19 Movies Like Mortal Kombat (2021) On Netflix UK

Staff & contributors

The concepts of roads not taken and domino effects have received plenty of cinematic attention in their showier forms by way of multiverse comic book movies and dimension-hopping films like Everything Everywhere All At Once. But, though there’s no hint of sci-fi in Past Lives, Celine Song’s gentle film can count itself as one of the best treatments of that universe-spawning question: “what if?”

When her family moves from Seoul to Canada, teenage Na Young bids a loaded farewell to classmate Hae Sung and changes her name to Nora. Years later, they reconnect online and discover the spark still burns between them. This is no idealistic romance, though: Past Lives is told with sober candor. Song acknowledges real obstacles standing in the way of a relationship between the two — those pragmatic (distance) and, more painfully, personal (evolving personalities, American husbands).

Those two threads — unrealized romance and the transmutation of identity that so often takes place after migrating — are expertly entwined in Past Lives to produce a sublime, aching meditation on memory and time, practical love and idealistic romance, and all the complex contradictions that exist in between. That Song communicates so much and so delicately in only her first film makes Past Lives all the more stunning.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: An Min-yeong, Chang Ki-ha, Chase Sui Wonders, Choi Won-young, Emily Cass McDonnell, Federico Rodriguez, Greta Lee, Hwang Seung-eon, Isaac Powell, Jack Alberts, Jane Yubin Kim, John Magaro, Jojo T. Gibbs, Kristen Sieh, Moon Seung-a, Moon Seung-ah, Seo Yeon-woo, Teo Yoo, Yim Seung-min, Yoon Ji-hye

Director: Celine Song

Rating: PG-13

This adaptation of a tragedy by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson might retain the mostly minimal setting of its source material — two rooms in a Chicago recording studio — but the searing performances at its heart more than warrant the translation to the big screen. A ferocious Viola Davis plays the titular ‘Mother of the Blues’, a fiery artist whose diva-ness is powerfully revealed to be a matching of the same transactional energy with which she’s treated by her white managers. 

On a steamy day in the roaring 1920s, one of Ma’s recording sessions morphs into a tinderbox of debate on art, race, and these exploitative power dynamics that exist at their intersection. As her band awaits her characteristically late arrival, its members tease, and then bicker, and finally erupt at one another. The youngest musician, Levee (Chadwick Boseman), is the most hot-headed — in his older band-mates’ eyes, he’s an arrogant young upstart with delusions of grandeur, but Levee’s ambitions are powered by real pain, as revealed in a blistering monologue. The film is unabashedly stagy in many respects, a quality that can work both ways — but, ultimately, the crackling current that runs through Davis and Boseman’s acting gives the movie all the blazing, goosebump-inducing immediacy of a live performance.

Genre: Drama, Music

Actor: Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Daniel Johnson, Dusan Brown, Glynn Turman, Jeremy Shamos, Jonny Coyne, Joshua Harto, Michael Potts, Quinn VanAntwerp, Taylour Paige, Viola Davis

Director: George C. Wolfe

Rating: R

Given a budget from Netflix to make a documentary on Korean film, some would have chosen instead to make one for big Korean filmmaking personalities like Academy Award winner Bong Joon-ho, who is featured here. However, director Lee Hyuk-rae instead creates Yellow Door, a love letter to the ‘90s film club that inspired a generation. The warm way each member tries to remember the club made decades ago, and the handy, almost cheeky, animations makes it feel like we’re there in the club with them, just listening to friends reminisce about the way they obsessed about film, even if it wasn’t the major they were studying in. It’s so nostalgic and sentimental, and in shifting its focus, it celebrates the lovely experience of finding a community of like-minded people that’s just obsessed with film as you are.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Ahn Nae-sang, Bong Joon-ho, Choi Jong-tae, Ju Sung-chul, Kim Hye-ja, Kim Hyung-oak, Lee Hyuk-rae, Woo Hyeon

Director: Lee Hyuk-rae

Rating: PG-13

This fun comedy-drama is about Bridget, a 34-year-old who hasn't quite got it all figured out, but at least she’s trying: after terminating an accidental pregnancy, she gets herself a summer gig as a nanny for a fearless six-year-old by the name of Frances. 

Tackling a myriad of "taboo" topics including abortion, menstruation, and depression, the movie visually normalizes human experiences that remain underrepresented in mainstream cinema. And writer Kelly O’Sullivan, who also plays Bridget, has a screenplay that manages to do it all without feeling didactic.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Bradley Grant Smith, Charin Alvarez, Courtney Rioux, Danny Catlow, Francis Guinan, Hanna Dworkin, Jackson Evans, Jim True-Frost, Kelly O'Sullivan, Lily Mojekwu, Mary Beth Fisher, Max Lipchitz, Meighan Gerachis, Ramona Edith Williams, Rebecca Buller, Rebecca Spence, Rebekah Ward, Roger Welp

Director: Alex Thompson

Rating: N/A

Gangster films have an issue of glorifying organized crime, and in some ways The Pig, The Snake, and The Pigeon does the same. There are excellent, action-packed fight scenes that makes Ethan Juan as Chen Kui-lin look so damn cool, and the journey Chen takes as a stern criminal out for his legacy definitely romanticizes the character, but it’s so compelling to see him contemplate the purpose of his life through confronting those like him, who tend to move for the ideas of love and spiritual detachment. There are some moments when the pacing falters, but The Pig, The Snake, and the Pigeon delivers on its ending and reimagines the gangster as something to remember.

