Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mortal Kombat: From Rebirth to Legacy

What originally started as a favor among friends has now finally come to fruition. Mortal Kombat: Legacy, the web-series from Kevin Tancharoen, was released today exclusively to Machinima on YouTube. Almost a year has passed since the leaked YouTube video was first seen as a peek into Tancharoen’s vision of the Mortal Kombat universe.

The clip seen last June, that was just under eight minutes long, was originally not to meant to be shown to the public. Posted under the name Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, the video showed a gritty, realistic look at several of Mortal Kombat’s characters including Scorpion (Ian Anthony Dale), Jax (Michael Jai White), Sonya Blade (Jeri Ryan), Baraka (Lateef Crowder), Reptile (Richard Dorton), Shang Tsung (James Lew), and Johnny Cage (Matt Mullins).

Speculation began about whether it was a teaser for the new game that was just announced a few days before, or for a new feature film. The day after it was seen, Jeri Ryan confirmed via her twitter that it wasn't a trailer at all, but a pitch aimed at Warner Bros., one that wasn't supposed to have been made public.

"I wasn't exactly thrilled that it was leaked," says Ryan now. She had starred in the short film as a favor to Tancharoen. "It wasn’t supposed to go on the internet," Tancharoen echoed. He created the film with his own funding to send to "different producers and things like that." He uploaded it to YouTube and thought he set it to private instead of public. Luckily, Warner Bros. did take notice and signed a deal with the director for a live-action web series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, tying in to the new game which will be released on April 19 for the Xbox 360 and PlaysStation 3.

Tancharoen, who directed the 2009 remake of the 1980 film Fame, said he was nervous when he first found out the clip had been leaked. "Fanboys can tear your head off if they really don't like something. And there's always going to be a mixed audience -- some people hate it; some people love it. But I was very happy with the fact that a majority of it was positive," he said.

Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon also saw the video and felt an instant connection. "I was sent the link like everybody else was, and had the same kind of reaction: blown away and wondering who made this," Boon says. "To me, it was great because it was a contemporary take on it. It wasn't dated in the '90s and all that. It had this kind of very distinct dark style to it that hadn't been presented before. Everybody would always say, in the previous Mortal Kombat movies, 'I want to see one that's darker like the games,' and I think he delivered that and it resonated with a lot of people."

Legacy will have a nine episode run and will highlight fan favorite characters in each episode including Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Johnny Cage, Kitana and Mileena. "It's a complete re-envisioning of this franchise," Ryan said. "And so you're true to the game to an extent and you're true to the history of these characters, but there is no campiness; there is no comic book-y kind of cartoon-y details. This is very gritty -- it's very dark. It's not a kids' show. It's very grownup, and it's just very badass."

Tancharoen says he intentionally shied away from characters like Liu Kang and Raiden, "I really wanted to make the main character someone who you may have not thought it was going to be, and that's why I picked up Jax and Sonya and Scorpion." He also talked about inconsistencies with the Mortal Kombat franchise, such as the absence of Jax’s metal arms. "We didn't ignore it, we just want to make a good reason why he gets them," he teases. This is what the Legacy series is all about. The plan is to show "the stakes and the emotional motivation that all of the main characters have in order to join the tournament," Tancharoen explains. "Because up until now you've never understood why they're all there and why certain relationships are in place; why Scorpion and Sub-Zero hate each other. It's all spoken about, but you've never seen it in its entirety in live-action form."

When asked if he thinks another Mortal Kombat feature film is in the future, Tancharoen answered very honestly, I don't know. If I had sent it over and they liked it, then maybe. But I think the attention it got virally, certainly you can't say that didn't help -- the fact that people were watching it and people liked it, and it had fans. I think that definitely pushed it." Michael Jai White also showed his enthusiasm for his character, saying, "I really would love a crack at taking this into theaters."

1 comment:

  1. how bout bring back the original Rebirth and forget crappy Legacy. the realistic take on Rebirth was so awesome and dark..i loved it. legacy does not leave me excited at all to watch any episode