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Pet Sins January 2000

Mortal Kombat

This is a review of the movie, not the cartoon series, TV series or video game.

Two Mortal Kombat movies were spawned from the successful Nintendo video game of the same name. The storyline of the video game involves a group of warriors from various realms who fight against evil forces intent on occupying the earth realm.

The first Mortal Kombat movie takes from the plot of Enter the Dragon, the well-known American kungfu classiv starring Bruce Lee. As in Enter the Dragon, Mortal Kombat's good guys board a ship bound for an island. The ship takes them to a tournament sponsored by an evil East Asian lord.

In a scene lifted right out of Enter the Dragon, the European American hero (in this case the character Johnny Cage) sees the East Asian hero (in this case the character Liu Kang) boarding this ship. Johnny assumes Liu is a porter (presumably because of race) and hands him his luggage with a tip. Liu immediately dumps Johnny's stuff into the sea. Asian dignity is asserted - a rare thing in American films where Asians are usually houseboys, sidekicks or sex slaves.

The central character of the story is Liu Kang, the Asian. In Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Liu Kang slays the evil Emperor, played by a white guy, in the final duel. This is again a refreshing change from American Oriental-themed movies like Showdown in Little Tokyo or Taipan, which usually feature the white man beating Asians at their own game, with the pre-requisite death match between an Oriental villain and the white hero.

Another refreshing thing is the Asian guy (played by Robin Shou) gets the Asian girl, Princess Kitana (played by Talisa Soto). This is certainly a welcome break from all the white-male-fantasy-dictated movies like Year of the Dragon or The Hunted, which capitalize on white-male-Oriental-female couplings to draw viewers.