Genre: Action, Crime

Actor: Ben Yuen Foo-Wah, Chen Yi-wen, Cherry Hsieh, Ethan Juan, Gingle Wang, Huang Di Yang, Lee-zen Lee, Ming Che Lee, Nelson Shen, Peggy Tseng, Troy Liu, Yi-Jung Wu, Yu An-Shun

Director: Wong Ching-Po

Animated in every sense of the word, The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a fun and lively watch for anyone of any age. On the surface, it’s about a tech company’s AI going haywire as it turns against humans and takes over the world (an obvious and much-deserved dig at Big Tech). It also immediately stands out as an energetic and inventive film bursting with love for the animation genre.

But at its core, it's about family and learning to love them even and especially when the going gets tough. Teenager Katie and her father Rick are at that precarious moment in their relationship where everything they do seems to annoy the other, while Katie's mother Linda tries and fails and tries again to keep the peace. The Mitchells are filled with love, but they’re not quite sure how to express it to each other, and it's both funny and relatable how it takes a literal apocalypse for them to realize that. This is a family story elevated by dynamic animation and a bizarro storyline. Expect it to go off the rails in the best possible way.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Drama

Actor: Abbi Jacobson, Adam Wylie, Alex Hirsch, Alison Rich, Andrew Morgado, Ashley Peldon, Beck Bennett, Blake Griffin, Caitlin McKenna, Charlyne Yi, Chrissy Teigen, Conan O'Brien, Danny McBride, Doug Nicholas, Elle Mills, Eric André, Fred Armisen, Greg Levitan, Grey DeLisle, Griffin McElroy, Illya Owens, Jay Pharoah, Jeff Rowe, Jim Pirri, John Legend, Juan Pacheco, Justin Shenkarow, Lex Lang, Lisa Wilhoit, Madeleine McGraw, Maya Rudolph, Melissa Sturm, Michael Rianda, Michelle Ruff, Mike Rianda, Natalia del Riego, Natalie Canizares, Olivia Colman, Sasheer Zamata, Shane Sweet, Todd Hansen, Will Allegra, Zeno Robinson

Director: Jeff Rowe, Michael Rianda, Mike Rianda

Rating: PG

We’re familiar with dick jokes from stand-up comedians, especially male stand-up, but Jacqueline Novak’s 90-minute show about the blow job feels completely new. Get on Your Knees feels like casual storytelling from someone experienced yet distant enough to be a cool authority on it (say, your best friend’s older sister’s best friend), but funnier. It’s like a gossip session about a first experience, except the breathless, dizzying stream of thought is peppered with philosophical thought and points out the absurdity around the language and common attitudes about sex. And as she does so, and as she talks about self-conscious fumbling and unanswered questions, she strides back and forth, in an easy, self-assured way, the way we’d like to feel going into the act.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Jacqueline Novak

Director: Natasha Lyonne

Rating: R

While most are familiar with Hollywood depictions of the transatlantic slave trade, there were also other countries that depicted this terrible time period, including countries from the African continent. Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima self-funded and self-distributed Sankofa in its initial release, but despite the lack of screens, it still managed to become a landmark classic thankfully restored. Like plenty of films on the topic, Gerima creates a harrowing depiction of the slave owners’ evil, but unlike others, it’s more interested in the difficult dynamics between the enslaved, the ways they sought refuge and freedom in each other, and the inner lives of the community they shared despite the terror, all through Gerima’s striking images and the masterfully mixed soundscape, both in the soundtrack and various accents. It’s not perfect, and it’s definitely not easy to watch, but Sankofa has a distinct vision that needs to be seen.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, History, Science Fiction

Actor: Afemo Omilami, Alexandra Duah, Kofi Ghanaba, Mutabaruka, Mzuri, Nick Medley, Oyafunmike Ogunlano, Reggie Carter, Reginald Carter

Director: Haile Gerima

, 2019

This documentary charts the challenges faced by sailor Tracy Edwards and her 12-woman crew in the wake of their decision to participate in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, the grueling yachting competition that covers 33,000 miles and lasts nine months. Director Alex Holmes recreates their adventure using archival footage shot by the women themselves on their voyage, and interesting interviews with the crew members as well as the men who criticized and ridiculed them at the time. Maiden is an interesting bit of documentary filmmaking that is also inspirational and empowering.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Frank Bough, Howard Gibbons

