidable villain grab his groin in pain as Cage shakes his fist in pain is hilarious, and Goro chases him through a cave. Cage says one of the best lines in the film—”those were five hundred dollar sunglasses, a**hole”—before knocking Goro off a cliff, where he dangles before losing his grip and falling to his death.
4 Liu Kang Vs. Shao Kahn – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
The emperor of the Underworld, Shao Kahn, is one of the most iconic villains in gaming, but he is portrayed in a very over-the-top hammy fashion in Annihilation. The actor clearly had a ball playing the character with his hammy vocal delivery, and, when Kahn and Liu Kang face off during the climax of the film, both actors go all out and embrace the chaos of the battle.
It even features both characters transforming through their Animalities, with Liu as a dragon and Khan as a hydra. The bad CGI results in a so-bad-it’s-good battle, and, when both return to their human forms, they are joined by the elder gods who proclaim that the fate of the universe will be decided in Mortal Kombat – which cues the movie’s iconic theme song. Whether fans hate the film or love it, they can’t deny how entertaining this finale is.
3 Sub-Zero Vs. Scorpion – Mortal Kombat (2021)
By far one of the most iconic pairings in the series history is that of Sub-Zero and Scorpion. In the opening moments of the 2021 film, Hanzo Hasashi and his family are attacked by Bi-Han, an assassin of the Lin Kuei clan. The ensuing awesome battle ends with Hanzo dying and reincarnating in Hell as Scorpion, an undead warrior.
Bi-Han eventually becomes Sub-Zero, and the two reunite in the film’s final epic battle. Longtime fans have so much to love here, as iconic moves such as Scorpion’s spear is utilized and his iconic “Get over here!” catchphrase, along with Sub-Zero’s move where he freezes a copy of himself as a decoy. Cole eventually joins the fight, which ends with Scorpion performing his famous fire-breathing fatality on Sub-Zero.
2 Liu Kang Vs. Shang Tsung – Mortal Kombat (1995)
Robin Shou’s performance as Liu Kang is one of the best parts of the 90s films, and right there with him is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung. Everything about his portrayal, from his villainous expressions to his perfect delivery of lines, is what makes the 1995 film hold up so well.
When Liu finally faces him during the final battle of the film, the two fighters prepare to face off as the epic theme song kicks in. Along with several resurrected fighters that Tsung uses as a distraction, he also morphs into Liu’s dead brother, who Tsung kills at the start of the film. As he tries to convince Liu to join him, spikes raise from the ground below, and Liu stops the charade as Tsung transforms back. Liu eventually emerges victorious as he viciously beats Tsung over the edge and onto the spikes—a worthy ending for the perfectly cast villain.
1 Johnny Cage Vs. Scorpion – Mortal Kombat (1995)
This fight has easily become an all-time fan favorite in any action film, with Johnny Cage encountering Scorpion in a tree-lined forest. Appearing like a horror movie villain, Scorpion unleashes his iconic spear at Cage, who dodges it through the trees. Cage unleashes his series-classic shadow kick move at Scorpion, who teleports them into a hellish dungeon filled with skeletal remains.
“Welcome,” Scorpion growls as he stands behind Cage, and the two duke it out on a rickety walkway. After knocking Cage into a pile of skulls and bones, Scorpion pulls away his face to reveal his demonic skull and attempts to roast Cage with his fire breath fatality. Cage uses a shield and spear nearby to defend himself and attack Scorpion, resulting in a fiery, explosive death, and a closing shot of a flaming autographed photo of Cage, a reference to his fatality in the games.
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