CAN YOU FEEL THAT MK Tune – Techno Syndrome composed by The Immortals?? As cheesy as you may feel, it’s popularity and notoriety is known till today!
Am so looking forward to this movie since our fellow country man James Wan announced it! A man of his talents and movie genre would be perfect to helm a movie like this. Video games TO Movies have long been a bane of any studio to fund because the truth of the matter is… they STILL can get it done well enough to make the $$$ in a manner like how the super heroes are doing it. Many critics would comment that it’s the translation from game into a live action movie but many games have great stories and cinematic presentation *mind boggled & sweating*. So on this grounds, I’m just going to jump into this movie just because I’m a big fan ! haha I was fortunate to be able the original game Mortal Kombat (1992) in the arcades here in Sungei Wang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, the very same year it came out. It was new, weird and damn violent… FATALITY! Me and two friends tried our hand at this game and it was very clear who was the best among the three of us. No, it wasn’t me. It was Kamal. Ironically enough his initials were also MK as in Mustapa Kamal xD If there was ever a Mortal Kombat 1 video game tournament, I would send him! Btw I just caught up with him recently and he says he IS STILL at it, playing Mortal Kombat 11… on keyboard!! Yes KEYBOARD… damn if that is NOT stuff of LEJENs… I dunno what it is. Both of us are looking forward to catching this new movie.
Here is the official production notes in which we can get some behind the scenes information about the movie and also a bit more about the makers of the film. Production notes courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures! Enjoy!!
MORTAL KOMBAT (2021)
in cinemas Thursday, 8 April
with SNEAKS Wednesday, 7 April from 6pm onwards
#mortalkombat #theimmortals #edboon #johntobias #popculturefunmy #thecaptain #malaysia #videogames #videogamearcade #sungeiwangplaza #kualalumpur
From New Line Cinema comes the explosive new movie “Mortal Kombat,” bringing to life the intense action of the blockbuster video game franchise in all its brutal glory, pitting the all-time, fan-favorite champions against one another in the ultimate, no-holds-barred, gory battle that pushes them to their very limits. The film is helmed by award-winning Australian commercial filmmaker Simon McQuoid, marking his feature directorial debut, and produced by James Wan, Todd Garner, McQuoid and E. Bennett Walsh.
In “Mortal Kombat,” MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld’s Sorcerer Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt him 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 from 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?
The diverse international cast reflects the global nature of the brand, with talent spanning the worlds of film, television and martial arts. The ensemble includes Lewis Tan as Cole Young; Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade; Josh Lawson as Kano; Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden; Mehcad Brooks as Jax; Ludi Lin as Liu Kang; with Chin Han as Shang Tsung; Joe Taslim as Bi-Han and Sub-Zero; and Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi and Scorpion. Also featured are Max Huang as Kung Lao and Sisi Stringer as Mileena.
McQuoid directed from a screenplay by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham, from a story by Oren Uziel and Russo, based on the video game created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Michael Clear, Jeremy Stein and Larry Kasanoff served as executive producers.
Bringing the hugely popular property to the big screen, McQuoid led a team of Australian and U.S. filmmakers, including director of photography Germain McMicking, production designer Naaman Marshall, editors Dan Lebental and Scott Gray, visual effects supervisor Chris Godfrey, costume designer Cappi Ireland and fight choreographer Chan Griffin. The music is by Benjamin Wallfisch.
New Line Cinema Presents an Atomic Monster/Broken Road Production, “Mortal Kombat.” The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. MortalKombatMovie.net
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
That dragon marking…it’s an invitation to fight for something known as
In “Mortal Kombat,” the visceral, high-octane global phenomenon is catapulted to the screen in an action adventure that finds Earthrealm turning to a team of untried warriors as it faces a decisive battle against enemies from Outworld. The hero’s journey begins when Cole Young learns of his true destiny: to join a group of chosen warriors and prepare for a match far more deadly than the MMA bouts he’s used to. In fact, the very fate of Earth is in their hands.
Director/producer Simon McQuoid states, “Our goal in bringing this story to the screen was to respect the material and service the true fans, but also create a thrilling experience for moviegoers who might not know the games. We wanted to give everyone a really fun, unrelenting ride, and let film audiences get to know these incredibly cool characters and the powerful energy of this IP. Hopefully we’ve remained authentic and, at the same time, have been able to elevate the MK DNA in a big, cinematic way that hasn’t been done in a very long while.”
Part of staying true to the property would, of course, require the filmmakers to lean into its unabashed brutality, knowing at its core it’s about two worlds at war, carried out in a solely hand-to-hand manner. “It’s a key element of Mortal Kombat,” McQuoid confirms, “but the great thing about these characters is, once you know them and their motivations, the fighting is as meaningful as it is unapologetic; you pick your favorites and you care about what happens to them.”
