It would be an understatement to say that Mortal Kombat fans have been getting a kick out of the reboot since it was released into theaters and HBO Max on Friday, with many lauding it as the greatest video game adaptation ever. The general consensus might have been a little more mixed, but that hasn’t stopped it from racing to the top of the domestic box office with an impressive $22 million opening.
However, one thing that left more than a few viewers disappointed was that the movie didn’t even feature the titular tournament itself, despite all signs pointing in that direction. Shang Tsung mentions it on a handful of occasions, and it certainly appears that the story is heading that way for a long time, before the third act delivers a series of intercutting fight sequences and a final showdown between Cole Young, Sub-Zero and Scorpion instead.
It makes the ending feel a little rushed, especially when it concludes on a sequel-baiting note teasing that the main characters are set to scout and recruit Earth’s latest batch of defenders in the second installment, which is probably going to be getting the official green light any day now. In any case, in a new interview, director Simon McQuoid explained why Mortal Kombat doesn’t feature the actual tournament, and here’s what he had to say:
“The story came out of this idea that we didn’t just want to redo the first film. If you look at Mortal Kombat’s evolution over the decades, that has evolved and grown beyond the idea of the tournament. That’s obviously essential within the DNA of Mortal Kombat, and it’s one of the fundamentals, if you look at where the story has gone. The idea of a tournament within a script informs a certain structure and rhythm. We didn’t really want to serve that. To serve a tournament idea, you have to build it a certain way. So it was a couple of reasons that came to it playing out in the way it did.”
That’s an awfully long-winded way of saying ‘we’re saving it for the sequel,’ but you can understand his point nonetheless. There are only a certain number of angles you can approach a movie with a tournament-based format from, but now that the worldbuilding is taken care of, the next chapter in the Mortal Kombat franchise can go all-in on the brutal round robin competition.