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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

We’ve Seen the Brutal, Action-Packed First 13 Minutes of ‘Mortal Kombat’!

Between the fatality-filled red-band trailer and its R-rating, the new James Wan produced Mortal Kombat has quickly become one of the most anticipated titles of 2021 so far. A month ahead of its April 16 release, Warner Bros. invited Bloody Disgusting to check out the violent 13-minute opening sequence of the film, then chat with director Simon McQuoid and co-producer Todd Garner about what we’ve seen. The details and insights learned from the footage only increase anticipation for the film’s release.

Mortal Kombat opens to a peaceful Japanese home nestled in a quiet forest. After a loving exchange, Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) leaves his wife, son, and newborn baby at the house while he heads out to collect water from a stream. The wife and son try to soothe the fussy baby to sleep when the wife remarks how cold the house seems. Outside, there are brief but sudden sounds of combat and the shadowed silhouette of the guard stationed just outside gets run-through, his blood splattering the fusuma walls as the blade cuts through it. The son carefully tucks the baby beneath the floorboards. Bi-han (Joe Taslim) steps through the gap, quietly demanding to know Hanzo Hasashi’s location. He tries to disarm the wife and son’s fear through friendly small talk and shows them his ability to conjure up ice on a whim. When they still won’t budge, his friendly demeanor breaks.

The wife’s scream reverberates through the forest, and Hanzo drops his water buckets to rush back home. He fights his way through Bi-han’s guards, bones crunching and blood spraying as he takes them out with ease. He makes his way to his wife and son, both dead and melded together in a grisly ice sculpture. It leads to a brutal fight to the death between Hanzo and Bi-han. Bi-han deals a mortal blow and leaves, but not before Hanzo warns Bi-han never to forget his face. The baby cries out, but Hanzo perishes before he can get to the baby. His body erupts in flames and dissipates into ash. Then, lightning touches down. Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) arrives, retrieves the baby, then zaps out again. Cue the title card.

Here’s just a tease of what we saw…

The film’s opening begins by introducing the rivalry between Hanzo and Bi-han, who will become Scorpion and Sub-Zero, in an unexpected way. Critical moments of this sequence can be glimpsed in the trailer, including the wife and son’s icy aftermath. McQuoid explains the choice to start the story in this way, “There’s a couple of things going on there. One is the story, and one is the stylistic approach. Those are fundamental story things that pay off that we come to see later. And then stylistically, what I wanted to say in those 13 minutes was that it’s a beautiful cinematic elevated rendition of the brutality and the power of what Mortal Kombat is.”

Garner elaborates, “So the first 13 minutes does more than just set the tone. There’s no English in it, they’re speaking Japanese and Chinese. You have to read, which is unusual for an American action movie. You’re setting up romance, you’re setting up tragedy, you’re setting up this longstanding hatred for one another. You’re having a guy attempt genocide on a clan and then the reaction to that. So, there’s a lot going on in that first scene. And that first scene is very reminiscent of a Kurosawa movie.”

The fight scenes are each treated differently to match the character specifically. “When you go later into the film, each fight is treated that way. Who’s fighting, what is the style, what’s happening in this scene? What should that look like? There’s a hand-to-hand fight in this movie that is so brutal that it is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s intense and violent and messy and disturbing, which is totally different than the scene you saw, which is different than the end scene, which is different than the middle scene,” Garner says of their approach to this martial arts movie.

While the opening does showcase excellent fight choreography and bloodletting, it’s the tip of the iceberg compared to what’s in the trailer. When asked about the R-rating and the amount of gore still to come, McQuoid answered, “Everyone wanted to do justice to Mortal Kombat. That was from day one. Obviously, we had to be a bit careful of how you can get to NC-17 territory pretty quick. It’s different in a video game when it’s not real human beings. When you move this across to reality, a different set of things start to happen in your mind, and you get to write it slightly differently. So, certain things in the game would mean the film would be unreleasable, and none of us wanted that. We knew it was a balance, but from day one, everyone knew that we had to do Mortal Kombat justice with that. There are several fatalities.”

Helping production avoid the NC-17 rating was Kill Bill’s line producer E. Bennett Walsh, who had plenty of experience with violent, blood-drenched action movies. For the most part, everything is handled as practically as possible, including the blood. That was by design. Garner relays McQuoid’s insistence for practical, “His true North Star was no CG. There’s no wires in the fights. Maybe for somebody not to hurt themself, other than that, no. There’s no CG in the backgrounds when he can help it. Goro isn’t a puppet, it’s CG. But he wanted to do everything real and feel it. He fought hard for practical whenever he could. The use of blood and blood splatter, for that matter, it’s practical where it can be and only CG if there was no way to get it in the shot or we had to because of production. It’s not very often.”

The opening scene succeeds in setting up emotional stakes while effectively teasing just how brutal the fight sequences will get. While neither Garner nor McQuoid confirmed, the baby that Raiden ran off with at the end of the scene suggests how exactly newcomer Cole Young (Lewis Tan) will fit into this franchise. That Cole Young seems to favor the color yellow also contributes to this. 

Before our conversation wrapped up, the director left us with two exciting teases for fans of the games. The first tease is buried within McQuoid’s explanation for introducing the new character Cole Young, “We felt that there was a need to go for the classic set as much as we could. There’s a big opportunity with lots of characters; there’s 80 odd characters. [The games] bring new characters in all the time. It’s why we felt we could bring a new character into this film because precedent and helped us story-wise. But that was the reason, it just seemed like a classic set with a few extras. And then there are some things you’ll see that have yet to be revealed.” That means that we can definitely expect some character surprises in store.

As for the 1995 film’s beloved “Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat)” theme song, will we hear it in the new movie? “The answer is yes. What Ben Wallfish, the composer, did is he took the song and did a forensic study on it; a musical deep dive into what builds that song and what’s created, how it got created. Multiple things are going on in that song that he pulled apart and used.

“It becomes a big elevated cinematic score that uses DNA and elements of that song. There are some times it gets quite overt. Other times are quite subtle, like Raiden’s theme is actually a slowed-down version of that song. There’s lots of different ways we’ve used it. I won’t ruin the surprise for you, but the little 90s kid inside you will be very happy by the end of this film.”



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3656215/weve-seen-brutal-action-filled-first-13-minutes-mortal-kombat/

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