It’s a pretty cold, December day – certainly by Los Angeles standards – on the beach. But even though the wind is howling and many are regretting not having warmer jackets, it’s still hard not to have a big grin on your face seeing the likes of Scorpion, Kitana and Kung Lao walking around in full costume.
I visited the set of Mortal Kombat: Legacy II on the final day of production last year, watching returning director Kevin Tancharoen grab a few additional shots he needed, such as Scorpion slamming his foot down towards the camera – likely a POV shot of an unfortunate opponent – and seeing Kitana and Mileena face off, as Season 2 takes the characters into the actual Mortal Kombat tournament, after the set up we saw in Season 1.
I spoke to most of the cast that day, learning about the new season, which debuts September 26th, and what to expect – along with the enthusiasm everyone had for the project and this take on the Mortal Kombat story.
Taking over the role of Johnny Cage this season is Casper Van Dien (Starship Trooper), who recalled playing the original game. “I played it when it first came out. I remember putting quarters in the machine at the corner store. I played as Johnny Cage and it’s just so much fun for me to now be a part of this and be a part of the history. I love Kevin’s vision and I love who they’ve cast in this and how it’s been written.”
Van Dien noted, “There’s humans in this world and then there’s these godlike characters. It’s fantastic – he’s this egotistical actor and it’s fun to play that. I feel honored and thrilled to be doing it.”
When it comes to Johnny’s perception of the tournament, Van Dien remarked, “I don’t know if he totally grasps it or what it is and he’s a little out of his element. It’s exciting, because there are really the two teams, more or less and then there’s also Johnny’s team… and Johnny’s the most important character on his team and his favorite player and his favorite person, so it’s fantastic for him.”
With a laugh, Van Dien self-deprecatingly noted, “He’s narcissistic. He’s also the D-list actor… I’m not quite sure why they cast me! I’m not quite sure what this is saying about me, my character or my acting abilities. I have no idea!”
“I have some of the greatest fight scenes,” Van Dien said, noting his real life skill level matched his character. “Mine would be exactly what Johnny Cage was trained for – for films, for film fighting. “
Van Dien said he wasn’t surprised to see some fans were happy, some were not, hearing about his casting, but recalled a tweet he got from a fan that made him smile. The tweet read, “F**king Johnny Rico is F**king Johnny Cage. F**king awesome!”
Ian Anthony Dale has been with Tancharoen from the beginning, appearing as Scorpion in the self-produced trailer he made to get himself officially attached to the project, Mortal Kombat Rebirth, and now in both seasons of MK: Legacy. Dale said it had been an exciting collaboration, remarking, “Kevin is such an ambitious, talented young filmmaker. I discovered that very early on when we worked on Mortal Kombat Rebirth. My relationship with him is one where if he wants me to come work on something with him, I’ll drop everything and come and play. I always have a lot of fun and he’s got such a great vision and the product speaks for itself. “
Dale said he loved getting to delve into Scorpion’s history on Legacy, noting, “You get to see why he’s on this path of vengeance. I think the fans really get a kick out of learning what motivates these characters to be who they are and do what they do now."
He explained, “In Season 2, we pick up where that left off and now Hanzo Hasashi has kind of transformed and been to hell and back and is now Scorpion and his whole intention is to get vengeance for this family and clan. At this point, there’s no more good Hanzo, there’s bad Scorpion and he’s out for blood.”
Tancharoen is attached to direct a new Mortal Kombat movie. When I asked Dale about that and whether he might be a part of it, he replied, “I love playing Scorpion and this is my third opportunity I’ve gotten to get to play him. And if the stars align and everything works out then I would love the opportunity to play Scorpion in the feature. If Kevin calls me up one day and lets me know that’s moving forward, well, that will be a great day and I’ll be very happy, but it’s not something I need to badger him about.”
Despite being the lead in the Mortal Kombat movies, Liu Kang was absent from Legacy’s first season, but that changes in Mortal Kombat Legacy II, as we meet the character, played by The Wolverine’s Brian Tee.
Even how this Liu Kang looks here – brooding, in normal street clothes, hoodie included – is a far cry from previous portrayals of the character. Said Tee, “Me and Kevin talked about it and at first, Kevin wasn’t so enthusiastic about bringing Liu Kang back unless we were going to completely try and flip the script and the image of Liu Kang. When I was a kid, I never wanted to be Liu Kang, to be honest. To a lot of people, he was really cool, but to me, as a gamer, he really was a caricature of something that was already created, being Bruce Lee and the legend that he is.”
Tee recalled, “I was taken aback at the fact that they wanted me to play Liu Kang. But once I read the script, I knew I had to play it. I felt like I was the one who should play it and dove right in with both feet and really tried and create the character that the writers and Kevin envisioned. I think the fans will definitely be surprised, more so pleasantly surprised by what we’ve done with it. “
We’ll see how different this Liu Kang is very early on, and Tee described this version as, “Brutal, raw and real. I think the intro is kind of the antithesis of… It’s kind of the epitome of where Kevin has taken Mortal Kombat, grounded in character, yet very brutal and raw. Episode 1 has all of that, especially with the Liu Kang character. You’ve never seen Liu Kang in this light, ever. You’ll still see hints of [the classic] Liu Kang, but a much more dark, raw and real Liu-Kang.”
Playing Kung Lao is Mark Dacascos, known for everything from Hawaii Five-0 to The Iron Chef. We’re meeting Kung Lao for the first time in Legacy in Season 2, and Dacascos explained, “He is a Shaolin Monk and he’s very good friends, best friends, with the character Liu Kang, played by the wonderful Brian Tee. He’s a very skillful in marital arts and his specialty weapon is his hat.”
Dacascos noted that his kids were huge Mortal Kombat fans, but, “I tried playing and they kicked my butt. I’m not good enough!” He loves his character’s dichotomies, remarking, “He’s a fighting Shaolin Monk. So he doesn’t want to fight, but if things go down, he is going to finish it.“
Working with Tancharoen was a thrill for Dacascos, who said, “What got me really excited about the show was seeing his trailer [for Rebirth] and then seeing the first ten episodes of the first season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. To me, it looks better than most television shows and as good, if not better, than a lot of movies – and it’s a webseries! He gives the fans all of the action they could want, but he was also interested in a great story and a wonderful relationship between the characters.”
Dacascos said all shared the excitement on set. “For all of us, I feel like it’s a passion project. We’re all extremely excited to be here. The cast and the crew, they know that Kevin and our postproduction team are going to cut together some great material and it’s something we can all be very proud of. “
Kontinue to Page 2 for info on Kitana, Mileena and a very familiar Shang Tsung.
Source : ign[dot]com