Mortal Kombat's Fascination With Blood Wants to Go Beyond Gory Fatalities

Get ready for Kombat with Cole (Lewis Tan).
Get ready for Kombat with Cole (Lewis Tan).
Image: Mark Rogers/Warner Bros.

Although there’ll be plenty of those too, it seems.

Warner Bros. has stayed relatively quiet about its latest attempt to reboot the beloved, buckets-o’-blood-laden video-game fighting franchise Mortal Kombat as a new movie series so far. But a new preview from Entertainment Weekly reveals that the film is going to go down an alternate path to Neatherrealm’s own reboot of the franchise’s storyline starting with 2011's ninth official entry, simply titled Mortal Kombat.

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While the movie still revolves around some classic Mortal Kombat plot points, like the feud between Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim)’s ninja clans, and the titular inter-planar fighting tournament for the fate of world held by the sinister sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han), it hinges itself on a brand new character for the series: Cole Young, played by Daredevil and Into the Badlands’ Lewis Tan.

A down-on-his-luck MMA fighter, Cole is thrust into the mystical martial arts battle between the guardians of Earth and the “Outer World” (a little less clumsy than “Outworld,” as it is in the games) in a bid to discover more about his mysterious upbringing...like why the hell he’s got the Mortal Kombat logo as a birthmark on his chest.

That’s all very silly, but it’s also very Mortal Kombat, in that it’s outlandish and primarily an excuse to watch a badass, edgy-yet-campy cavalcade of characters punch, kick, and often slice each other to bloody bits. But according to director Simon McQuoid, that literal gore is something his movie wants to use to connect and discuss meanings blood can have beyond simply being what trickles out of you after Scorpion shoves his infamous yanking chain-spear into your torso.

“Blood represents family,” McQuoid told EW. “Blood represents a connection. Blood represents who we are. Without getting too overcomplicated, what we did is use blood executionally.” That’ll be represented in Cole trying to find his own family and legacy, and in the bad blood, literal and otherwise, between Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s generational conflict. But, of course, it also means that “executionally” is just as literal when it comes to aping the gaming series’ infamously over-the-top “fatality” special moves.

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“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,” Tan teased. “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.”

Mortal Kombat is currently set to release in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max April 16.

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DISCUSSION

By
Zippy Zanderhoff

The original Mortal Kombat film was relatively gore-free and sported a PG-13 rating. It’s well-regarded as a campy classic because it understood the essence of the games.

People tend to treat the blood and fatalities as the sole appeal, but that stuff was a means-to-an-end in establishing the franchise’s distinctive B-movie martial arts grindhouse tone.

The original film understood that, and this interview makes me think that McQuoid doesn’t.

This is going to be the Hellboy reboot all over again. The R-rating will just be an excuse for excess without capturing any of the charm or charisma.