The film “Mortal Kombat” includes numerous canon favorites like Scorpion and Sub-Zero, the extensive lore, the iconic costumes and catchphrases, signature moves leading to gory fatalities, and the fully realized realms.
James Wan, who produced the film with Todd Garner, McQuoid and E. Bennett Walsh, explains, “It’s been over 25 years since the first feature film came out, and fans have been pretty vocal asking for another big screen entry. As a fan myself of the games and movies, I, too, wanted to see another theatrical version of this, and felt it was time again to revisit this IP that has been kept relevant in the game world but not as much in the feature world.
“From the get-go,” he continues, “Todd Garner, my Atomic Monster team and I were gun-ho about creating an updated version with today’s filmmaking technology, whilst being respectful to the fantasy tone, violent action and gore of the game that fans have come to love. We wanted to bring these vivid characters and stories back to the big screen in a modern, exciting way for a whole new generation who may not be as familiar with the films as we were growing up.”
Wan and Garner discussed early on how to approach a fresh take on the material with a distinct nod to its history, satisfying fans but also hopefully gaining new ones. Garner says the key to that was “making sure we got the story right. We didn’t want to remake the 1995 movie, we didn’t want to short-change the fans, but we needed an epic storyline that, even if you have never played the game, you could still become immersed in it.”
“Simon had a strong vision for the world and the characters from the original material,” says Wan, a master at world-building. “Even though this is his first feature, he’s spent years in the commercial world telling visual stories, and he worked closely with the writers to design the world in the film.”
Garner adds, “When I came upon Simon’s work, not only was it visually exciting, but he really could tell a story in 30 seconds. One of the reasons why we were eager to work with him was because he really wanted to take this inclusive, grounded, more realistic approach to the epic adventure.”
In bringing the games to life, McQuoid and the writers sought an easy entrée into the world for the uninitiated and created Cole Young as a vehicle for discovery so that, whether a viewer is familiar with Mortal Kombat or not, they can see the world through his eyes as someone who is experiencing it for the first time.
Writers Oren Uziel and Greg Russo developed the story that Russo and Dave Callaham then scripted. Russo recalls, “Respect for the canon was the mission statement I had from the very beginning.” As a longtime fan who ranks in the top 50 among gamers in the world and top 15 in the U.S. on the Xbox platform, that was a given for Russo, who, on a visit to his mother’s home around the time he began crafting the story, found old drawings and stories about the Mortal Kombat game that he made when he was 12 years old. “I dug them out and showed my wife, and she was like, ‘Wow!’ “Video games were always an outlet for me growing up,” he continues. “Mortal Kombat was one of the games I latched onto the most. I would spend countless hours at the arcade after school playing with my friends, and I had all the home console versions. My love for this property was fostered at a very young age. I feel this was always meant to be.”
McQuoid adds, “The fans invest a lot of time and money and attention into the games and are invested in the characters. They know if back to front and they love it, and the writers made sure to respect that while also considering a new audience. That’s one of the reasons I loved the script—it had heart and soul and humanity underscoring the intense action and adventure. Every character is fighting for what matters to them.”
CAST & CHARACTERS
The international cast of “Mortal Kombat” reflects the global nature of the brand; every actor in the film was cast not only for their talent, but also because they accurately represent their character as the fans know and love them. McQuoid says, “With this film we are elevating these much-loved characters onto a platform that is even more massive than in the games, so we respected every character as best we could in order to bring them to the big screen in a way that feels authentic.”
Garner agrees. “The property itself has this wonderful diverse group of characters, and our goal was to accurately reflect the ethnicity of each in our cast.”
Wan adds, “In the world we’re living in today, representation is extremely important. When you have a film like this, there’s nothing better than embracing the way the characters were designed and casting talent from around the world.”
These are your champions! Heroes of Earthrealm
The only lead role in the film that gamers won’t find familiar is the story’s point of entry, Cole Young. A new character to the Mortal Kombat franchise, Cole is a gifted MMA fighter struggling to catch a break in the violent, competitive world of cage fighting. Unaware of his powerful heritage, Cole bears a distinct birthmark that he soon discovers has made him the target of Outworld’s assassins. Desperate to protect his family and uncover the truth behind his marking, Cole is propelled into a dangerous journey where the only thing that can save him is unearthing his own power from within: his arcana.
Lewis Tan plays Cole, a former champion now struggling to get by, fighting in illegal cage matches just to put enough food on the table for his daughter, Emily, and his wife, Allison. He loves his family more than anything in the world, but believes he is letting them down, that he’s not good enough probably never will be. But Cole will soon come to realize that his purpose is much bigger than he ever could have imagined. His journey to become a very different kind of champion begins as he learns the truth about the strange dragon-shaped birthmark he bears.
