Today’s the 20th birthday of the original Mortal Kombat movie. Sure, it got panned by critics, but it was at least better than Super Mario Bros, making $122 million worldwide and did the rare thing of pleasing the fans of the game in question. But what a lot of people may not know is that making the movie was painful.
No, I mean like, literally physically painful. The Hollywood Reporter has published a long and fascinating piece on the making of the first Mortal Kombat movie, and pain was a recurring thing during development. Linden Ashby (Johnny Cage) got the worst of it, according to himself, Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and director Paul WS Anderson:
Anderson: “I remember Linden Ashby as well. He was eating Advil like they were M&M’S. We just kicked the hell out of him during that fight. I remember him coming off set going, “I’ve never been in so much pain in my life.” And I’m like “How many ribs have you broken? Robin’s broken three!”
Shou: “For the Johnny and Scorpion fight, the difficult part was to convince Linden that he could do everything. He’s an actor. He said, “Give me as stunt double!” and I go, “Linden, you can totally do this. The more you do, the more realistic and the more believable the scene is.” He bought it. “Yes, you’re getting beat up. You’re bruised, but at the end you are going to look fantastic.”
Ashby: ” I was fighting with Chris Casamassa [Scorpion], who funnily enough was my teacher. Chris did an axe kick to my kidneys in that fight. I had a pad on but his heel just came right between the pads and got me in the kidney, hard. I was peeing blood. It hurt a lot.
Shou wasn’t any slouch to pain himself. While filming the Reptile fight, Shou fractured two ribs when Keith Cooke, who plays the green ninja in the film, threw him into a pillar. Still, they got through the fight and then Shou immediately went to the hospital.
The weirdest part of all of this? Tom Cruise trying to get on set and see what they were doing:
Ashby: “Tom Cruise had a hanger nearby and came over and was like, “Hey what are you guys shooting? Can I check it out?” And the medic goes, “You’re not in this movie. Go away!” And Tom Cruise goes, “I just want to see,” and he goes, “I don’t care who you are, get out of here!” He turned away Tom Cruise.
That medic would later go on to be punched by Tom Cruise in Minority Report.