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SYFY WIRE Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat Has One Truly Flawless Scene

Hats off to Kung Lao for a fantastic Fatality in the 2021 film, now streaming on Peacock.

By James Grebey
Kung Lao (Max Huang) wears his signature hat in Mortal Kombat (2021).

The 2021 Mortal Kombat movie, now streaming on Peacock, is a slick, action-packed romp, but it is not a “flawless victory.” The film has some flaws, including some clunky dialog, uneven characterizations, and the odd decision not to feature the actual titular Mortal Kombat tournament in a Mortal Kombat movie.

The sequel, currently in development, will surely address some of the shortcomings in this enjoyable if imperfect film. However, there is one scene in Mortal Kombat that is perfect, and that goes a long, long way towards making up for whatever shortcomings the rest of the movie might have. 

That’s right: The hat kill. 

Why Mortal Kombat's Hat Kill Is Perfect

It’s a bloody, gory scene that lives up to both the movie’s R-rating and the infamously violent finishing moves, known as Fatalities, which are a trademark of the iconic fighting video game series

RELATED: Mortal Kombat's ultra-violent, R-rated fatalities, ranked

The movie’s protagonist, Cole (Lewis Tan), along with other would-be champions of Earthrealm in the looming tournament against Outword that will determine the fate of the planet, travel to Raiden’s temple. Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), the God of Thunder, is responsible for finding and training the warriors who will battle against the worst Outworld has to offer, and he’s already got a couple of talented fighters, including Kung Lao (Max Huang). Kung Lao is an experienced fighter who wears a distinctive razor-brimmed hat that he uses as a weapon — as he makes deadly clear. 

Rather than wait around for the tournament, the sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han), who is Raiden’s Outworld counterpart, decides to have his warriors launch an early assault on Earthrealm’s fighters in the hopes of killing them so that he won’t need to worry about facing capable warriors in the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament. 

One of the fighters Shang Tsung unleashes is Nitara (Mel Jarnson), who resembles a winged succubus. She is no match for Kung Lao, though. When she swoops down from the sky in an attempt to catch the Earthworld champion unawares, Kung Lao flips and lands on her back, riding her as she flies straight into his razor-brimmed hat, which he has summoned and planted firmly in the ground. It spins like a buzzsaw as Kung Lao steers the Nitara straight into it, bisecting her in a bloody spray of gore. Then the blood-covered Kung Lao retrieves his hat and utters one of the video game series’ popular quips: “Flawless victory.”

In an interview with CinemaBlend, Huang revealed that the scene was accomplished largely through practical effects, though there was some CGI augmentation to make the kill even bloodier. 

“It was a blend of both. But it was actually more practical than CGI, I have to say because all the blood you see, that is all real. I can't give away too much, but, when we shot that fatality, it was coming at me and it was a mess,” Huang said. “I think a lot of people felt sick on set watching it.”

RELATED: Why it’s pretty obvious we’re going to get a Mortal Kombat sequel (and who we want to see)

The rest of Mortal Kombat, while full of exciting moments, doesn’t quite reach the absurd, extreme levels of violence and thrills that make Kung Lao’s hat kill such a hoot and a holler. But, given the reception this particular scene got, one can imagine that the sequel (which does not have a release date yet) will go further in this direction — and it’ll feature the actual tournament, which will be a fantastic setup for future Fatalities.

In the meantime, you can relive Mortal Kombat’s best scene, along with the rest of the good scenes that surround it, on Peacock