Russo says that idea for Cole’s storyline came from his own life. “When I began working on this project, my wife and I were in the process of having our first child. I was dealing with a lot of those questions about what it means to be a father, wondering if I would be a good dad, that sort of thing. And I channeled all of those fears and emotions into creating the character of Cole Young.”
Tan recalls, “I think the first time I played Mortal Kombat was in an arcade, but like most kids who fell in love with the action and fighting, I had it at home, too; I would usually play Kung Lao. And I would sneak and play late and night—and get in trouble! And now look at me, mom!” he laughs.
The actor loved the mix of what McQuoid was offering with his take on the Kombat universe. “The story was really cinematic and at the same time grounded, heartfelt, dramatic, violent. What was cool for me is to play this father who, in trying to protect his family, discovers his own true destiny.”
When we meet Cole, he is in the middle of a match. Tan remembers, “it was a powerful scene and it was one of the first scenes that we shot. Cole has a big MMA fight in the beginning against a guy named Ian Streets, who is a real bare-knuckle boxer, who also knows film fight choreography. But you can’t really fake MMA wrestling and that type of stuff too, too well, so we had to go at it for like three days.”
Tan relates that, at the end of that sequence, “Cole and his daughter walk out of this giant MMA warehouse in Port Adelaide—which they made look like Chicago. And they’re sitting together eating ice cream together and then all of a sudden it starts to snow. It’s a summer night in Chicago, and these little snowflakes are falling…” he smiles.
Before Cole can fully realize what’s happening, he’s intersected by a total stranger who does, in fact, seem to comprehend the situation and the grave danger Cole is in: Jax. Played by Mehcad Brooks, Jax—aka Major Jackson Briggs—is a physically imposing, headstrong Special Forces soldier. A natural-born protector, Jax has always put the safety of those around him before himself, and does so again with Cole, ordering him to safety while he takes the hit from the veritable ice storm that’s upon them.
Brooks offers, “I’ve been such a fan of the game for so long that when I read the script, I flipped. It really is a dream come true to play Jax Briggs.”
Being so familiar with the character, Brooks says the challenge as an actor was precisely that. “The interesting thing about playing a video games character is that you have to walk this line of being larger than life, but also making that person feel real, so I needed to wrap my head around that.”
One trick he employed to put the role into perspective was, he says, “I thought of the Hemingway quote, something along the lines of ‘Once a man has hunted armed men long enough and like it, he has very little appeasement with anything else thereafter.’ For Jax, coming from Special Forces, he doesn’t have an appetite for anything less, so where do you go from there? Monsters, right? And to hunt them, you have to be one, in some ways. He’s a killer, so there was some soul searching I had to do to play that sense of duty, that compartmentalization that comes with the idea that this is what he has to do to keep himself and others safe.”
One of the “chosen” ones himself, Jax bears a mark similar to Cole’s, and has been working to uncover the truth behind the Mortal Kombat mystery—ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good if necessary. In fact, in sending Cole away, Jax sustains a terrible injury, one that would be enough to keep a regular man down. But Jax has unfinished business.
Jax is also responsible for recruiting Sonya Blade to Special Forces, and while she does not bear the chosen mark, the intelligent, steadfast soldier has also been digging into the mythology behind Mortal Kombat for years. A deadly knife-wielding fighter, she is as determined and no-nonsense as they come. Her dedication to unraveling the truth behind the mark has driven her to track down the few remaining champions of Earthrealm.
Jessica McNamee, who plays the powerhouse Sonya, came to the role without a gaming background. “It was a learning experience for me,” she says, “and there’s a lot to learn! I read a lot and listened to a couple of podcasts about all the characters and the game—the whole universe—and that was really helpful. I learned Sonya’s backstory and all about the rivalry she has with Kano.” The actress says the latter helped fuel her performance. “If I’d just read the script alone, I don’t think I would have realized how much of a vendetta Sonya has against Kano—she really wants this guy dead, and that made playing their dynamic really interesting.”
And a conundrum for the character. One of the things that gets under Sonya’s skin is that Kano murdered his way into becoming one of the chosen few. “She has such a predicament, with Kano at the root of it, because she really wants him dead, but she needs him to help save the world.”
Because it’s up to Sonya and the mercenary Kano to see that Cole gets to Lord Raiden’s temple, where he will be trained to fight in Mortal Kombat, McNamee spent a good amount of time with Tan and costar Josh Lawson, who plays the gruff and unrepentant Kano. “They are such cool guys and a lot of fun, and we laughed a lot on set…probably to the annoyance of everyone else trying to get through the scenes,” she grins. “But seriously, they both worked their butts off. Lewis’s work ethic is unreal. Josh, whom I’ve known for a long time, is absolutely the class clown, so I always enjoy working with him.”
Lawson relished playing Kano, who tends to be a fan favorite thanks to his brash personality, observing, “He’s a guy you love to hate, I think. He’s a mercenary for the Black Dragon Clan, an opportunist…he’s complicated. Is he good, is he bad? He’s antagonistic, self-serving and greedy, with a nasty sense of humor, all of which makes him a lot of fun.”
