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We Watched The First 13 Minutes of Mortal Kombat


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Director Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat is set in present day, aside from the film's prologue sequence before the title card plays. This introduction to the new live-action adaptation of the iconic video game fighting franchise is set in ancient Japan and sets the tone for the film and what viewers will see later while also emphasizing the five guiding principles that needed to be met for producer Todd Garner to get this movie made, and made the right way.

We had the opportunity to view the entirety of the first 13 minutes of Mortal Kombat, and without going into too much detail as to avoid spoilers, it lays the groundwork for a movie universe where the stakes couldn't be higher and where the fights couldn't possibly be more personal or visceral. And that's just scratching the surface.

 

"There were a few things that we said out of the gate," Todd Garner tells us on Mortal Kombat's style and use of brutal fatalities from the video games. "One was that it has to be R-rated. Two, has to be diverse. Three, has to be faithful to the culture of each character. Four, they've got to be martial artists. Five, it would really be good if they were the best martial artists." Garner laughingly adds, "Not surprisingly, that took me seven years to get this movie made."


Garner's "demands" which he later revised to describe "polite requests" with a laugh while labelling himself an independent producer were all in an effort to get everyone on the same page and to take this project and IP seriously. "Please let us do this in the right way. Don't fuck this movie up," he emphasizes as his message. And it worked. The opening sequence of Mortal Kombat doesn't feature a word of English, and the two leads introduced in this scene don't even understand each other. It's part of the reason fan-favorite character Johnny Cage isn't in this film and is being saved for the hopeful sequel.

Mortal Kombat's introduction is shot in the style of a Akira Kurosawa classic and sets the stage for the core feud between Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), who becomes Scorpion, and Bi-Han (Joe Taslim) who becomes the villainous Sub-Zero. For fans of the Mortal Kombat video game lore, the storyline behind the former's clan and family is spot on, whereas Sub-Zero seems to be filling the role of Quan Chi from the games. We have a theory on that though worth reading.

 

"Every single fight in this movie has its own personality," explains Garner. "And it's true to not only the game, but it's true to the character. I can't tell you who's fighting, but there's one of the most brutal fights I've ever seen on film. And it's the most violent hand-to-hand, insane fight, and it's not who you would expect to have the fight."

"When you make that decision to start a movie that way, with no English words spoken in a very Kurosawa way, with revenge and heartbreak and tragedy, that's the movie you're telling. You can't then just shift gears and have the 90s techno soundtrack and everybody in spandex running around, bicycle kicking each other. Once you make that choice, you have to stick with it and, for better or for worse, ride that wave until it crashes. And that's what this movie does."

From the marketing materials and footage shown to us so far, Mortal Kombat isn't like other video game adaptations, and perhaps that's why it's R-rated trailer broke records. "I think a lot of video game movies fail - this is just a theory, I could be wrong, but this is just my gut feel - because they don't respect the material enough," director Simon McQuoid tells us.

There's fundamentals that you cannot change. Because if you start changing those fundamentals, then you are messing with the recipe, and it won't taste like it should. Historically, there's examples where they've taken it and then changed too much. It's like, "Do something new. Don't take that, and then change it. Why are you doing that?" We all never wanted to do that. That was why I talk about respecting the material, respecting the fan base, and also elevating what's there.

Garner explains that with this Mortal Kombat adaptation McQuoid "set out to make the best fighting movie that's ever been made." Garner continues, "Time will tell if he's done it, but the fact that he set that bar and the fact that he cast the best guys and women possibly that could do this movie, not for box office or [because] they have a huge Twitter following or are on a huge hit CW show. But [because] they were the best Liu Kang, they were the best Kung Lao, they were the best Sonya Blade."

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"What I've set out to do from the get-go was to make a gigantic, epic, beautiful, cinematic, respectful experience of the DNA of Mortal Kombat, and of what people love about Mortal Kombat," adds McQuoid in our separate conversation with him. "My goal was - all of our goal, not just me, but everyone involved in the film - to make a film that paid respect and elevated Mortal Kombat to a new place. That's where I feel the new film will reside in, as you say, this rich mixture of different iterations of it. "

The video above is but a few seconds of something that extends over 13 minutes and we can't wait to see more of Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat (2021)
Release Date: Apr 16, 2021

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