Last year, a video entitled Mortal Kombat: Rebirth appeared on the web with little-to-no explanation. Fans of the game were intrigued by the trailer, but unsure of its origin and intent. Was it a viral marketing campaign for an upcoming game installation, or for a reboot of the film franchise? Shortly after its release, director Kevin Tancharoen (who was best known for helming the remake of Fame at the time) confessed that the short was his public pitch for a feature film that imagined the Mortal Kombat world with a grittier, more realistic tone.
The film was entirely self-made, on a relatively modest budget, and a whole cadre of favors. Many viewers responded with excitement to Kevin's fresh, grounded, and raw approach. While some railed at the loss of the mystical world that the franchise had been famous for. Kevin assured fans that he intended to include mysticism in any feature he would develop, but in a tasteful way.
Warner Bros. did not immediately sign off on a multi-million dollar blockbuster. They did, however, greenlight an anthology of nine live-action shorts (in the vein of Rebirth) that would coincide with the release of the upcoming Mortal Kombat video game (which is being considered a return to form for the franchise). We had the opportunity to interview Jeri Ryan (who plays Sonya Blade in the series), Michael Jai White (who plays Jackson "Jax" Briggs), director Kevin Tancharoen, and original game creator Ed Boon yesterday about the Mortal Kombat: Legacy, the game launch, as well as a potential feature film, and will be bringing you that coverage in the coming days.
In the interim take a look at episode 1 of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, followed by a few teases of our conversations with the series' cast and creators.
The webseries won't necessarily act as a direct prequel to a new film, but it will provide viewers with some back-story on many of the series' more central characters (as imagined by Kevin Tancharoen) and set audiences up for an updated, slightly re-imagined version of the Mortal Kombat Universe.
As you can see, the webseries opens by setting up the rivalry between Jax, Sonya and Kano. When asked if the explosion that we see at the end of this episode and the clip that was released last week, is the cause of the cybernetic upgrades for both Jax and Kano, Michael Jai White said simply (and elusively) that we would, "need to watch." Judging from the clip, the episode, and the trailer, however, it seems a fair guess that this explosion is indeed the cause (certainly it is made clear in the trailer that Jax will receive the upgrades).
See for yourself in the Mortal Kombat: Legacy trailer below:
Jeri Ryan did not directly confirm that Jax and Sonya would spend the bulk of the series chasing Kano, though she did say there was definitely some " very bad blood" (to say the least).
As to the balance between the mystical and mundane realities, Kevin Tancharoen, once again confirmed that he wanted to balance these worlds in a "non-cheesy" manner. He notes that the Sonya, Kano, Jax storyline will take place primarily in the real world, while other stories will take place in other realms. For example, the director confirmed that the image of the two ladies fighting that was released in March, is indeed Mileena and Kitana, and that there rivalry will be explored.
The creators would love for this series to translate into a feature film, but as Tancharoen says the webseries will have to do "very, very well" in order for that to happen. So if you like what you see here today, make sure to share and share alike, spread the word and sound the call for more.
Stay tuned for further details from our conversations (including some updates on a new Black Dynamite film in addition to the cartoon) and the release of our video interviews in the coming days.