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SYFY WIRE Mortal Kombat

Original Cut of 1995's Mortal Kombat Was Missing the One Thing That Makes It a Mortal Kombat Movie

You can't really call it "Mortal Kombat" without...ya know, the Kombat.

By Josh Weiss

If your Mortal Kombat movie doesn't feature any Kombat, can you really call it a Mortal Kombat movie? It's basically the video game equivalent of "If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it..."

That was the conundrum facing producer Larry Kasanoff and director Paul W.S. Anderson once they screened an early cut of their 1995 video game adaptation (now streaming via the SYFY app) for test audiences. While viewers thoroughly enjoyed the movie — which would go on to gross $122 million worldwide and turn Anderson into a hot genre filmmaker — they felt one key ingredient was missing.

Why the Mortal Kombat movie from 1995 added more action during reshoots

"When we tested the first cut of the movie, the audience response was 100 percent uniform, 'We love everything we see. There are not enough fights in this movie,'" Kasanoff recalled during a 20th anniversary interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "We went back and spent a lot more money and we shot more fights."

RELATED: The secrets of Mortal Kombat's fatalitites revealed at C2E2

Anderson confessed that the additional material included his "favorite fights" of the entire film: Scorpion's (Chris Casamassa) face-off with Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) and Reptile's (Keith Cooke and Frank Welker) battle with Liu Kang (Robin Shou).

"We had a very good stunt coordinator, but as the movie went on, I wanted to embrace more of a Hong Kong, wirework martial arts feel," the director explained. "Robin was great for that, and he choreographed the extra fights. He was an actor, but he started as a stuntman in Hong Kong. He worked with Jackie Chan. He had a lot of knowledge. If you look back at Mortal Kombat, it was the first time those big, Chinese wire gags were used in a Western movie. Obviously The Matrix did that to the nth degree several years later. But at the time, Mortal Kombat was very cutting-edge."

Shou's goal was to craft fight choreography that was both grounded and heightened at the same time. "The movement shouldn’t stop," he said. "The characters shouldn’t take a break or take a breather, because if Scorpion wants to kill someone, he’ll go after the guy relentlessly. The same thing with Reptile. There are no pauses. There’s no, 'I knocked you down, I take a breather and then you get up and we fight again.' That’s boring!"

Mortal Kombat (1995) is now available to watch via the SYFY app.

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