It doesn’t really seem all that long ago, but twenty years ago, we were first introduced to the first live action film adaptation of Mortal Kombat. There have been a few more incarnations, such as the mixed bag of Mortal Kombat Legacy, the bag of dicks known as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and for one last bag joke, the dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers Mortal Kombat Live.
Let’s go back to that mystical year of 1995–the MK game series was still dancing (or splattering blood) in our heads, and then we heard the impossible—they were making Mortal Kombat into a movie. Images of bloody spinal cords, gory decapitations,and perhaps a few sweet ‘Flawless Victories’ danced about in our skulls. We speculated that perhaps this would be R rated extreme kung fu violence at its finest. But we didn’t really get any of that.
Not to complain of course, because the imagination always seems to create a bigger mental hype than the juggernaut that is Hollywood. But let’s take a look back at a few key bits of trivia you might not know about Mortal Kombat. Here we go:
Kano Was Faking It
Within the game lore, Kano was intended as a Japanese-American character. Trevor Goddard, who brought Kano to life on the screen, impressed MK creators Ed Boon and John Tobias in the role. Hell, he impressed them so much that they decided to retcon Kano’s origins to that of an Aussie. The funniest part of all this? Drew was actually an Englishman who merely claimed he had an Aussie background. So Kano’s character was changed on the basis of a lie.
The Original Script Was More Violent
As it often goes, we often hear that ‘the script was better’ (we’re looking at you, Josh Trank). But in this case, it definitely stings a bit to know that yet again, we were promised something that Hollywood didn’t deliver on. Honestly, how can you really censor a game known for its insane brutalities? Director Paul W.S. Anderson had this to say (Via):
“We needed to make the movie PG-13. That was a tough one, being a very violent video game. We got in real close with the ratings board to find out how many curse words you could have, how much blood you can have. What we learned was if you killed a human onscreen, you got an R rating. What we needed to do was, any deaths that happened onscreen needed to have something other than a human. If you look at our movie, we had Goro killed onscreen, but you could get away with that and still get a PG-13 rating.”
The OG script itself promised more violence (natch) and excessive language as well. One can only imagine…”Get over here…FUCKFACE!”
Brandon Lee Was Set To Star
Brandon Lee was slated to star in the film as Liu Kang. Tragically, his life was cut short by a heinous accident on the set of his final film, The Crow. One could only wonder what might have been. It still might have sucked, but I mean come on, this is Brandon Lee!
Tom Cruise–Johnny Cage?!
Yup, you heard (or read) that correctly. Tom Cruise (along with Johnny Depp) was originally considered for the the role of Johnny Cage. Makes sense, I suppose. Both actually do their own stunts and like fighting creatures from Outworld. Y’know, like Goro, Shang Tsung, Xenu…
Steven Spielberg Wanted In
Steven Spielberg, who is a huge gamer, wanted a cameo in the film. Unfortunately, he was too busy and there was a conflict of scheduling, as they say. If you remember Johnny Cage’s entrance in the film, you’ll see the director of the movie-within-the-movie was curiously Spielberg-like. Well, now you know why.
Sean Connery was initially offered the role of the lightning god Raiden, but reportedly turned down the role to golf. Yup–golf. We all know that Christopher Lambert got the role, but oddly enough, they couldn’t afford him to go to Thailand (only being signed to shoot scenes in LA). So Lambert flew out and filmed (all on his own dime) and even paid for the cast party. Whatta guy.
Wait a minute…Sean Connery, Christopher Lambert? Holy shit, that’s a pretty sweet Highlander connection. But what about the Mortal Kombat cartoon? Who voiced Raiden? Holy shit… Well, you know what they say–“There can be only one!!”
Liu Kang In Limbo
Robin Shou, Haru’s big brother, wasn’t initially interested in the role of Liu Kang as he assumed the role would leave him stereotyped as an Asian villain. His agent insisted that look into the role. Delighted, he went for it. Astonishingly, he had to audition for the role seven times. Despite the fact that the guy’s a decent actor, a competent martial artist, and a dead ringer for Liu, they apparently needed to be sure.
Cameron Bows Out
While Bridget Wilson-Sampras may have stolen our hearts as Sonya Blade, there was another Hollywood dream girl in the mix. Cameron Diaz, fresh off her heart-stopping appearance in The Mask, was originally cast as Sonya. Cameron accidentally broke her right wrist before production, while training, and had to bow out as a result.
Goro Was a Diva
Goro – the 1 million dollar puppet – came to life on set via anywhere from 13-16 puppeteers depending on the day’s shooting. Naturally, this sort of level of mechanization can be troublesome (ask Bruce The Shark), and Goro apparently took full advantage of this by breaking down at nearly every junction, causing shooting delays. Jeez, no wonder Johnny punched him in the dick. Well, that and those were $500 sunglasses, asshole.
When this weird lizard/acid flashback takes over an Outworld statue, it becomes the mysterious Reptile; but there’s a cool easter egg there. If you listen close, you can hear Shang Tsung call out “Reptile”–a direct lift from MK2.
Yup, it’s been twenty years. If you haven’t seen it in a while, treat yourself. Sure, it’s cheese, but it’s nostalgic memory cheese–which we know is the best kind. Not like that hunk of cheddar that we lost in the couch a few weeks ago, though.
Also, because we’re bastards: Everything Wrong With Mortal Kombat