Loyal to anyone who’ll pay him enough, Kano goes against everything Sonya Blade stands for and their rivalry, well-known throughout the Mortal Kombat universe, is played to full force in the film.
Ironically, though he was familiar with the games, having played them as a kid, Lawson confesses, “I knew Sonya Blade, I knew Lord Raiden, but I never played as Kano!” The actor found it freeing. “I didn’t bring any preconceived ideas on who Kano was for me, I just got to discover it and dive into the character which was so fun.”
As they near the temple, the trio is greeted by Liu Kang, an integral force among Lord Raiden’s team of Earthrealm champions. Admirably loyal, Liu Kang has dedicated his life to preparing for Mortal Kombat and serves as a trustworthy guide and counsellor to all on the path to protecting Earthrealm from Outworld’s forces. The shaolin monk is one of the few who knows everything there is to know about Mortal Kombat and has already earned the trust and favor of Lord Raiden. He has also unlocked his own arcana, or true power, and has the power to manifest and manipulate fire. He will counsel our heroes and guide them into discovering their true potential.
Ludi Lin plays the mystical Liu Kang. “I started playing the video games when I was a kid, and when the first ‘Mortal Kombat’ movie came out, Robin Shou became one of my heroes—I skipped school to watch the second movie. Now I get to play the same character,” he smiles.
“Liu Kang is the spiritual center of the film,” he notes. “He is very pure of heart. He believes in Earth’s champions more than anybody—even Raiden has lost faith in the world because its people have forgotten its mythology. He has grown distant. But Liu Kang still believes. Whether his faith in someone like Cole proves to be well-placed remains to be seen.”
Immortal elder and protector of Earthrealm, Lord Raiden has assembled and trained generations of champions to fight each Mortal Kombat tournament. Having lost the last nine, Lord Raiden does not have much hope in this latest group.
Tadanobu Asano, who portrays the Thunder God, offers, “Raiden was waiting for the fighters who will fight for Earth. It’s a very important thing for him as he’s always preparing for the next Mortal Kombat, but he thinks now maybe he should give up, that his opponent is too strong, his choices are not good.”
To help him build the character, who can be somewhat reserved, the actor read not just between, but all around, his lines. “For me, the most important thing is reading the script over and over,” he says. “There is my dialogue, but there are many important feelings in the dialogue of others. Raiden is a still and calm person, but he sometimes will blast out his feelings, shouting. I can understand my character from these scenes but also from scenes where they speak about Raiden. These things, these other details, are very important for me when I’m reading the script.”
Among those in whom Raiden does place great confidence is Kung Lao, descendent of one of the greatest fighters Earthrealm has ever known, The Great Kung Lao. Bold and faithful, Kung Lao is himself one of Raiden’s finest warriors, his acumen and his adept use of his razor-brimmed hat, which he controls via telekinesis, rendering the shaolin master a formidable opponent.
Unlike many of his co-stars, Max Huang came to the Mortal Kombat gaming universe after first discovering the earlier films. A full-fledged fan, he says, “When I heard I was going to play Kung Lao, I happened to be in China, training in martial arts. It was like a dream come true, really.”
Huang dove into preparing for the part and arrived at a unique angle. “I went through the script and right away thought it was like a classic western movie, because it has all these cool characters coming together for a showdown,” he relates. “Especially Kung Lao, because he is this mysterious guy, doesn’t talk much, keeps to himself and wears this wide-brimmed hat, which is so iconic; I felt it almost makes him look like a cowboy.”
The actor, who went back to play the game in order to take in his character’s fight style, devised a way to train with the hat prior to having the benefit of his costume. “I actually cut out a hat from cardboard, so I had something to work with, and I even came up with a couple of new moves. It was pretty fun.”
The filmmakers knew they could not give the fans a Mortal Kombat movie without including the legendary ninja born to the Shirai Ryu clan and the greatest warrior to ever live, Hanzo-Hasashi, also known as Scorpion. But his violent murder at the hands of rival assassin Bi-Han banished him to the Netherrealm, where his soul remained trapped in eternal fire, revenge his only thought as he waits for a chance to be freed from the dead.
With no experience in the Mortal Kombat fandom, actor Hiroyuki Sanada headed directly to his computer to research the property and especially his character as soon as he was cast, but also felt a hands-on approach was worth a try. “I was on location on another film and went to a game center where I found the classic game. I put the coin in and tried to find Scorpion and Sub-Zero, to figure out those characters. Of course I was beaten every time, just losing and losing,” he laughs. “But I kept at the games to keep learning the stories, the background and the characters. It was so much fun.”
He immediately embraced his character. “He was cool, and I loved his weapons and fighting styles,” Sanada says. “But I did feel some pressure to make sure I got him right.”
