Mortal Kombat has transcended beyond being a bloody video game where ninjas, spectres, shapeshifters, and four-armed creatures battle for the fate of the world. It has gone on to receive several big-screen adaptations, which have been received by the audiences and critics in different manners. That said, this isn’t Shakespeare, so if anyone is expecting a thought-provoking tale about morality and the duality of human nature, they will be sorely disappointed.
What most people can agree on, though, is how Paul W. S. Anderson’s 1995 Mortal Kombat movie hits the spot. The film may not be perfect or the greatest video game adaptation ever made, but it’s a good time – and once that techno soundtrack hits in the intro credits, everyone is dancing. However, it wasn’t all dancing and quipping about $500 sunglasses, as serious work took place behind the scenes to ensure the film was the best it could be.
In 1995’s Mortal Kombat, Linden Ashby plays the role of Johnny Cage. In a 20-year anniversary panel, director Paul W. S. Anderson revealed that the late Brandon Lee had been considered as a possibility to be Cage at one point, though no offer had been extended to The Crow actor. In the end, the part went to Ashby, who audiences may have recognised from his stint on Melrose Place.
According to Anderson’s comments to The Hollywood Reporter, the script was still being worked on while they were in pre-production. Nonetheless, he still encouraged his actors to improvise in the moment. He explained how a lot of the iconic moments came directly from Ashby and Christopher Lambert, who portrays Lord Raiden. Ashby confirmed, stating the lines, “Let’s dance” and “Those were $500 sunglasses, a**hole,” were all conceived in the spur of the moment.
Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon wasn’t the biggest fan of the script either. As he revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, he and John Tobias had several notes about it. For them, it seemed like it was rooted in comedy far too much, and some individuals behaved out of character – notably Raiden.
The Mortal Kombat screenwriter wasn’t happy with the changes
Mortal Kombat‘s screenplay is credited to Kevin Droney. However, Linden Ashby didn’t think the writer was too impressed by the alterations made to the original script. “I remember seeing Kevin Droney at a Christmas party after the movie had come out,” Ashby said. “And he introduced me to his date and goes, ‘This is the guy I told you about. This is the a**hole that ruined my script.” [Laughs.] I was like, ‘Oh, hi.’”
As Ashby explained, he doesn’t think the final story was something sensational or out of this world, but it was entertaining. And that specifically mattered for this kind of movie to be successful. Lambert was a fan of the story from the get-go, saying: “I had lunch with Paul Anderson and [producer] Larry Kasanoff, and they offered me the part. They gave me the script, and it was a fun script.”
Ultimately, 1995’s Mortal Kombat proved to be a mega-hit at the box office, bringing in $122.2 million from a $20 million budget. A sequel was quickly greenlit and ushered into production, arriving in November 1997. However, neither Paul W. S. Anderson or Linden Ashby returned for Mortal Kombat Annihilation – in fact, quite a few cast members declined the opportunity to do so. Also, it isn’t exactly remembered as a good movie. If people had problems with the 1995 movie’s script… Well, this one was simply on another level.
Sergio Pereira is a prolific and recognised journalist and writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. His expertise encompasses the topics of comic books, film, television, and video games. For over 16 years, he has built up his reputation and knowledge in entertainment journalism by writing for and learning from the world's largest publications.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities, such as Andy Serkis, Ben Barnes, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright and Frank Miller. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a regular columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, Thought Catalog and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.