Double Dragon and Mortal Kombat are two of the most popular video game franchises of all time. Double Dragon ushered in a golden age of beat em ups while Mortal Kombat revolutionized fighting games – and was instrumental in the creation of the video game ratings system that exists to this day. The two were popular enough to break away from the confines of the video game world. This included being adapted to the big screen. Using a comprehensive and scientifically valid system, we will determine which gaming juggernaut was made into a better movie.
(We are immediately going to eliminate plot. Both are video games about fighting. Case closed.)
No matter where the source material originated, when a movie is thin on plot, studios count on names to sell tickets. The names Double Dragon and Mortal Kombat would definitely garner interest from fans of the games, but from there it comes down to casting decisions. In this case it is not even close.
Released in 1995, the Mortal Kombat movie had the internationally renowned Christopher Lambert as Raiden. From there, the rest of the cast is filled with veterans of television and video games but not anybody with a name big enough to market on a poster. This is not to say they did poorly in their roles, but they were not actors recognizable to the casual movie goer.
On the other hand, 1994’s Double Dragon has a surprisingly deep cast. Scott Wolf was starring in Fox’s Party of Five, Alyssa Milano had been a popular actress for years, while Robert Patrick was just three years removed from his iconic role has the T-1000 in Terminator 2. There are also cameos from Vanna White and George Hamilton.
Verdict: Double Dragon
If you are going to make a movie based on a fighting game, the one thing you have to get right is the fights. Mortal Kombat still holds up to this day. The fight scenes are very exciting and are exactly what fans would want them to be. Everything from fast paced fisticuffs to the stage fatalities can be found in the film. Best of all, you do not have to even know the game exists to enjoy the scenes. They are well shot and enjoyable moments that any adrenaline junkie can enjoy.
Double Dragon goes in the opposite direction and has Billy and Jimmy Lee be the opposite of what they were in the video game. While there are some moments in the movie that seem to follow the level like design from the arcades, the fights themselves are little more than gigantic brawls. The audience never sees the two brothers as the bad asses the game makes them out to be. As a matter of fact, they are the exact opposite and many times come off as hapless buffoons. When they are not practically tripping over each other, they are being helped out of situations or even running away.
Verdict: Mortal Kombat
One surefire way to pump up the audience is to play some high octane tunes. The best fighting games have soundtracks that keep you tapping your foot and that one moment that sticks out. The score for Mortal Kombat is recognizable to anyone who has ever heard it. Its pounding tracks are perfect for any fighting movie. Double Dragon lacks any consistency. Going from video gamey, to hair metal, to leaving no impression. Dull fight scenes plus dull fight music equals a boring fighting movie.
Verdict: Mortal Kombat
There really is no contest. Double Dragon definitely excels in the number of big names, but Mortal Kombat is the better movie by far. From the awesomely choreographed fights to the memorable soundtrack, MK does the things that Double Dragon seemed afraid to do. Add in the poor acting, awful special effects, and sheer boredom of Double Dragon and Mortal Kombat wins a near flawless victory.
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