What They Said: New 'Mortal Kombat' to be R-Rated; Feel Darker and Grittier

What They Said: New 'Mortal Kombat' to be R-Rated; Feel Darker and Grittier

Sep 30, 2011

Mortal Kombat logoWhile few folks will ever remember the two Mortal Kombat movies as the pinnacle of ‘90s cinema, that isn’t stopping New Line from moving ahead with the game-based franchise’s first new installment in 14 years. The difference this time around is that the studio has hired a filmmaker, Kevin Tancharoen, who actually seems to understand what makes the games popular and is committed to bringing that to the big screen. EW recently caught up with the director and he shared a bit of his vision for the upcoming feature – news that should make Mortal maniacs quite happy.

Tancharoen, who’s been directing the popular Mortal Kombat Legacy web series, wound up with the gig thanks to a happy accident. The director shot a “proof of concept” video for Warner Bros. showcasing what he could do with the franchise. Tancharoen “accidentally” uploaded the clip to YouTube, and it became an overnight Internet sensation. “I was mortified at first because I thought I was going to be in a mess of trouble with Warner Bros.”

If Warners was mad, they didn’t stay angry for long. One look at fan reaction to the clip online convinced the studio that Tancharoen was the man for the gig – and they tasked him with helming Legacy, a web-based series set to coincide with the release of newest game in the long-running franchise. When the game sold more copies than anticipated (which is good, because it’s the best MK game to come along since Mortal Kombat II), Warners decided it was time to relaunch the film series – and Tancharoen was the perfect choice to direct.

New Line President Toby Emmerich explained the rationale behind the decision. “I remembered the old films, which I don’t think left people hungry for more, but when you look at how well the game was doing and you look at what Kevin did with it just on his own, you don’t have to squint too hard to see how it might make a good movie.”

The problem with the original films was that they were cheaply made and featured lots of poor acting – but the biggest issue was that they never felt like Mortal Kombat because they were saddled with a PG-13 rating. The game series that inspired huge cries of controversy (including some from Senator Joe Lieberman) for its graphic violence and gore was essentially neutered for the screen. Tancharoen assures fans that won’t be the case with his new version of the film.

“Up to this point, we’ve only been talking ‘rated R. I like realistic takes on things, I like it when it’s a little darker and grittier. And I want the martial arts to feel real as opposed to balletic and super-choreographed. It needs to feel brutal, because that’s the nature of the video game itself.”

We like what we’re hearing from Tancharoen, but we’ll have to wait until sometime in 2013 to see if the filmmaker can deliver the ultimate Mortal Kombat film or not. Until then, enjoy the clip that got things started below. 

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