March 20, 2021 — Bringing video games to the screen in live-action has a storied, and oft cursed history. With many flops, near misses, and catastrophes. Just over 25 years ago, a prolific director of video game adaptations Paul W.S. Anderson — with Resident Evil and Monster Hunter now also under his belt — was considered to have broken this curse in 1995 with his Mortal Kombat.
For the uninitiated, Mortal Kombat is a popular fighting game series. With over 10 sequels and spin-offs such as game DLCs and various console versions. That found itself embroiled controversy for its use of gore and realistic characters back in the 1990s and has since spawned several series and features.
Often considered cheesy by today’s standards, the first Mortal Kombat movie came out in 1995 and its martial arts scenes and soundtrack are generally adored by fans. However, the bar has been repeatedly raised since the mid-90s for blood-pumping action. This year, director Simon McQuoid’s vision of Mortal Kombat will be unleashed. With a respectable cast and crew telling a tale of heroes and adventure while using impressive fight choreography — which also saw actors taking up a majority of the stunts. The early hype has set the stage for epic and genuine face-offs. Amid the mayhem and magic that Mortal Kombat is known for.
This promise has been expanded on in interviews by those involved in making the new Mortal Kombat a reality. Talking to Gamespot, movie producer Todd Garner explained their ambitions for the seminal game franchise; looking to make “the most badass fight movie that’s ever been shot”. A point also echoed by Simon McQuoid in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Where he stress “there is gore, blood, and fatalities”, including a lot of iconic signature moves.
Moreover, film director McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat has sought to do the fans and franchise justice. Working with an exceptionally skilled and experienced cast of stunt staples and notable action movie stars. Such as Hiroyuki Sanada, Joe Taslim, and Lewis Tan. Speaking with Gamespot, Garner insisted Lewis Tan had done every piece of “fighting choreo in this movie, they all have”. “All”, in this case, means the likes of Joe Taslim as Bi-Han (better known as Sub-Zero), who has previously starred in movies like The Raid and The Night Comes For Us — two of the most highly-acclaimed Indonesian martial arts movies ever created.
Martial arts legend Hiroyuki Sanada takes on the role of a fellow ninja and long-time rival of Sub-Zero, namely Hanzo — who later becomes the highly popular Scorpion. Sanada has no shortage of martial arts experience. Performing martial arts, stunts, and dancing since he was 13 years old, with a broad range of films behind him. Including a prolific output of martial arts features in the 80s such as Samurai Reincarnation, Legend of the Eight Samurai, and Sure Death Revenge. Taken from the information available so far, the rivalry between Sub-Zero and Scorpion appears to be rooted in a somewhat grounded depiction of Japanese history, which is hinted at when Hanzo fashions his retractable kunai weapon when he is first attacked by Bi-Han.
British actor Lewis Tan is a star on the rise. Having appeared in Deadpool 2, Wu Assassins, and almost seizing the role of Marvel’s Iron Fist along the way. This time, Tan takes the lead as the new character Cole Young. A washed-up MMA fighter who’s called to the tournament in the course of the movie. His tweet when the casting was first announced is no exaggeration.
“I have been training for this my entire life, which is why I will not let you down.” — Cole Young
Lewis Tan, who will play a brand new Mortal Kombat character named Cole Young, also has a strong legacy when it comes to action and martial arts. Tan’s Singaporean father Phillip Tan also has a long list of credits under his belt, including a turn in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Speaking with Nerdist, Tan said;
“We want to take Mortal Kombat to new heights, but we also want to take the action to new heights, and the drama and everything on every single level. How can we take this even further? It’s very important to me as an actor, for myself and as a martial artist, to continue my father’s legacy. To continue to deliver on that front and not to take steps back.” — Lewis Tan
It is not all fireballs and face kicks in the coming spectacle though. During an interview with Comicbook.com, the new Mortal Kombat’s director McQuoid said:
“…there is great humanity and connection within the film that goes across all the characters. It doesn’t just go across, just not those guys, it’s every character has their sort of moment to shine.”
Mortal Kombat is releasing simultaneously in theaters and on HBOMax on April 16, 2021.
The viewership for New Line Cinema’s red band trailer of Mortal Kombat has clocked 116M views in its first week. Becoming the biggest red band trailer of all time, besting the 4-day mark of Logan and Deadpool 2, and continuing to do so. Watch the trailer below.
Red-band is a term used for mature, R-rated movie trailers. Which generally contain more violence, swear words, and emotionally charged scenes than the “green band” trailers, the term used for all audiences. Red-band trailers are created solely for the Internet and are not shown in movie theaters.