I played a lot of “fighting” games as a kid. Double Dragon. Street Fighter. Killer Instinct. They were all pretty good. But there was one fight franchise that stood tall over all the others, and that was Mortal Kombat. I loved the characters, I loved how violent the game was, with all its fatalities and babalities (don’t ask), and I loved the “Finish Him!” refrain at the end of a hard-fought match. Of course, none of this translated well to the big screen, as Paul W.S. Anderson‘s 1995 movie was more or less unwatchable, even to an 11-year-old boy hopped up on theater concessions. But nearly 25 years have passed, and now the time has come for New Line to give the Mortal Kombat franchise a Round 2, so to speak. Today brings word of the first casting news, and while The Hollywood Reporter delivered the hot scoop, you might want to bundle up before reading.
It seems that The Raid star Joe Taslim, himself an accomplished martial artist, has been cast as Sub-Zero, who fights with ice. I’m a little surprised that Sub-Zero was the first character cast, as he was never a real favorite among my friends and younger brothers (we preferred Scorpion), but he is one of the original characters, and Taslim’s casting certainly signals a commitment to authenticity. The bar for martial arts movies has been raised over the past 25 years, and action-loving audiences want to see actors who can actually perform these crazy moves. It’s one thing to see Keanu Reeves taking on an army of Agents in The Matrix, but it’s quite another to see Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian go at it in The Raid. They may not be movie stars like Reeves, but they’re way more accomplished when it comes to hand-to-hand combat.
This new Mortal Kombat movie hails from Simon McQuoid, a veteran commercial director who will be working from a script by Greg Russo. New Line’s resident hitmaker James Wan is producing via his Atomic Monster banner along with Todd Garner, while executive producers include Larry Kasanoff, E. Bennett Walsh, Sean Robins and Atomic Monster’s Michael Clear. Production will start later this year in southern Australia.
Plot details are currently being guarded by Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, but it’ll be interesting to see whether all the characters will be thrown together in a fight tournament, or whether the filmmakers have other means of getting the gang back together again.
First released in 1992, the Mortal Kombat games have sold over 49 million copies, and Mortal Kombat 11 became the most successful launch in the franchise’s history when it was released back in April. The success of the 1995 movie ($122 million worldwide) led to a 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, that was most memorable for its techno-themed soundtrack.
Taslim has been building out his Hollywood resume since his breakout turn in The Raid, having appeared in Fast & Furious 6 and Star Trek Beyond. An alum of Indonesia’s national Judo team, he also starred in the incredibly violent Netflix movie The Night Comes for Us. Taslim is represented by ICM Partners, and THR broke the news of his casting.