Director: Alex Holmes

It's slower and stranger than most comedies you may be used to, but there's still lots of heart to be found in the way Classmates Minus follows the lapsed hopes and wishes of its core characters. Beneath all its stereotypically male yearnings for control and romantic wish fulfillment, there are potent ideas here about how a tired economy and jaded political culture can turn those in their middle age into completely different people. Writer/director Huang Hsin-yao provides narration for his own film, but rather than being distracting or conceited, his words add a level of needed sympathy to everything we see on screen.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Ada Pan, Chen Yi-wen, Chen Yiwen, Cheng Jen-shuo, Cres Chuang, Evelyn Yu-Tong Cheng, Evelyn Zheng Yu-tong, Hung Shiao-ling, Jacqueline Zhu, Jacqueline Zhu Zhi-Ying, Jennifer Hong, Joanne Yang, Kuan-Ting Liu, Lan Wei-Hua, Liu Kuan-ting, Lotus Wang, Ming-Shuai Shih, Na-Do, Nadow Lin, Rexen Cheng Jen-Shuo, Shih Ming-shuai, Taka Katou, Tong Chih-Wei, Yi-Wen Chen

Director: Huang Hsin-Yao

Shot almost entirely in one take and on a tiny budget, and yet the central performance in this movie is still better than most big-budget dramas I’ve seen this year.

Two indigenous women, one upper-class and the other impoverished, meet on the day that the rich one gets an IUD and the other one, pregnant, finds herself kicked out of her home. They spend a few hours together: they talk, they take cabs, walk, etc; and you as a viewer, follow them throughout their intimate yet difficult moments.

If you like subtle movies that showcase how people live and interact with one another, beyond plot-obsessiveness, this is for you.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aidan Dee, Anesha Bailey, Anthony Bolognese, Barbara Eve Harris, Charles Jarman, Charlie Hannah, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, James Angus Cowan, Jay Cardinal Villeneuve, Kathleen Hepburn, Lissa Neptuno, Paul Jarrett, Sonny Surowiec, Tony Massil, Violet Nelson

Director: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn

Rating: TV-MA

With his dad in jail and mom lost to a drug overdose, Michael lives a lonely life with his grandpa in Dublin.

A minor drug bust sends him to jail for three months and implicates his grand-father with a gang.

Michael Inside uses this brief period of incarceration to offer commentary on the Irish underclass, both inside prisons and out. It's a tough watch that aims for realism and doesn't miss.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ally Ni Chiarain, Dafhyd Flynn, Frank Berry, Hazel Doupe, John Burke, Lalor Roddy, Moe Dunford, Robbie Walsh, Shane Gately, Steve Blount, Steven Blount

Director: Frank Berry

Rating: N/A

There isn't anything about Man in Love—a remake of the 2014 South Korean film of the same name—that you haven't already seen before. But this iteration of the love story between a kindhearted woman and a scoundrel in business with gangsters and creditors benefits from high production values that help Taiwan stay romantic despite the grit of the film's plot. There's also an undeniable earnestness to even the most predictable beats here, helping the love story at its center feel more like a heat-of-the-moment bond forged in desperate economic times, and less like an abrupt bout of passion.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Chih-ju Lin, Chun Hong, Hsin-Ling Chung, Lan Wei-Hua, Lin Chih-ju, LULU Huang, Peace Yang, Roy Chiu, Tiffany Hsu, Tsai Chen-Nan, Xiao Ying Bai

Director: Chen-Hao Yin

Hipgnosis’s body of work is so rich, brilliant, and recognizable, that it’s hard not to at least sit in awe as they flash by you in this documentary. The accompanying stories behind their creation, sometimes told by Thorgerson and Powell, other times by their musician clients like Jimmy Page and Paul McCartney, are also pleasant and informative enough to paint, in whole, an interesting picture. But apart from the covers themselves, Squaring the Circle doesn’t have much else going for it. The co-founders’ history is too brief and plain to render drama, and their upbringing too upper-class and male to be relatable. A more broad, ambitious goal would’ve been to parallel the history of these artworks with the history of rock music itself, but this niche documentary seems uninterested in explaining itself to outsiders and newcomers. That said, it still serves as a precious account for those familiar with Hipgnosis’ pieces. 

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Nick Mason, Noel Gallagher, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Roger Waters

Director: Anton Corbijn

Ambitious and sincere, Where the Tracks End is a sweet coming of age centered on a tender community and mutual aid in the face of worker exploitation. Alternating between the young son of a traveling worker adjusting to a new town and an inspector tasked with informing small schools of an initiative that will force their doors closed, the film loses the chance to be impactful with either. This love letter to teaching and the importance of education is admirable as it holds together the community element of the script. Although the impact goes off-track due to its lack of commitment to one solid narrative, the heart behind it (and the children's innocent will to live a better life) shines through every so often.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family

Actor: Adriana Barraza, Blanca Guerra, Clementina Guadarrama, Fátima Molina, Gabriela Cartol, Guillermo Villegas, Jero Medina, Leonardo Alonso, Tete Espinoza

Director: Ernesto Contreras