Avid Mortal Kombat fans have held out hope for a modern take on the series since the early 2000s. So when word dropped last year that Mortal Kombat was one of the slew of movies coming to HBO Max in 2021, fans of the video game – myself among them – were thrilled.
The movie is months away and there are plenty of details and theories for fans to pore over while they wait. Here’s everything we know so far.
Mortal Kombat Will Release on April 16th, 2021
In line with the radical new release schedule Warner Bros is pioneering to counter the effect of the coronavirus, the movie will be released on April 16th both theatrically and on HBO Max.
It was originally slated to be released on March 5th, but was moved to April – possibly to avoid butting heads with Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong, which releases on March 31st.
The Reboot Will Introduce A Brand New Protagonist Never Featured In A Movie or Game
Liu Kang, played by Robin Shou was the main protagonist for the first two Mortal Kombat movies. Even though either Scorpion or Sub-Zero were undoubtedly the faces of the series at the time, it would have probably been hard to build a whole storyline around those two characters back then. So Liu Kang it was.
But the upcoming movie reboot won’t be taking that approach. Instead Into the Badlands actor Lewis Tan will be playing Cole Young who’s a mixed-martial artist that somehow gets mixed-up in the inter-dimensional martial arts tournament.
So it’s a really different approach from previous stories which frees the storytelling to go in fresh new directions. And that could be very exciting.
Warner Bros. Went Big With The Cast
While I would love to see a wide assortment of the characters we’ve grown to love (like, come on now. No Jade?), I also don’t want to see this movie spin out of control like Mortal Kombat: Annihilation which had pretty much every Mortal Kombat character (even Night Wolf!), but like, sucked.
Lewis Tan (Wu Assassins, Into the Badlands) will star as Cole Young, a brand new addition to the MK universe leading an ensemble cast of characters from the video games, including Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Kano (Josh Lawson), Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Mileena (Sisi Stringer) Kung Lao (Max Huang), Jax Briggs (Mehcad Brooks) and Shang Tsung (Chin Han).
Most of the actors are prolific martial artists in real life which bodes well for the movie’s fight scenes.
Hiroyuki Sanada will bring the deadly Scorpion to life on screen. A longtime friend of Jackie Chan, Sanada is a noted character actor who is trained in many different forms of martial arts. Originally, he studied Shorinji Kempo, a modified version of Shaolin Kung Futhat was established by Doshin So in 1947.
Canadian-American actor Ludin Lin is also proficient in the martial arts. He studied Muay Thai in Thailand after graduating from high school, as well as Jiu-Jitsu and Olympic style wrestling.
Taslim began his career as a martial artist, and was a member of Indonesia’s national Judo team. He also is well-versed in a variety of other fighting styles, including pencak silat, wushu, and taekwondo, making him the perfect fit for the role of a cryomancer.
At an early age Lewis learned martial arts from his father, becoming highly skilled as an adult in several disciplines including Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Ju-Jitsu and Japanese katana swordplay. He also often performs his own stunts and often appears in supporting roles requiring those skills. He has performed stunts for Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift and Pirates for the Caribbean: At World’s End.
Nitara and Kabal (Yes!) are also characters confirmed to appear in the movie while Johnny Cage is the most notable absence from the announced cast and is the only fighter from the original Mortal Kombat arcade game not to have a confirmed appearance in the movie.
We can only speculate that he is probably being saved for a potential sequel because it wouldn’t truly be Mortal Kombat without all the original fan favorites.
James Wan Is Producing While A New Filmmaker Directs
The initial news about James Wan’s involvement generated a lot of fan excitement. But has since emerged that he is producing and not directing. Instead relative unknown Simon McQuoid will be making his feature length directorial debut with Mortal Kombat.
Simon McQuoid’s IMDB page barely has anything on it so fans will have to cross their fingers hoping that he’ll knock it out the park with this movie. I personally don’t believe it can be any worse than Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. We can only go up from that experience.
The Reboot Is Rated R And Will Feature Graphic Fatalities
The Mortal Kombat video games famously pioneered some of the most imaginatively graphic violence ever seen on a screen. However the fatalities of 90s video games are pretty tame compared to those of the video game today.
The first two theatrical Mortal Kombat movies released in the 90s were rated PG-13 meaning pretty much everyone could see it. That’s not going to be the case with the new reboot which is set to be gruesome, gross and filled with gore in line with the more recent versions of the game.
In fact Lewis Tan who plays the film’s protagonist had this to say to ComicBook.com about the violence and “game accurate” fatalities in the movie: “Let me just say this, there were some days on set that I felt sick. I’m not kidding. They did not hold back.”
Mortal Kombat Starts With a ” Nasty” Fight Between Scorpion and Sub-Zero
According to Entertainment Weekly the first ten minutes of Mortal Kombat will center around a fight between Scorpion and Sub-Zero when both were still known as Hanzo Hasashi and Bi-Han.
In the interview, McQuoid shed some light on the importance of the martial arts skills the actors brought to the scene, “Both Hiroyuki Sanada and Joe Taslim each have an extensive martial arts background which allowed them to make this fight scene that much better.” The bout takes place before either character has donned their iconic garb or acquired their unique abilities.
He also elaborated on the filmmaking choices stating that “there are some great camera moves to give the film a bit of dynamism that make it really enjoyable. We needed it to be really elemental and really brutal. It’s not a shiny film… I wanted the dirt and the grime to come through.”
The scene also sets up the backstory to why Scorpion and Sub-Zero – and their respective clans – despise one another. “It is like a family drama with excitingly brutal fighting.That’s the image of this movie for me,” McQuoid said.
The Mortal Kombat Reboot Will Be The Third Theatrical Release For The Series And The Fifth Movie Overall
There have already been two theatrical Mortal Kombat movies. The original 1995 movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and the sequel Mortal Kombat Annihilation where Johnny Cage is killed off in the first five minutes. 2021’s Mortal Kombat will be the 3rd theatrical release of the franchise.
There have also been two other animated movies that deserve a mention: there was Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins which was released in 1995 and was a prequel to the first movie—and sucked. And then there’s Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge which was released in 2020 and is not only awesome, it is arguably the best Mortal Kombat movie ever made.
Entertainment Weekly Recently Gave Us Our First Look At The Movie
Mortal Kombat Movie Reboot Trailer
There was a tiny bit of footage from the movie included in the sizzle reel for HBO Max’s upcoming releases for 2021 that briefly shows Sub-Zero using his ice powers, Hanzo Hasashi evading swords, and Sonya Blade pointing at the Mortal Kombat tournament invitation board.
But that’s all we have so far and fans are still waiting for a proper look at the new movie. The first trailer is rumored to be arriving soon but until then, the previously released Mortal Kombat promo images will have to do.
“In Mortal Kombat, MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul—in time to save not only his family, but to stop Outworld once and for all?“