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Advice From A Fanboy: Mortal Kombat

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 7 Oct 2011 16:00
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In case you missed the news, Ken Tanchroen - best (only?) known as the director of the Fame remake you already forgot about - has won the job of rebooting Mortal Kombat for Warner Bros. on the strength of his "accidentally leaked" (suuuuure it was...) fan film MK: Rebirth and its subsequent spinoff webseries, which reimagined the absurdly violent horror/fantasy/martial-arts franchise with gritty realism (Reptile is just a serial-killer with a skin condition, Baraka is just a guy with an extreme body-mod fetish, etc.).

I'll be blunt: I wasn't a fan, at all, of Rebirth. The entire gritty reboot trend inspires in me nothing but loathing and contempt, and the "Legacy" follow-up shorts weren't much better - never rising above the level of a Syfy Channel feature. Tanchroen, to be sure, has some basic fundamental filmmaking chops, but I'm not particularly faithful that this project can turn out as anything but a misfire.

Of course, no one from Warner is going to come beating down my door for advice, but, if they had, I probably could've saved them from taking a $200+ million bath this past summer. The director's own description of his vision (he wants a "realistic and gritty" movie without "crazy spurting pools of blood" - exactly what one thinks of when regarding a game about magical ninjas pulling each other's spines out, right?) indicates that he and I seem to simply see Mortal Kombat in different ways. I see it as Mortal Kombat and he sees it as a direct-to-DVD Lionsgate movie, apparently.

But just as a thought-experiment/column-fodder, here's what I'd probably have offered up if someone had asked me. Anyone from Warner Bros. reading this is welcome to consider these freebies, because that's just how swell of a guy I am.

Go Back to the Game

For a change, I can actually make most of my argument in plainly financial terms: Warner Bros? You JUST released a Mortal Kombat game that embraced the series' fistfight-in-a-Halloween-Store aesthetic with an enthusiasm that bordered on the absurd: Color-coded ninjas, robots, interdimensional aliens, literal demons from Hell, four-armed tiger-men, cackling "Oriental" supervillians straight out of Fu-Manchu and fighters spilling gallons of blood somehow released under high-pressure. It is now the biggest-selling product in the series' history. That should tell you something.

The "story mode" and character-interactions of this game were ridiculous, high-camp kung-fu schlock... but it's the ridiculous, high-camp kung-fu schlock Mortal Kombat fans have been mainlining for years and are clearly begging for.

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