Ludi Lin, who plays Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat reboot, emphasizes that the film won't just be about the titular fighting tournament.
Ludi Lin, the actor who portrays Liu Kang in the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot, reveals that the film isn't just about the titular fighting tournament. Previously, the franchise received two feature-length theatrical adaptations: Mortal Kombat (1995) and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997). However, neither film was well-received by fans or critics, and many have been clamoring for a cinematic reboot for over a decade.
The video game series is known for its rich mythology and cinematic storytelling. The universe of Mortal Kombat is split into eighteen realms that the Elder Gods created. The Elder Gods created the Mortal Kombat tournament as a means to keep the realms separate; one realm could only conquer another if they won ten consecutive tournaments. While many games in the series revolve around the eponymous tournament, it often serves as a relatively simple plot device, with a deeper story and character motivations being the real draw to Mortal Kombat's narrative.
Speaking to Collider during their visit to the Mortal Kombat set, Lin made a point to mention that the film will be about more than just the tournament. The actor mentioned that this film needs to justify itself as a narrative, and if it were just about fighting, there would be no reason it couldn't be another game in the series instead. Lin also spoke about the fighting itself being imbued with meaning and that each fight would serve the film's overall thesis. Lin stated that the fighting "has to have meaning... we struggle and we keep struggling because it's meaningful to us."
Joe Taslim, who portrays Bi-Han/Sub-Zero, also discussed the human side of Mortal Kombat's story. Taslim referenced the film's screenplay, citing the characters' journeys and arcs through the film as particular highlights. Considering Sub-Zero is shaping up to be one of the more complicated characters in the film, and Taslim had mentioned Sub-Zero struggling with his humanity as a core element of the character, his comments certainly ring true.
The film's creative team has already made some controversial decisions, like the inclusion of the new character Cole Young and the absence of fan-favorite Johnny Cage. Still, the choice to make Mortal Kombat's narrative about more than a tournament should be seen as a good thing. While the tournament will undoubtedly play an important role in the film, it's best to let it serve as a plot device and give way to the best parts of Mortal Kombat's story, its compelling, character-driven narrative.