The actor needn’t have worried—it seems his casting was predestined. “Before I was offered the part, fans on the internet used Photoshop or something to put my face on the body of Scorpion!”
Rounding out the residents of Earthrealm, Cole’s daughter, Emily, is played by Matilda Kimber, and Laura Brent plays her mom, Cole’s wife Allison. Like Cole, both characters were, of course, created for the film. Allison is smart and protective and a devoted mom, and Emily, wise beyond her years—thanks in part to seeing her fair share of her dad’s MMA bouts—is a firm believer in her dad, and the driving force that keeps him fighting, even when winning seems impossible.
I am Sub-Zero! COMBATANTS OF OUTWORLD
The deceiving and powerful sorcerer of Outworld, Shang Tsung has led his realm to victory over Earthrealm in nine consecutive Mortal Kombat battles. But there’s more to it than just claiming victory: cursed by the Elder Gods, Shang Tsung must feast on human souls in order to sustain his rapidly aging body.
Chin Han plays the sorcerer, describing him as “The ultimate in evolution and intelligent design. Shang Tsung is not only a shapeshifter, he’s also a soul eater. He can move among humans and they don’t know he is there, and he can access the signature moves of all the fighters in Mortal Kombat, so he has all their strengths, minus any weakness.”
Except now. His weakness is beginning to manifest as Outworld decays into a dying wasteland, making Shang Tsung’s commitment to claiming Earthrealm even more desperate. The villain will do anything, as dark and evil as it might be, to save his people…and himself.
Han enjoyed the film’s take on the longstanding IP. “This film retains the essence of the games, the spirit of the original movie, and uses it as a jumping off point to tell a story that speaks to our time, a time of superheroes and antiheroes. And for me it’s interesting because of the insights into why Shang Tsung is so determined to take over Earth, and to build his empire on top of it.”
One of the Elder God’s most devoted followers is the vicious and unpredictable half-Tarkatan, half-Edenian Mileena. She is loyal to her creator and serves as both his warrior and informer. Wielding duel sai blades and with the ability to teleport, Mileena runs circles around her enemies and will stop at nothing to obliterate Earthrealm’s Champions.
Mileena is portrayed by Sisi Stringer, who approached the role with great reverence for what she means in the canon. “The fans have deep connections with the character, and I knew they wouldn’t want her to just be a killing machine,” she offers. “From her perspective, she wants to live on by Shang Tsung’s side. There’s an emotional life behind her and that was something the fans let me into as I prepared to play her.”
Among the signature characteristics of Mileena, Stringer describes, are “her horrible detachable jaw, where the Tarkatan teeth and her slippery tongue come out, and her bright yellow eyes that are really piercing. It’s tragic, really, because she’s a clone of this beautiful princess, Kitana, but cursed with this Tarkatan blood that makes her ugly, too, but also very powerful.”
Still, the most powerful weapon in Shang Tsung’s arsenal is the fierce and unrelenting cryomancer Sub-Zero, a killing machine who utilizes ice to slay in service of Outworld. Once known as Bi-Han, a ruthless assassin for the Lin Kuei clan. His training has made him deadly, and his intelligence aids him in manipulating his prey. In order to wipe out Earth’s remaining champions and ensure Outworld’s victory, his current target is Cole Young and those who seek to train Cole in Mortal Kombat.
Joe Taslim, who plays what is certainly one of the most iconic antiheroes in the gaming world, says he found his character’s motivation during his online research, and held it as a mantra. “For me, competition wasn’t enough motivation, I felt there would be something else,” he attests, “so when I found the line ‘No one leaves the Lin Kuei,” that did it for me. That was my motivation. It’s never personal. If you’re in Lin Kuei, you always will be, and if you’re not in, you have to die. It’s not my fault.”
Bi-Han’s code of dishonor allows him, as Sub-Zero, to cut an icy swath through every Earthrealm champion in his path. Taslim remarks, “Simon had a really great vision for the introduction of the character in this film, it’s epic. The audience will sense his presence before they ever see him, and they’ll see the immense power of him. It’s such a great entrance.”
Also pledging their allegiance to Shang Tsung are Nitara, played by Mel Jarnson; Reiko, played by Nathan Jones; and Kabal, played by Daniel Nelson.
McQuoid applauds the dedication of each and every member of the cast, stating, “Every single actor gave it their all, they trained daily—you can’t get this good if you don’t train every day—and they
each had a real presence that served their role perfectly. Also, it was such a great family, they all got on really well while working hard to bring these iconic characters to life.”
Prepare for Kombat! STUNTS
In order for the roster of fan-favorite characters to deliver extreme fighting, unapologetic brutality and exceptional gore in the high-stakes battle of champions that comprises Mortal Kombat, the filmmakers turned to stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner and fight choreographer Chan Griffin and their teams to take the battles to the next level. With a cast willing to train hard—and with several already seasoned in the practice of martial arts—they embraced the challenge.
