The wild original characters who appear in the new ‘Mortal Kombat’ movie

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And you thought Avengers Tower was crowded. 

Nearly 100 characters deep, the long-running “Mortal Kombat” video-game franchise offered a legion of characters for the filmmakers behind the new movie adaptation to choose from. 

“Mortal Kombat” uses only a small fraction of the game’s super-powered ninjas, brutal assassins and four-armed monsters, but even that was probably enough to tax the celebrity trailer supply in Australia, where the film was shot. 

In this reboot of the movie franchise that has been dormant since 1997’s “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” an MMA fighter (Lewis Tan) competes in a violent tournament to save the Earth.

Here’s a guide to some of the kooky characters along for the kombat. 


This ninja was one of the original avatars created for the 1992 game, and he epitomized what was meant to set it apart: namely, ridiculously over-the-top violence and gore. 

Scorpion spears his opponent with a rope dart then yanks them towards him with an emphatic, “Get over here!”  

The new movie has Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) using his signature catchphrase, and other characters will be saying theirs, too. Director Simon McQuoid has admitted that these callbacks could have come off as a bit “odd,” but felt as long as it was done with “respect” for the characters, it would feel authentic. 

Kung Lao 

The Shaolin monk who throws his razor-sharp hat was inspired by Oddjob from the James Bond movies. 

Director McQuoid has said that getting Kung Lao’s deadly, wide-brimmed headgear exactly right was one of the film’s bigger challenges. The production went through nearly 20 different prototypes trying to create one that didn’t look too silly or wasn’t too heavy for actor Max Huang. 


The villainous, frost-throwing ninja was originally created in the 1990s as a nearly mirror image of Scorpion — only with a different color scheme — as a way to save design money. 

In the new film, he’s played by Joe Taslim, an actor and former member of Indonesia’s judo team. 

Taslim was so fast that the filmmakers literally had to ask him to slow down during fight scenes. His mask also had to be redesigned because it kept flying off. 


Like Sub-Zero, Mileena was another avatar that was created in the original video game as a color-swapped double of another character to save moolah. 

But the sai-wielding assassin — played by Sisi Stringer in the movie — has since grown to be among the most popular characters of “Mortal Kombat.” When she was left out of the latest game in the franchise, 2019’s “Mortal Kombat 11,” fans started bombarding the game’s maker with demands for her inclusion. An update added her. 


The special forces badass was introduced in 1993 and was originally based on Marvel’s Luke Cage. (Another character, Johnny Cage, was based on Cage’s martial-artist partner Iron Fist.) 

In the film, Jax (Mehcad Brooks) loses both arms in a fight with Sub-Zero, who freezes them and then rips them off, which leads to Jax getting his trademark bionic replacements. The plot point deviates from what happens in the video game, but McQuoid said he needed to make a change in support of the bigger story.


In the movie, the wisecracking Australian mercenary — played by Josh Lawson — gets to deploy one of the video game’s signatures: the finishing move, a so-violent-it’s-almost-funny killing of an opponent. 

Previous “Mortal Kombat” films have mostly skipped them in order to earn a PG-13 rating. (The new movie, which hits theaters and HBO Max on Friday, is rated R.)  

In a nod to the original video-game fatality, Kano rips out an opponent’s heart. The move was inspired by 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” in which a Thuggee priest does something similar.

Liu Kang

Martial artist Ludi Lin was such a big fan of the franchise that he skipped school to see “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” back in ’97. 

On his way to audition for the new movie, he fell off his skateboard and bloodied his face. He thinks that might have helped him clinch the role. 

Once he was cast as Liu Kang — a monk partly based on Bruce Lee — he spent months playing the video game, but only as Kang, to prepare for the role. 

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