Paul W.S. Anderson’s Mortal Kombat (1995) is arguably the best video game adaptation ever produced by Hollywood...
...What Anderson did in that first film was he absolutely got what made the mythos behind Netherealm Studio’s arcade hit work for the general film going audience. It had the fights. It had the characters. It had effects that were mind blowing at the time. It also gave us one of the most recognizable techno hits of the 90’s with The Immortals - Techno Syndrome. With all of these positives, a reboot of Mortal Kombat has a long way to go to live up to the icon that was the 1995 film. However, it is universally agreed that while the original was great, it was missing one key thing from the video games: FATALITIES!
Enter Director Simon McQuid, Screenwriter Greg Russo, and Executive Producer James Wan, and that formula guarantees one thing: The reboot is going to be a brutal film. McQuid and Russo have stated over and over during the production that fatalities will be a big part of the upcoming film to the point they faced pushback from censors to tone down the violence. Fatalities date back to the very first Mortal Kombat game in 1992. In the aftermath of Street Fighter II’s success in the arcades, creators Ed Boon and John Tabias collaborated on a fighting game. While programing the end of the fight where the opponent would be dizzy, originally the winner was just to get a free final hit. Boon recalls one of the programmers saying “Wouldn’t it be great if you could just tear their heart out?” Thus Fatalities were born and the video game world would change forever.
With fatalities and the violence being one of the key delineation points for the filmmakers of the 2021 film, it only makes sense to go back into the Mortal Kombat legacy and pick out the best and unique fatalities the series has had to offer. Here are My Top 10 Fatalities in the MK Series (Oh yes, even MK: Sub-Zero Mythologies and Special Forces were examined…god help me.)
LETS FINISH THEM!
HONORABLE MENTION: THE PIT (ALMOST EVERY MK GAME)
You can’t talk Mortal Kombat without The Pit coming up at least once. Easily the Pit from MK1 forward is one of those that most of the fans are expecting to make an appearance in one way or another. The first game threw you right into it as all you had to do was upper cut your opponent and watch them fall into the spikes. It was accessible and brutal, but satisfying for a first timer. As the series progressed, it only got more elaborate. From spikes, to throwing an opponent into bubbling acid or a high speed fan, The Pit has made it’s mark on the Mortal Kombat Legacy!
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r6741rtgVU
#10: CYRAX’S CHEST GRINDER – MORTAL KOMBAT: DEADLY ALLIANCE
Cyrax up to this point had kind been a joke. Even a majority of the fanbase dubbed him as Robo-Scorpion. With this fatality, it definitely earned a bit more respect for a character that could have a giant arm come out and bash your lifeless body on the ground. To make matters more embarrassing, he takes your body and grinds you in his chest UNTIL THERE IS NOTHING LEFT BUT A BLOODY PULP ON THE GROUND THAT USED TO BE YOUR BODY! It’s great, brutal, creative, and embarrassing to be the opponent! In Deadly Alliance, Cyrax earned his place in the Mortal Kombat saga after his lackluster intro in Mortal Kombat; especially after this finisher!
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/xF7qPWyL7Ag
#9: KUNG LAO’S BUZZSAW – MORTAL KOMBAT (2011)
This one is not for the faint of heart and this is only number 9! This one never fails to get me to cringe in disgust as Kung Lao drops his iconic hat as a buzzsaw while he pulls the loser into the saw. Splitting him from groin to head in a display of violence that is as painful to watch as it is entertaining. This one gets kudos for creativity in its brutality. Just a great and creative use of Kung Lao’s abilities as a fighter with his trusty hat.
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/7FYI0-TF6uo
#8: KUNG LAO’S UNFRIENDLY RABBIT – MORTAL KOMBAT: SHAOLIN MONKS
Kung Lao’s back again, but this time with a twist. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks mixed the formula up and perfected the Action/Adventure game that Sub-Zero Mythologies and Special Forces tried to be, but failed. Shaolin Monks delivered in more ways than one and it delivered with its fatalities. This is a particular favorite from the game as it is both a Mortal Kombat tribute to the Kung Lao’s Friendship in Mortal Kombat II and a loving tribute to Monty Python’s Killer Rabbit. Think if we got that killer rabbit but in a Mortal Kombat game and you have gold! It’s hilarious and a treat for both MK veterans and newcomers to the series.
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/RNDQ91z1pnE
#7. SUB-ZERO’S FASTBALL SPECIAL – MORTAL KOMBAT: DECEPTION
This is one of the more hilarious of the fatalities. Sub-Zero freezes you…ok been there done that…but then he rips your head off and fastballs the head to your frozen body smashing it to pieces. A fatality that is both creative and ironic will always get kudos. This one was so effective as a high for the winner and humiliating defeat for your opponent. It was so entertaining, even 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) had to show it and give it props.