McQuoid wanted every fight to have a different flavor, but always wanted the audience to feel grounded in the fight, to feel the sense they are experiencing it, much as a player does in the game. “I felt it was critical that the narrative continue to be driven throughout the fights, that these most visceral moments of the story reveal character as well. Kyle and Chan did an incredible job making the fights themselves look and feel, tonally and visually, like they really stand out as very singular. We didn’t use any wide angle lenses but got right inside each battle. If we didn’t have a specific plan for a fight born out of the script itself, instead of looking at other martial arts films for inspiration, we would always go back to the source material and try to elevate that to a cinematic moment.”
The stunt team started training the cast in an empty soundstage at the Adelaide Studio with cardboard box walls, mapping out the choreography. Australian martial arts legend Nino Pilla was engaged to work with the cast in preparation for the production. Pilla found they all had one thing in common: commitment.
Sisi Stringer trained four-to-five times a week in martial arts and fight work in Brisbane before coming to Adelaide for filming, and Jessica McNamee, who had perhaps the least stunt/fight experience of the main cast, made it clear to Gardiner and his team that she wanted to do as much of the work as possible herself, showing up ready to work at every rehearsal, spending even more time than needed.
Gardiner said working with action film legend Hiroyuki Sanada was a dream come true and found him to be the ultimate professional. Though they didn’t have a lot of prep time with Sanada, just about two weeks, he learned everything required for his role in that time, including what Gardiner described as a 35-beat fight.
What might have been the toughest challenge for Gardiner was to find a double for Joe Taslim who, after 15 years with the Indonesian Judo team, made the task of finding a stuntman who worked at such a high level and could match Taslim’s own skills quite difficult.
Lewis Tan, whose father is a veteran fight coordinator, found playing Cole an opportunity to put his own lifelong training into the role. “Cole is a mixed martial arts ex-champion, so the fight style that I based him around is similar to what I learned for kickboxing and Muay Thai tournaments. In MMA, there’s judo and jiu-jitsu added into it, with a little bit of wrestling, generally speaking. But Cole’s striking style is more Muay Thai, Lethwei—elbows, knees, a little judo intertwined in it. The fight coordinators choreographed a little bit around what I know already, but it’s mixed or freestyle.”
Tan has learned through various prior roles that “the camera doesn’t read power it reads speed and it reads angles. So, you have to adapt the way that you’re performing based on that. I’ve been training for this since I was 6 years old, but for this film there were a few things I had to learn that were different than what I knew already. For instance, using the tonfa. I do know how to use nunchucks, a katana, a staff. But I had to learn tonfa and some of the choreography on set, on the day. That’s when you’re grateful for what you already know, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do that, if you didn’t have the underlying experience already.”
Garner comments, “We were so lucky that our cast are not only tremendously talented and gifted as actors, but also some of the best martial artists in the world. Ludi Lin’s style of martial arts, Lewis Tan’s style, Max Huang’s ability with his tumbling and his acrobatics, which you don’t need a wire for… They were all incredible. And the speed and intensity of Joe Taslim was a joy to watch. He’s the nicest, sweetest man in the world who is just the evilest psychopath in our movie, and that’s just a testament to what a great actor he is.”
The fate of Earth is in our hands. LOCATIONS / PRODUCTION DESIGN / CAMERA
Filming on “Mortal Kombat” took place in and around Adelaide, the coastal capital of South Australia, where McQuoid assembled a gifted lineup of creatives, including director of photography Germain McMicking, production designer Naaman Marshall and costume designer Cappi Ireland. “I had a very specific vision and taste, so once you get people the caliber of Naaman, Germain and Cappi on board sharing that vision, that’s half my job done,” McQuoid states. “I loved watching these brilliant people work, it was a joy to me.”
Marshall offers, “When I met Simon, we hit it off right away, and I remember telling him I don’t play video games or follow Mortal Kombat, but what I try to do is create authentic sets, keeping them grounded in reality, and evolve from that. That’s my approach, so if you’re looking for a gamer I might not be your guy. And he just looked at me and said, ‘That’s a good answer.’ And from there we just set off on designing the film.
“We had such a good time working together, in the sense that Simon was always open to ideas and I’m not afraid to give ‘em,” Marshall laughs. “It really is a pleasure to work with somebody who knows what he wants but knows when something else is a better or more interesting idea. And we both wanted to embrace the history of Mortal Kombat and simply evolve it with a contemporary look and feel.”
Garner adds that in addition to a common understanding of the film’s aesthetic, the locale worked to inspire them all as well. “We found a tremendous amount of locations that we wouldn’t have been able to find anywhere else. A film of this magnitude had not been shot in South Australia prior to now, so we are really showcasing what the State has to offer. It has such a diverse amount of landscape and geography that really worked in our favor when building our movie.”
