On April 23, a brand-new Mortal Kombat movie will debut on HBO Max and in theaters. For video game fans, martial arts fans, and action movie fans, it’s cause for excitement.
The original 1995 Mortal Kombat movie is beloved, but it was of the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ variety—campy and aware of its shortcomings. Meanwhile, its sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), is infamous for being straight-up bad, no qualifiers needed. Not only did the filmmakers recast most of the main roles from the originals, but the action—a must-have for a movie about a fighting tournament—felt overly scripted and fake. The one-liners didn’t hit, the story didn’t make sense, and everything had a low-budget feel to it—both the practical effects and the CGI failed to convince a single viewer.
It seems, based on the red band trailers and early reviews, that this new Mortal Kombat will be legitimately good, not just good “for a video game movie.” It’s also an opportunity for several Asian actors, like Ludi Lin (Liu Kang) and Max Huang (Kung Lao) to get the facetime and recognition they deserve in front of a global audience. It’s worth noting that Mortal Kombat (2021) is rated R, which means we’ll get to see gory Fatalities in all their glory. It’s those Fatalities that put Mortal Kombat on people’s radars in the first place, beginning with that first video game in 1992, and continuing with the 10 sequels that followed in its wake.
To celebrate the release of Mortal Kombat in theaters, we’re ranking every main series Mortal Kombat video game in the franchise’s history, from worst to best. Please note that we are not including spinoffs like Shaolin Monks, and we’re categorizing expansions and repackagings under their core games. With that said, here is every video game that invited you, over the past three decades, to “Test Your Might!”