Mortal Kombat’s colorful fighters, deep (read: ridiculous) lore, and over-the-top violence lends itself to film and TV better than most game franchises. Who doesn’t want to watch a demonic hell ninja rip the heart out of a shape-shifting wizard? That’s money baby, and Hollywood clearly agrees. The beloved franchise has a long history of spilling blood outside of the confines of video games with varying degrees of success, from the ’90s films, to an animated series, to a few live-action shows, to the 2021 reboot movie – and I’ve watched them all.
Here’s my personal ranking, from worst to best, of Mortal Kombat’s on-screen adaptations. From the surprisingly awesome to the hilariously terrible, everything on this list is worth taking a even a peek at if you fancy yourself an MK enthusiast.
Honorable Mention: Mortal Kombat: Live Tour (1995)
This wasn’t a film or TV adaptation, but I’d be remiss not to mention Mortal Kombat: Live Tour. For those of you who weren’t kids in the early ’90s, I really can’t overstate how popular Mortal Kombat really was back then. Sure, it’s still a big franchise today, but it was something of a pop culture phenomenon during its early years and their 200-city traveling stage show was a prime example of that. Young MK fans flocked to convention centers, theaters, and arenas to see their spine-ripping heroes in the flesh, who would engage in choreographed fights and martial arts demonstrations while garbed in pretty bad costumes (even for its time). It’s super cheesy, but I love watching clips of this weird thing now and again. I never got to see it live, but I’d love to know if any of you were lucky enough to have your parents drag you to watch Sub-Zero backflip to techno and laser lights.