Perhaps more than any other genre of Hollywood adaptation; films based on video games have suffered from sub-standard appropriation, and awkward re-imaginings. Mortal Kombat may be considered one of the most successful to make the crossover, but as director Paul W. S. Anderson explained (in a 2004 commentary), even his 1995 hit involved an iterative process of deliberate alteration.

Mortal Kombat is celebrating the twentieth anniversary since its original theatrical release: August 18th, 1995! The shadow of its $100 million success looms large over the franchise, inspiring a cinematic universe flirtatious in-game references, nostalgic fandom and a new generation of filmmakers.

Anderson's words -- taken from a 2004 commentary for another of his many game-to-film projects: Resident Evil: Apocalypse -- remain prescient.

A new producer has brought the series a step closer to a theatrical return, but the future remains uncertain. Will filmmakers follow Anderson's advice, or the example of his less-than-faithful films? To date, rumors and independent adaptation have struggled to embrace the popular fiction of the video game franchise. Something Paul Anderson clearly grappled with, despite a self-professed fandom.

In an article by The Hollywood Reporter, series co-creator Ed Boon notes, "John [Tobias] and I had comments about the script because I remember at first, from our perspective, it was way too comical. Raiden was cracking jokes like a prankster, and I remember saying, "He's not a clown, he's a very serious character." We didn't write the script, but we read the script and we sent back comments."

In his commentary, Anderson credits strong test audience reaction for correcting the cardinal sin of coupling Scorpion and Sub-Zero as allies. We might infer this led to one of the films' many memorable moments, a reshoot the likely impetus for Shang Tsung declaring them, "slaves under my power!"

Reshoots clearly added a lot to the inexperienced Anderson's US directorial debut. "We added my favorite fights, which were the Scorpion fight with Johnny Cage and the Reptile fight with Liu Kang.," notes THR. Cinematic martial arts showdowns like these were vital to the film's credibility as a Mortal Kombat adaptation.

On Mortal we made, y'know, we made some deviations from the game. I mean, I think you have to - you can't just be totally slavish to the game... Because then there's no surprises in the movie, and you may as well stay at home and play the game. Ah, and also, what makes for a great video game - which, y'know, is an experience that can last a couple of days playing - doesn't necessarily make for a great ninety minutes in a theatre. So you do have to make changes, but I think it has to be, y'know, very careful changes that you made. Like, in Mortal Kombat, you know, in the original screenplay, Scorpion and Sub-Zero were friends. And, y'know, we tested that version of the movie, and boy did the audience let us know that in the game: they were enemies. And they hated them being friends in the movie. So, we went back and we reshot certain scenes and kinda put things right. And I've been very aware of that in all of the video game adaptations we've done since then. To be mindful of the world of the game, and the rules that are laid down."
- Paul Anderson. (Resident Evil: Apocalypse commentary, 2004)

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