Mortal Kombat 1995 VS Mortal Kombat 2021

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
We're putting two of the biggest pieces of “Mortal Kombat” media against each other! Ladies and gentlemen, it's “Mortal Kombat” 1995 vs. “Mortal Kombat 2021! Our video includes such categories as Fights, Quotability, Faithfulness to Source, and more!

Mortal Kombat 1995 vs. Mortal Kombat 2021

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re putting two of the biggest pieces of “Mortal Kombat” media against each other! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s “Mortal Kombat” 1995 vs. “Mortal Kombat 2021!

Which movie do you think is the top dog? Debate with us in the comments below!

Round 1: Faithfulness to Source

When it comes to video game movies (or any film adaptations, for that matter), it’s important to not stray too far away from your source material. There’s this tricky balance you have to find where you’ll attract not just fans, but moviegoers in general.

The 1995 “Mortal Kombat” was certainly attractive to both groups of audiences. You had a good, old-fashioned martial arts movie starring the butt-kicking cast of that ultra-violent arcade game! Problem was that it was totally weak in the fan service department. For starters, very rarely did the characters look anything close to their video game counterparts. Come on, you can’t have Raiden and NOT include the hat! And then, some of the character’s abilities were portrayed in some dumb ways. Since when was Scorpion’s dagger a demon lizard that resides in his palm?? A lot of it just didn’t make sense, and it made us question where all that budget went to.

Honestly, this is where the 2021 “Mortal Kombat” shines the most. While not all of the costumes are completely accurate, the outfits still match their counterparts’ personalities, attitudes, and color schemes. One look, and you can instantly recognize who is who. On top of that, everyone’s abilities remain intact. Liu Kang throws fireballs, Sub-Zero can do more with his ice powers than just icing dudes, and Scorpion doesn’t have a stupid lizard sitting inside his palm. In other words, THIS is how you adapt a property into a movie!

It should come as no surprise that our pick goes to the 2021 iteration. It’s a “Mortal Kombat” movie, and with the effort put into costumes and CGI, it’s impossible to mistake it for anything else.

WINNER: 1995 0 / 2021 1

Round 2: Special Effects & Production Value

Admittedly, this is where the 1995 version falters. This was a movie with a budget of eighteen million big bucks - it had no room for as much CGI as it featured. And what happened in the end? Well, it didn’t look decent back then, and it sure as hell doesn’t look any better today! The practical effects, on the other hand, are hit and miss. There are some shots where it’s solid and others where things could have been a lot better. You know, the moments where you can clearly see through the ruse of production. It all ends up feeling like one of those cheap live action shows you’d find on a children’s network.

So, of course the 2021 movie is going to excel here, but the difference between it and its elder is that it had a bigger budget - roughly $95 million in fact. Even more impressive is the fact that not all of that budget was absorbed into CGI. The movie manages to mesh both CGI and practical effects, and it does so incredibly well. Just look at every scene where Sub-Zero shows up. Whether it's with practical or special effects, the ice looks realistic and instills that chilly feeling in the viewer. When you achieve that level of believability, you’re doing your movie right.

Honestly, we’d be more forgiving of the 1995 film had it been smarter with its budget or, at the least, its production tricks. 2021 just struck that perfect blend of practical and special effects that immerse you into the world.

WINNER: 1995 0 / 2021 2

Round 3: Quotability

Ah, a category where age can favor the old. “Mortal Kombat” ‘95 has been around for so long that it’s hard running into someone who hasn’t seen it or heard of it. And what follows when you ask someone if they’ve seen “Mortal Kombat”? A good amount of quoting! From “Those were $500 sunglasses” to “your soul is mine”, the writing in ‘95 is so cheesy it’d put a deli to shame. But honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Granted, “Mortal Kombat” ‘21 hasn’t had a lot of time to establish itself, but it has its own number of quotable moments. Thing is that most of these moments are made by the smarmy and sinister Kano. While incredibly funny, they don’t pack the same punch as the absurdity of the other movie. Don’t get us wrong - ‘21 has excellent writing and dialogue, but there’s something special about the B-movie attitude of the older flick.

The point goes to MK 1995. It’s simply been around much longer and has achieved its own way of being memorable.

WINNER: 1995 1 / 2021 2

Round 4: Fun Factor & Nostalgia

Now, we’re not debating on which movie is the most “fun”, per se, but rather the timing of their releases and the atmosphere they brought to the fighting game franchise.

While 1995 was one of many video game movies to set expectations (low and often unsatisfied expectations), there was a bit of charm to its cheap look. Like we said earlier, it looks like a dumb kids show, and as we all know, “Mortal Kombat” is anything but that. However, this also worked for the movie if you were one of the many kids playing this in the arcades back then. Let’s be honest - we all freaked out when we first saw Scorpion and Sub-Zero on screen. Plus, it was awesome hearing that classic theme every time characters started fighting! You just can’t get sick of that tune!

2021, on the other hand, brings its own sense of “fun”, one that shows us what a serious and cinematic “Mortal Kombat” looks like on the big screen. The story gets intense, but there are plenty of scenes that balance the drama and humor. Nothing gets too dramatic, and nothing feels super corny. On top of that, you get a handful of jokes that’ll satisfy both “Mortal Kombat” fans and casual moviegoers. The soundtrack even brings that 90’s flavor that we’ve come to expect from the series.

Look, we love both films, but 1995 comes out on top. You just never forget your first time, and we’re a sucker for that original “Mortal Kombat” tune.

WINNER: 1995 2 / 2021 2

Round 5: Fights

If there’s one thing everyone knows, it’s that “Mortal Kombat” needs to work not just as a “Mortal Kombat” movie, but also work as a martial arts movie.

2021 absolutely excels in this, and it’s part of the reason why some are calling it the greatest video game movie yet. Every fight is well-choreographed, making actions fluid, violent, and mesmerizing to watch. On top of that, the movie integrates many classic moves into the fights, and it does so in a way that keeps the action going. Really, the slowest fight you’ll see is between Liu Kang and Kano, and that’s only for a joke about fighting games in general. In other words, one can easily see how much time and effort was put into making this match the same level of action as the games.

1995, unfortunately, could not achieve that by any means. While we can enjoy the cheesy dialogue and painfully cheap production value, the fights are a total bore to watch. Most of what you’ll see are general punches, kicks, and maybe a few flips and unnecessary wall jumps. Some are so bad they’re funny while others are more painful to watch. What makes things worse is that if a character uses one of their special abilities, all action comes to a grinding halt so we can let the CGI work it’s magic. Did we come here to see fights or to look at poorly designed effects? Needless to say, this was a disappointment, especially considering several other action movies prior have great fight choreography that holds up today.

There’s really no debate here. 2021 does a far better job with choreography and keeping the action fresh.

WINNER: 1995 2 / 2021 3

Some may find it unsurprising, but 2021 takes the bloody cake and has set an example for video game movie adaptations.