It has taken a while to get here, Mortal Kombat fans have been patient. But here we are, the Mortal Kombat reboot is nearly upon us, and fans can’t be more thrilled. Especially now since director Simon McQuoid and producer James Wan have offered their first look at the upcoming movie.
When James Wan took on producing duties for the Mortal Kombat reboot back in 2015 he promised one thing. He was not going to rush the film. Damn, he certainly wasn’t lying. When he spoke to IGN after jumping on board, he began by explaining his draw to a reboot, “I love the characters. I think they’re such colorful characters. It’s such an amazing take on, basically, Enter the Dragon [the Bruce Lee movie]. It’s that fantasy version, the video game version, of Enter the Dragon. And in doing so, they ended up creating such interesting characters and I think that is such a cool world to explore. This really mythical, bigger world that lives on another dimension on top of ours. I think that’s really fun to play with and so we’ll see.” But he also wanted fans to know that this project was not going to be rushed. “The key here is to try and do it right. I don’t want to rush into it. So right now, we’re just trying to take our time to make sure it’s heading in the right direction. I think that’s more important than trying to rush through it and pump up something that no one likes.”
Six years later and the Mortal Kombat reboot is here. Scheduled to hit theaters (wherever they may be opened across the nation) as well as HBO Max on April 16, the reboot is going to differ from the original 1995 original and its 1997 sequel in every way, shape, and form, most notably the movie’s rating. McQuoid and Wan promise an R-rating (which it has already received from the MPAA), the origin of the Kombat (the blood feud between the Hanzo and Bi-Han clans), and fatalities. The latter is something that fans are most excited about and we will surely touch upon.
It was important to McQuoid to include the 10-minute opening sequence that showed the feud between the two clans. It sets up the present, which introduces a completely new character to the Mortal Kombat world in Cole Young (Lewis Tan). We first see Young as a down-and-out former MMA champ. “When we first meet Cole, he’s in a really bad spot,” Tan says of his character via EW. “He’s down on his luck. He’s kind of a washed-up MMA fighter who used to be a champion, who used to believe in himself, who used to have a lot of hope in his career. And it’s all gone down the drain. It’s a very interesting place for a hero to start, and I think that, along the journey of Mortal Kombat and Cole discovering where he comes from, you’re introduced to all these other iconic characters and elements that everybody loves so dearly.” For Young, everything revolves around a mysterious birthmark on his chest, one that resembles the Mortal Kombat symbol. But Tan refuses to give away any more of the story, thank you very much.
From there, fans will get to see the new versions of their favorite characters. Shang Tsung (Chin Han) arrives along with Sub-Zero. Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs (Mehcad Brooks) is on hand as is Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee). Of course, we can’t have a Mortal Kombat without Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano). Along the way. More favorite characters appear. Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), and Kano (Josh Lawson) arrive for some training to be part of the tournament.
One of the keys to the reboot, according to McQuoid, was a firm respect for the material. “I wanted to make sure that everyone respected the material, the lore of Mortal Kombat, the fans and the love they have for this. Everyone was clear on it.” So the fighting sequences needed to be the best ever seen on screen. McQuoid told his stunt coordinator to go for it when it came to the fights. “We need to be smart about how we go about [the fights],” McQuoid notes, “and there are times, you’ll see when you see the movie, when it’s just, ‘F— it! Let’s have some fun.'”
Another thing that was clear to McQuoid and Wan, and what was majorly lacking in the earlier versions of Mortal Kombat, is what made the video game so popular. Blood, guts, and finishing moves. And with that in mind, the director explains that this movie will not be PG-13. “Out of context this quote might seem incendiary, it’s not: The rules around ratings aren’t what a lot of people think they are,” he says to EW. “It’s amount of blood, it’s amount of red, it’s interpretation of how you go about it. We had a lot of discussions about getting the balance right so there was gore and there was blood and there were fatalities.” And then for emphasis McQuoid repeats, “And there is gore, blood, and fatalities.”
All Mortal Kombat fans know and love the fatalities. The more brutal, the better. Some of the games finishing moves are wild, from ripping out a spine to severing a person in half. Tan was able to confirm some of the crazy fatalities the movie employs. “There are some crazy fatalities,” Tan confirms. “We’ve picked a couple of iconic ones. There’s a lot of really cool signature moves that you’ll see, a lot of Easter eggs that we snuck into the film, but there are some really badass fatalities that I can’t wait to see on the big screen. They’re brutal, man. They, they don’t hold back.” While the filmmakers had no issue pushing the fatality envelope to give fans what they truly crave, they also had to be very careful that the movie didn’t cross into NC-17 territory. “It’s amazing how quickly you can get there,” said McQuoid. “It doesn’t take much.”
So, who’s ready to “finish him!”?