Mortal Kombat was the genre debut of director Paul Anderson, who has remained a regular contributor since (see below for Paul Andersons other films). Anderson leaves hardly any breathing space between the battles to slip any plot in and even then that has largely been borrowed from the premise of Enter the Dragon (1973). The brain rarely engages but this is not a film that makes even the slightest pretence that that is why one is there. One cannot criticise Mortal Kombat for providing exactly what it is that it has set out to do the bonus is that the film is so much fun. Paul Anderson was one of the first Western directors to start adopting the wild balletic moves of Hong Kong fantastique cinema, something that became widespread after the amazing success of The Matrix (1999) a few years later. The effects are impressive with the various kombatants wielding lightning bolts and forcefields and dealing with three-meter tall four-armed opponents, invisible creatures and zombies manifesting animated tentacles. The film moves like lightning and is entirely enjoyable.
The three leads are anonymous Bridgette Wilson looks all of about 19 and far too young to be a season Special Forces lieutenant. Christopher Lambert, the biggest name present, plays to the extent of his limited range. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa has the most fun, getting into the villainy with relish. The most annoying aspect of the film is the downbeat epilogue, which clearly sets everything up for a sequel.
There was a sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), as well as an animated tv series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1995), a short-lived live-action tv series Mortal Kombat: Conquest (1998-9) and more recently a live-action tv series revival Mortal Kombat: Legacy (2011). A further cinematic sequel has been announced numerous times, although has yet to go into production.
Director Paul Anderson had previously debuted with the British crime thriller Shopping (1994). All of Andersons subsequent films have remained within the genre, although Mortal Kombat is the most plainly enjoyable of these. His other films include the very silly haunted spaceship effort Event Horizon (1997), which survived solely through dint of Andersons atmosphere; the programmed-soldier film Soldier (1998), which was an expensive flop; the tv movie The Sight (2000) about a haunted hotel; a further videogame adaptation, Resident Evil (2002); AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004); Death Race (2008); Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010); a remake of The Three Musketeers (2011); Resident Evil: Retribution (2012); the non-genre disaster movie Pompeii (2014); and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016). Anderson has also written and produced Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), and produced the horror film The Dark (2005), another videogame adaptation DOA: Dead or Alive (2006), the sf film Pandorum (2009), Death Race 2 (2010) and Death Race 3: Inferno (2012). Anderson should not be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), There Will Be Blood (2007) and The Master (2012) fame. On his later films, this Paul Anderson has taken to listing himself as Paul W.S. Anderson to avoid confusion.
Subsequent video/computer game screen adaptations include Wing Commander (1999), Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2001), Resident Evil (2002), House of the Dead (2003), Alone in the Dark (2005), BloodRayne (2005), Doom (2005), DOA: Dead or Alive (2006), Silent Hill (2006), Hitman (2007), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), Postal (2007), Far Cry (2008), Max Payne (2008), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), Tekken (2010), Angry Birds (2016), Assassins Creed (2016) and Warcraft (2016).
(Nominee for Best Special Effects at this sites Best of 1995 Awards).