“When you think of filming in Australia you think of Sydney or Brisbane or Melbourne or the Gold Coast,” says Marshall. “So, I didn’t know what to expect in South Australia, but what I quickly realized is to try to do this film in those other places, or back in the States, wouldn’t be as gritty and real as it was in Adelaide. It really ticked all the boxes.”
It was important to McQuoid for the movie to be shot in-camera as much as possible, in order to provide an authentic connection for the viewers. “I find that films with heavy visual effects can disconnect an audience,” he said. “There are obviously some amazing examples of it but for me, personally, I have to believe, and the way for me to believe is to feel the authenticity of the characters and their world. I wanted it dimensional, slightly otherworldly, but also very tangible. We’re dealing with fire, we’re dealing with ice, so let’s treat them how they really work and then make them massive and interesting.”
Among the many locations the production utilized was Black Hill Quarry, a black granite quarry in the town of Black Hill, 112 kilometers (just under 70 miles) from their base in Adelaide, served as a location in Outworld and the spot for an epic battle. McQuoid observes, “Our Outworld is at the bottom of a disused coal mine, it’s all black, and it is spectacular. No one wants to go and shoot in the bottom of a coal mine, but when you go down there with these beautiful Ultra Vista lenses we were shooting with, and you have these incredible actors in their costumes, you put them in this implausible location and all of a sudden it becomes another world.”
Supervising location manager Jacob McIntyre says, “One of the tricky components at this location was making it not feel like a set, because it’s actually so perfectly built and positioned. It created another fantastic backdrop for a fight sequence.”
By contrast, Garden Island on Adelaide’s Port River, home to one of the largest and most diverse ship graveyards in the world, served nicely as the desolate boatyard where Cole finds Sonya Blade’s trailer home base.
“We originally had Sonya living at a farmhouse,” McIntyre says, “but nothing was really striking us as we were going through this process. We looked at traditional farmhouses. We wanted the kind of vibe that Sonya was living on the outskirts, living a little bit out of the way and almost in survival mode. Then we started thinking out of the box and went down to the docks. We were talking about old boat yards and came across this small boat club and a massive power station in the background. Sonya’s container was built in the middle, amongst all these old boats that are around with the power station hemming us in. With the water element, it looked fantastic at night. It also is where we have an iconic fight between Sonya and Kano.”
The design team also created environments for scenes taking place in such places as the woods of ancient Japan, Outworld, Raiden’s Temple and a modern-day city akin to Chicago, with sets including a warehouse where Cole competes in MMA fights, a burger joint and an abandoned department store.
Garner says, “This was an incredibly challenging movie on the production design front, and we were extremely fortunate to have Naaman to lead this. The movie really lent itself to different tones and color palettes and the production design lived up to every bit of that.”
Among the many notable props created for the film by property master Lisa Brennan and her team:
● Sub-Zero’s Kori Blade: more than ten concepts were designed before this was finalized; inspired by icicles, it was made out of a resin with a plastic wrap-type of film inside to give it an icy look under lights, like stalactites.
● Reiko’s hammer: it was Marshall’s idea to go with a sledgehammer; Brennan referenced an old jeweler’s hammer and created it out of solid steel, with a wooden handle and wrapped in barbed wire, which is actually leather.
● Sonya Blade’s collection of knives: handmade locally by Gardner Knives in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, they have a distinctive Damascus pattern, reminiscent of flowing water, in a ladder or teardrop pattern.
An unexpected favorite within the props department was the gnome, which plays an important part in a fight between Sonya and Kano. The team held a competition as to who could draw the best gnome, and concept artist Rain Hart came up with the final design, which was sculpted out of clay, with a second one made from rubber for safety reasons.
It’s not a birthmark, Cole, it means you’ve been chosen.
COSTUME DESIGN / HAIR & MAKEUP DESIGN
Because the characters of Mortal Kombat are so iconic, the filmmakers, especially costume designer Cappi Ireland, knew it was key that they look as the fans all across the globe would be eagerly anticipating. Garner says, “We were so lucky to get Cappi. The costumes are beyond anything that we could have imagined. It’s extremely difficult to take something that is so well known and put a real-world spin on it. Cappi was able to bring a realism and a ruggedness, a grounded feel that resonates through the movie.”
Ireland says of her design aesthetic, “We wanted to take the fantasy element of Mortal Kombat and ground it in a more visceral way with real fabrics, earthy leathers and cottons and metals, nothing too shiny and new. I felt it was important to keep away from the look or feel of superhero movies, so even though it is kind of a surreal, fantastic world, we want the costumes to feel real.