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/DG2TrU28RGE
#6. LIU KANG’S DRAGON – MORTAL KOMBAT II
For a character who had arguably the worst fatality in the original Mortal Kombat, this blew everyone away. As low of an expectation as folks had for Liu Kang, him transforming into a Dragon and eating his opponent certainly left an impression. This also opened the door for Animalities in MK3 forward. This was one of the more memorable of the Fatalities in Mortal Kombat II which folks still to this day say is the best Mortal Kombat game ever.
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/Fk7TZfQGCoQ
#5. JOHNNY CAGE’S DEADLY UPPERCUT – MORTAL KOMBAT 11
A good fatality is as much a throwback as it a loving tribute to something that didn’t work previously. This is a parody to Johnny Cage’s intro in the 1995 film with an untalented stunt man and also a callback to one of the most hated fatalities in MK2. In MK2, Johnny Cage uppercuts multiple heads out of the opponent. It was clear back then that this was one that fell pray to time and budget and it just was kinda lazy. This one mixes the nostalgia with the hilarious factor that Cage just can’t get the take right as he has to continuously bash the opponents head, while berating the crew by asking “Who Hired this guy?!” It’s a great use of the gore, character, and the humiliation Cage throws in there by flipping off the opponent’s dead end at the last second! Great Fatality!
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/fcagQFxlRNE
#4. JOHNNY CAGE’S HERE’S JOHNNY – MORTAL KOMBAT X
Now this! This is an example of a fatality that is both a treat for fans and a treat for horror fans. Taking Johnny Cage and having him rip through his opponent and yell “Here’s Johnny!” in his best Jack Nicholson voice! When you mix the horror classic The Shinning with the brutality of Mortal Kombat, it’s gold and it’s fantastic!
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/lZ_9qmGmJ-4
#3. SCORPION’S TOASTY II – MORTAL KOMBAT II
This is a classic! We all recall the first moment we saw Scorpion had that flaming ghost rider skull and burned the hell out of the opponent! This is a staple and to add the now iconic “TOASTY!” makes this one of the indelible classics. The scary visual of a skull burning a man to death is fantastic! No matter who you are, the sight of Scorpion pulling off that mask is as thrilling and humiliating to experience on either side of the game.
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/fTyIKnRQdx0
#2. SUB ZERO’S SPINE RIP – MORTAL KOMBAT
It was only a matter of time before this one showed up. The image that sent many parents and politicians off the edge and established the rating system we still use in games today: THE SPINE RIP! When Mortal Kombat got ported to the home consoles (Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo) the outcry from Parents and politicians forced Acclaim to port the game without blood. The game was ported very well to the SNES with the blood turned grey and the fatalities removed. Luckily the Genesis version came with a code that removed the censored assets and allowed you to play the game uncensored. With that, the image of Sub Zero holding the head lead the genesis to beat Nintendo’s sales of the game 2 to 1. Ripping the head off your opponent and showing its lifeless humiliating expression to the rest of the folks at the arcade or those crowded around the TV is still number 1 for a lot of MK fans.
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/g2JNxeWO_wA
#1. QUAN CHI’S LEG BEAT – MORTAL KOMBAT 4 & MORTAL KOMBAT (2011)
This. Fatality. Is. Everything. Simple, brutal, and vicious, but humiliating and utterly hilarious! Mortal Kombat 4 had some growing pains with the transition from 2D to 3D. While fans missed the realism of digitized actors fighting, the positives coming from the potential fatalities was endless. But with all the tools in the world, sometimes it only takes a simple idea to deliver a hit. Then comes Quan Chi a new sorcerer character with even deeper ties to the mythos and what do they decide to do? Steal your soul? Use magic? NOPE! He’s going to take your leg off and beat your ass to death with it and continue to beat your ass senselessly way after the match is over! ITS BRILLIANT AND HILARIOUS! It’s so enjoyable and satisfying as the winner but so brutally humiliating as the opponent that you wish you could just take the controller away and skip it! Just hilarious and the best of what any fatality is supposed to do in this franchise.
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/9rUhzWty1t8
While we all may have our favorites, that’s the beauty of this franchise is that the characters and the brutality was accessible and entertaining. This game series, while brutal, is more fun to watch the over the top kills than it is in any other game franchise. With the promise of fatalities, the movie has a fine line to walk with not making the brutality of the film too real that it’s not enjoyable to laugh at. That’s what made the fatalities in the games work. The mix of violence and comedy. It’s almost like watching a Looney Tunes. This movie could be a train wreck as Mortal Kombat: Rebirth and Mortal Kombat: Legacy were, but from the look of the trailers and the writer & director’s enthusiasm for the project, we could have something special to look forward to on April 23rd.
By Andres Gallego
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