‘Glee’ director prepares for ‘Mortal Kombat’ film

Sept. 30, 2011 | 1:03 p.m.

Kevin Tancharoen photographed in 2009 (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Kevin Tancharoen didn’t originally intend for the world to see his “Mortal Kombat” work. The 27-year-old director of “Fame” and “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” made an eight-minute video last year called “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” that featured a new, grittier setting and origins for characters from the 19-year-old video game fighting series. His intention was to show the short to executives at Warner Bros. and its label New Line Cinema and demonstrate  that despite his background in choreography and directing the unsuccessful 2009 remake of “Fame,” he was the right choice to bring Mortal Kombat back to the big screen after a 14-year absence.

However, a YouTube snafu resulted in “Rebirth” being posted publicly on the site, where it garnered millions of views thanks in part to supportive tweets from celebrities such as “The Guild” creator Felicia Day, who, like Tancharoen, is represented by International Creative Management.

Based on the short’s viral success, Warner Bros. gave Tancharoen $2 million to produce a nine-episode Web series, called “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” in support of the new Mortal Kombat game it released in April. Now New Line has agreed to make a new Mortal Kombat movie with Tancharoen directing. Shooting is expected to start in March, with the movie coming out in 2013. The director talked to Hero Complex contributor Ben Fritz about the road so far.

BF: In all honestly, when you made “Rebirth,” how likely did you think it was you’d be here now, about to direct a full-length feature film?

KT: It was such a crapshoot for me. I honestly felt it was 50/50. Previous to doing it I had some discussions with Warner executives about Mortal Kombat, but they didn’t go anywhere. This video was meant to be a showcase that I didn’t only have to do dancing stuff, even though that was primarily my background. I was desperate to get into the genre space. As a director you can get typecast just like an actor. I knew nobody would risk putting my name in front of a genre movie. There would be an outcry by fans with everyone asking, “Why are you getting the guy who did ‘Fame’ to make ‘Mortal Kombat’?” I knew I had to get some credibility.

BF: So what’s your background with Mortal Kombat? How long have you been a fan?

KT: It goes back to when I was 13 or 14. It was my favorite game at the arcade, back when arcades existed. Then when they started coming out for Super Nintendo, I bought them all and I still have up to this day. Like everyone, I was mad when they made one that didn’t have any blood.

BF: So who was your favorite character?

KT: I always played Scorpion because I could remember his special move very easily. In the second game I think I switched to Baraka, but Scorpion has always been the go-to character for me.

BF: Both “Rebirth” and “Legacy” were more grounded and realistic than a lot of us are used to from certainly the first two movies. Is that what we should expect from your movie?

KT: Yes, my sensibilities lean more toward realism as opposed to the more mythological stuff that Mortal Kombat automatically has. You can expect more of that instinct in the feature version. It will be more realistic and gritty than the last two movies, but also a very big story.

BF: You created some new origins for the Mortal Kombat characters in your Web shorts. Will you use similar origins in the movie?

KT: Yes. Although we’re very adamant that you don’t have to be a fan of the games to understand what’s happening in the movie. It will be an origin story that you can understand completely from the film. Over nine games, the mythology has gotten quite complicated.

BF: You’re making this movie for Warner Bros. and Mortal Kombat is now made by Warner Bros. So have you gotten to work together with [Mortal Kombat creator] Ed Boon?

KT: Yes, Ed Boon is completely supportive. He understands that to tell a really good story, Mortal Kombat needs to be taken back to basics. [Writer Oren Uziel and I] sat down and talked with Ed over breakfast at Comic-Con. A lot of our ideas are in line. I’ve got to admit I was very nervous … but a lot of our ideas connected.

BF: So is there any question your movie will be rated R and be just as violent as fans expect?

KT: I want to do it rated R and all the discussions have been for it to be rated R. I want it to be bloody, but in a natural sense and not gratuitous, crazy spurting pools of blood. That takes it to a different level of camp.

BF: So you want to have more of a Christopher Nolan-like approach than the 1990s movies?

KT: The cartoonish version has been done. Chris Nolan started the trend of making everything in this type of genre grounded. What took most people by surprise with my shorts, I think, is that you never would think of putting Mortal Kombat in a realistic setting. But I believe it’s a fighting game and it’s meant for that purpose.

– Ben Fritz

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Comments


26 Responses to ‘Glee’ director prepares for ‘Mortal Kombat’ film

  1. Rodriguez says:

    Which is the best video game movie? I'd say Tomb Raider.

  2. PJM says:

    If it's gonna be anything like Rebirth of Legacy, it's gonna suck and not capture the feeling presented in the games (especially the originals), just like the first two movies never did.

    Swapping out the guys who played Jax and Kano might salvage the production, though. Aside from that, I smell a standard crap VG adaptation of Tekken, Max Payne and Chun Li caliber.

    • pjm is a douche says:

      do you even know what you are talking about? jax is black, kano is not. you are just plain out full blown retarted. you sir, should die.

      • Beardigan says:

        I think he meant swap out the actors for different ones to play the parts. Not swap actors to play the other character. If I read your comment correctly I'm assuming thats what you meant?

  3. CALIFORNIAMARTY says:

    This young director shows that imagination and creativity backed by believing in one's self and of course talent can pay great dividends. He is only 27 and his career bio reads like someone much much older.
    Kevin Tancharoen will become one of the greats in time and this is just the beginning.