“I didn’t know much about the game to be honest, but I was able to explore all it’s different incarnations online,” she continues. “I looked at all the different costumes that they had from inception to now, basically through all 11 games. I also read a lot of the backstories and did a lot of research about all the different characters. There is a lot of information to be found—my 12-year-old son was able to offer some guidance, too. I definitely got some kudos from him when I took on the job!”
Because the property is known for its fierce fandom, Ireland found the challenge both fun and a bit intimidating. “I really wanted to do the right thing for the fans, and I hope that they enjoy what we’ve done. They are very passionate and have their favorite characters, so it’s intimidating. But it’s also quite fun to have a specific audience that knows everything and anything about it; it helps inform your decisions. Would Scorpion really wear that? Would the fans really appreciate that? So often there were times when we had options, and then we asked ourselves that question, and that really guided us to where we ended up.”
Ireland began with one of the most iconic characters in the entire MK universe. “Sub-Zero was the first costume we worked on and got across the line. That was quite a tricky one because we weren’t quite sure where to go with him. We ended up using quite a traditional Chinese pattern, a centuries-old Chinese armor. Once that was decided upon, it was all about the all-important mask and the hood. We decided to create this kind of sinewy muscle feel to them so it’s almost like it’s his muscles. We made it out of urethane, so it’s kind of rubbery and more comfortable for Joe Taslim to wear.”
For Lord Raiden’s hat, Ireland says, “We decided to up the ante with the hat and not make it out of straw but make it metal-like, but still based on original traditional designs. It was quite a challenge to get a hat that wasn’t so heavy. We ended up using fiberglass materials with metallic elements in it, so it polishes up and it looks like a metal hat.”
For both Kung Lao and Liu Kang, the designer says, “They are traditional Chinese looks based on Shaolin monks, although Kung Lao’s hat is actually a Korean-style hat. So, he’s got this Chinese-inspired tabard and a leather belt with jade on it. And he’s got armor that’s quite pointed on his arms and shoulders. And, of course, Kung Lao’s hat is very important. We recreated the classic hat and worked out the best way for Max Huang to move around in the easiest way so that the weight of the hat didn’t hold him back.”
Similarly, Ireland offers, “We based Shang Tsung’s look on ancient Chinese armor and designed and sculpted a chest plate and shoulders of tortured souls, which we then built a mold from. His costume is very regal and has lots of gold and traditional Chinese-style fabrics and is elaborate and detailed.
“We used a similar approach with Scorpion,” she continues, “basing it on a traditional Japanese Samurai armor and adding a few twists, like the sharp chain from hi kunai on the shoulder plates.”
Of Kano’s costume, the designer says, “It’s based on a military background, with also a nod to cattlemen and farmers with his leather cross belt. He wears a cut-off shirt, Blundstone boots, which is an iconic Australian boot, and cargo pants—very Aussie, very ocker!
“However, we wanted Jax to be quite modern and urban,” she continues, “so we gave him cool designer jeans with a bit of a military vibe and big chunky black boots. And I wanted to give Sonya Blade that feminine silhouette, but she has to be a tough woman as well. Her ‘uniform’ is a tank top, military pants and gloves, so very much in the same world as Jax and Kano but with her own sort of style, keeping her femininity in there too.”
Under the careful eye—and brushes—of makeup and hair designer Nikki Gooley:
● Kano’s tattoo took 40 minutes to apply and lasted three to four days before having to be reapplied.
● Mehcad Brooks’ real-life tattoos had to be covered every day before applying a tattoo especially designed for Jax.
● The original design concept had Bi-Han with long hair, but it didn’t suit Joe Taslim, so Gooley cut the actor’s hair short.
● Taslim wore icy blue contacts as Sub-Zero.
● The designer made the iconic dragon marking slightly raised on the skin, so it looked like a branding.
● The designer built “burnt arm” sleeves for Kabal, rather than having to apply burns to his arms each day.
● KISS rocker Gene Simmons’ tongue inspired prosthetics makeup supervisor Larry Van Duynhoven’s design of Mileena’s tongue.
● To help actor Sisi Stringer keep Mileena’s silicone tongue in place, Van Duynhoven designed a texta (marker pen) lid-type adhesion device, so Stringer could keep the tongue in position as she moved it around.
McQuoid enlisted renowned composer Benjamin Wallfisch to interpret the story’s themes and emphasize the film’s hard-driving, visceral action through a heart-pumping score.
“When I was invited to come on board ‘Mortal Kombat,’ I was fully aware of the responsibility that comes with scoring such an iconic franchise, one that’s so deeply embedded in pop culture,” says Wallfisch. “My very first question was: what can we do with Techno Syndrome? What treasures are in that `90s dance track that could be uncovered, reinvented and blown up to a full-scale symphonic sound world? That task had to be the first step, as it was the most direct way to fully embrace the passionate fanbase of the game and original movies and send a message of respect and mutual love for the original. From there, it was all about developing character and story themes that matched the scale and sheer ambition.