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Mortal Kombat Director Explains Why There's No Tournament in the Movie

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Director of the new Mortal Kombat movie, Simon McQuoid, has explained why the long-awaited adaptation doesn’t involve a martial arts tournament. For years the various early installments of the highly popular and ultra-violent fighting game involved a brutal martial arts tournament to the death, but even this changed as time went by.

It’s been nearly 30 years since Mortal Kombat was first introduced to gamers. With its fast-paced fighting and unique concept of finishing moves, the game quickly grew in both demand and notoriety. Ultimately, the series moved from arcades to home consoles, and it was from this point onward that Mortal Kombat really began to expand its universe. Yet, despite the devoted fanbase the game has managed to build over the years, the franchise hasn’t been able to successfully expand its creative worlds and characters into a hit film. Two attempts in the late 90s proved forgettable for many, however, McQuoid’s new adaptation could very well end up changing that. The film has only just been released, but so far it seems that fans are far more happy with it than they were with either of the past two films.

Arguably one of Mortal Kombat’s biggest strength is that it doesn’t simply start at the beginning of the franchise’s history and try to faithfully recreate that past. Instead, McQuoid eschewed the idea of a to-the-death martial arts tournament and instead focused on a different plot that serves to introduce and explore some of the games’ most beloved characters. While speaking with Variety recently, McQuoid was asked about the decision to abandon the martial arts tournament concept. Emphasizing that the goal wasn’t just to remake the first film, McQuoid said:

"The story came out of this idea that we didn’t just want to redo the first film. If you look at “Mortal Kombat’s” evolution over the decades, that has evolved and grown beyond the idea of the tournament. That’s obviously essential within the DNA of “Mortal Kombat,” and it’s one of the fundamentals, if you look at where the story has gone. The idea of a tournament within a script informs a certain structure and rhythm. We didn’t really want to serve that. To serve a tournament idea, you have to build it a certain way. So it was a couple of reasons that came to it playing out in the way it did."

The new film focuses on the threat imposed by Outworld Emperor Shang Tsung’s forces on the Earthrealm after he sends his best warrior, Sub-Zero to hunt down MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan). Soon Young is forced to find the best warriors the Earthrealm has to offer in order to defeat the Outworld’s encroaching villains. In this way, the film is able to offer audiences something more than a straightforward tournament. The need for Young to protect himself, his family and the universe from evil is arguably a sturdier basis for a film, allowing potential for future sequels and spin offs.

At present, Mortal Kombat’s somewhat lukewarm critical response shouldn’t be used to gauge how likely (or unlikely) a sequel will be. The film was clearly made for fans after the game franchise’s previous two film adaptations failed to offer much excitement. It remains too early to tell how the fan reaction to Mortal Kombat will influence its future as a movie franchise, but so far, the lack of a tournament doesn’t appear to be cause for complaint.

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