  4. CALIFORNIAMARTY says:

    This young director shows that imagination and creativity backed by believing in one's self and of course talent can pay great dividends. He is only 27 and his career bio reads like someone much much older. The man knows how to keep it interesting in each scene.

  5. Araceli says:

    They should release the movie in 2012 instead i cant wait that long until 2013 thats to long and they should just change sonya she is to old we need someone younger and Shao Kahn doesnt look evil enough the rest of the characters are great and hope scorpion and sub zero dont have that costume they look so fake no offence but i love scorpion too wheres liu kang and smoke??/

    • Alex G. Griner says:

      smoke not needed as much if u want smoke add noob saibot witch backward is well if u dont no. But u can use liu or at least kung loa. I have faith for this MK. All the peps talking crap are retarded u do better lets see what people say about your idea.

  6. Steve says:

    BF: Both “Rebirth” and “Legacy” were more grounded and realistic than a lot of us are used to from certainly the first two movies. Is that what we should expect from your movie?

    KT: Yes, my sensibilities lean more toward realism as opposed to the more mythological stuff that Mortal Kombat automatically has. You can expect more of that instinct in the feature version. It will be more realistic and gritty than the last two movies, but also a very big story.

    – Great. Mortal Kombat in name only. *sigh*

  7. Arslan says:

    I love kevin's work of web series On mortal kombat legacy andiwill expect from him that he will make an awsome movie too
    Keep on good work kevin

  8. Rashad says:

    This sounds terrible. Removing everything that makes it Mortal Kombat and swapping it for the tired and boring 'realistic" take. Yawn.

  9. Anthony says:

    BRING BACK LATEEF CROWDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Baramos says:

    If they can get the same guy to play Liu Kang I'm in for it.

    @Steve: If you watch the shorts they're pretty fantastical. Much less gritty than the trailer.

  11. Ben says:

    'Rebirth' was the biggest pile of crap with no relation to what Mortal Kombat should be on the big screen. Personally I prefer the first two Mortal Kombat movies any day because ok they weren’t the best they could have been but they followed the MK story. Lets get real here MK is a fictitious story, so don’t waste your time trying to make it 'realistic'. You’re just going to make a big pile of crap that nobody is going to like other than some crazy who probably never even played MK. Not a single movie so far which was meant to be based on the game has been successful so far. The reason why is because of thinking like this. They take what everyone wants to see and likes about the rich story of the game and water it down into some rubbish which is totally unrecognisable to fans. The announcement of a new MK movie is going to create huge expectations and this guy is going to make a huge anti-climax.

    • ValeMaggot says:

      http://www.youtube.com/show/mortalkombatlegacy?s=

      Here is a link to the web series (Mortal Kombat Legacy) that he did after Rebirth, his new movie will be more like these than Rebirth, and I think they're fantastic, a lot closer to the actual MK story.

    • GlaphanKing says:

      Transformers was fake and they made it into a believable story. It spanned 3 movies. All the comic book stories made realistic make huge bank. The first mortal kombat movie was the best. It captured the essence. The second tried way too hard and would have been better had they had better technology. The web series had its bad parts (i.e. mileena and kitana) but I thought Raiden's story was a great spin on his origin to the first game. Scorpion and Sub-Zero's origin was fantastic staying almost true to the comic. Kano and Sonja's story added to what was already there from the first movie. I think you need to take a step back, put the controller down and enjoy someone at least attempting to transform a video game into real life and make it believable. Whether or not its good is not the point. Video Games to Movies aren't destined to be successful but sometimes they do. Sometimes staying too true to the game makes for a bad movie (i.e. Tekken, DOA, Doom, etc.).

  12. Grizzly says:

    Why do all the movie directors these days try to make fantasy movies more realistic? Kinda kills the point of making a fantasy type movie. So instead of sub-zero shooting ice blasts out of his hands he's gonna pick up chunks of ice and throw them at his opponents? lol.

    • CGM NaniwaTiger says:

      MK has already tried the fantasy approach and we progressed from a decent first film to the utter piece of trash that is Annihiliation. Time to try something else, and as we saw in Legacy every aspect of the MK mythology can be represented in the vision he has. I have complete faith that he will make a great MK movie.

  13. ValeMaggot says:

    http://www.youtube.com/show/mortalkombatlegacy?s=

    I absolutely loved the web series, and am looking forward to the new feature film.

  14. Rob says:

    I think he did a really great job with the web series. It really brought the love of MK back for me, and all the haters should shut the fuck up and be thankful that he's definitely not going to make some sort of gigantic cheesefest along the lines of Annihilation

  15. Anthony says:

    Boon isn't going to let some guy run his baby. As for the "realism" use that term loosely. Rebirth was just sort of a one off thing, if you have watched the rest of the Legacy series you know that he has done the mytho stuff too. Scorpion brought back from the dead, Shang Tsung being able to stop time, the whole Kitana, Mileena, Shao Kahn story. I think it's gonna be ok guys.

  16. corad says:

    frankly this project is irrelivent since the latest mortal kombat games story mode gives people the story of mortal kombat with all the flair of o movie

  17. Dida says:

    Im so excited i can not wait till 2013, y couldnt it b 2012!!!!

  18. Princess Kitana says:

    What about kitana and mileena and jade and skarlet nitara and li mei and frost and I think it should be based on deadly alliance make a deadly alliance movie that was the best mk game in the series

  19. denis says:

    I won't watch new Mortal Kombat, if it will be the same as Legacy. I like mortal kombat for mythology, original stories, but not a realism. I like idea about blood.

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