Mortal Kombat: Fatalities and Easter eggs from the HBO Max movie

“Kano wins.”

Warner Bros.

Mortal Kombat brought its signature brand of ultraviolence to HBO Max and theaters Friday, marking the beloved video game series’ first silver screen outing in nearly 24 years. Chilly ninja Sub-Zero hunts down new guy Cole Young, forcing him to team up with other fighters as they defend Earth from baddies from another dimension. It’s already out in Australia, and will be available in the UK at a later date.

As you’d hope, the movie is chock full of fatalities — the series’ signature gory finishing movies — and riddled with Easter eggs for fans to spot.

Let’s rip out the movie’s SPOILERS and take a look at their game inspiration. Be warned, the videos are gory, and watching too many finishers in a row made me feel a bit strange.

spoiler alert

Kano the Ripper

After Cole, Sonya and Kano survive an attack by a lizard-like Saurian warrior, Kano rips out its heart and it continues to beat in his hand. Yucky.

This has been one of Kano’s finishers since the original Mortal Kombat in 1992, and got called out during the 1993 US congressional hearing on video game violence. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman was less than impressed with Kano’s antics.

You might assume the Saurian is Reptile, the most prominent member of that species in the games. The one in the movie isn’t named, so it’s unlikely to be him.

Buzz buzz

Former Shaolin monk Kung Lao smoothly dodges all of the attacks by winged vampire Nitara, then slices her right down the middle with his razor sharp hat. He’s used variations of this fatality since Mortal Kombat 2 in 1993, but this particular version resembles Buzz Saw, as seen in Mortal Kombat 2011.

He also utters the phase “flawless victory,” which you earn in the games by winning a round without taking any damage. Good work, Kung Lao.

The new one

Cole Young was created for the movie, so he doesn’t have a history of fatalities to draw from. However, he’s a descendant of Hanzo Hasashi, aka Scorpion, so you know finishing people off violently is in his blood.

Cole Young in Mortal Kombat

Cole Young is ready to slice and dice.

Warner Bros./Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

He certainly draws plenty of blood from Goro after his powers manifest and he gains armor that seems to absorb kinetic energy. Using a newly formed pair of tonfa, he slices off one of the Shokan prince’s hands, rips open his torso and stabs him through the eye.

Since Cole is new to the fatality game, this probably won’t be his signature killing method. This is more like a pre-fatality, actor Lewis Tan told CNET — it’ll likely evolve in the character’s future appearances.

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Your soul is mine

As the good guys flee Raiden’s temple, Shang Tsung telekinetically grabs Kung Lao. He sucks out the hatted fighter’s soul, reducing his corpse to a shriveled husk. It’s a bit mean and quite rude.

Shang Tsung has been sucking out people’s souls for nearly 30 years, but this one closely resembles the version from Mortal Kombat 2.

Clap your robot hands

Reiko beat Jax earlier in the movie, so the soldier repays the favor by smashing the hammer-wielding goon’s head with his fancy new robot hands. So long Reiko, we hardly knew ye.

This finisher harkens back to Jax’s Mortal Kombat 2 fatality, known as Head Clap. He didn’t have cybernetic arms in that game, but did by the time he used the move in Mortal Kombat 4.

Gnome’s revenge and holey torso

After a tussle outside her trailer, Sonya stabs Kano in his laser eye with the garden gnome he spat on earlier. After this, she uses her new energy powers to blow a hole in Mileena’s torso.

Neither of these is directly inspired by any of Sonya’s fatalities from the games, but her daughter Cassie Cage kicks through a defeated enemy’s chest in Mortal Kombat 11.

Enter the fiery Dragon

After knocking Kabal into a tar pit with his bicycle kick, Liu summons a fire dragon to set the baddy alight. 

“Fatality, for Kung Lao,” he says.

As the game series’ original hero, he’s transformed into a non-fire dragon and eaten chunks of defeated foes in multiple entries in the franchise. The movie’s depiction most closely resembles his Fatal Blow from Mortal Kombat 11, since that dragon is on fire.


The final battle is a bounty of Sub-Zero and Scorpion references, from “Get over here” to ice swords, ice walls and a half-frozen Scorpion. After much anticipation, it ends with Scorpion removing his mask and spitting a burst of flame to burn his foe.

This is one of the series’ most beloved finishers, with Scorpion using it in most games, and it’s a delight to see on screen.

Easter eggs 

  • When Sub-Zero freezes and shatters Jax’s arms, the controller inputs for the move are visible as graffiti in the background.
  • In the games’ original continuity, Jax voluntarily gets bionic arm implants to enhance his strength. By contrast, in the new timeline created by the events of Mortal Kombat 2011, his arms are ripped off by telekinetic red ninja Ermac and later replaced with cybernetic arms.
  • Sub-Zero gets his scar from Scorpion’s rope spear during their first fight in 1617. In the game canon, Kano is responsible for that wound (though it’s the original Sub-Zero’s brother,who took over the role after the first game).
  • “The man who took the belt from Eddie Tobias,” Jax says of Cole during their first meeting — a reference to series creators Ed Boon and John Tobias.
  • Sonya’s wall of evidence includes a Matoka warrior who looks like Nightwolf, as well as an idol resembling Kotal Kahn.
  • The murals in Raiden’s temple show Goro and Shao Kahn in his Mortal Kombat 11 armor
  • Liu Kang picks up an amulet resembling that of fallen Elder God Shinnok as he shows Sonya, Cole and Kano around the temple.
  • A blue fan is visible in the hall where Shang Tsung’s gang confronts Raiden’s team — this is the signature weapon of Princess Kitana, Shao Kahn’s adoptive daughter.
  • “All we can do now is test your might,” Liu Kang says before Cole trains against Kung Lao, alluding to a minigame that’s been in the series since the original game.
  • Master Bo-Rai Cho found Liu Kang “half dead in the gutter” and brought him to the Wu Shi Academy. This character trained Liu in the games, and has been playable in several since 2003’s Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
  • There’s a statue of Shao Kahn’s Klassic look in the arena where Cole and Liu fight Mileena and Kabal.

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