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 My Open Letter to Kevin Tancharoen, (Potential) MK Producer View previous topic :: View next topic  
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Joined: 23 Apr 2011
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:00 pm   
Post subject: My Open Letter to Kevin Tancharoen, (Potential) MK Producer
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Hello Mr Tanchoroen,

I first want to say that you are one of the very few potential Mortal Kombat (MK) movie producers (if not the only one) who actually gets the picture! I just listened to your audio interview that you did last year in response to your MK: Rebirth Trailer, and I have watched the first two episodes of MK: Legacy - including the trailer of the series. It is certainly refreshing to see new material and koncepts.

I have been an MK fan since the first videogame installment in the early 90s. The thing that I was so fascinated by was the mixture of realism (being a serious [realism oriented] aspiring artist myself) and mysticism. I had never seen a videogame so ultra-realistic before - other than Pit fighters on Nintendo (but MK was more vivid and intense), and I was hooked. I started really paying attention to the storyline when MK2 (which I think was the best MK game to this day) came around. The storyline was so intricate. There was so much excitement over the game and the arcades were full of energy; those were the days. I also remember there being a lot of hoopla over rumors of an MK movie around that time - in part because of the cinematic commercial for the game. I must say though, that 46 second movie ( ), in my opinion, stomped on both of the feature films that came later.

I can say that the first movie was not bad - not great, but not bad either. It was apparent that effort had been put in to make it better than most videogame-to-TV movies. However, it was missing some things...storyline accuracy and characters being some of them - although the cast was almost perfect for the parts... The ending made you think that whatever was missing would be made up for in the next film. What a shocker it was to see that the second film was a gargantuous disappointment! Some call it "the worst sequel of all time." I won't take too much of your time by walking you through everything that was wrong with MK: Annihilation. Cheap costumes, bad acting, a butchered storyline, random fights and deaths, wimpy bosses/villains, poor special effects, and poor editing are the main things. No disrespect to the producers, but if I hadn't known better, I might have sworn that I was watching an extended episode of the "Mighty Morphing power Rangers." If one was trying to end the franchise, then it was an OK film, as it was fast paced, but if one was trying to do the franchise a favor, they failed. Whoever the producers/directors were were obviously not true fans. But enough of that.

I believe the reason that there has not yet been another MK movie for a number of reasons. One being that it's almost impossible to continue where the last one left off. Another reason is probably because producers are afraid of disappointing the fans again - as they should be - especially after they have been waiting so long! I think I can safely speak for more than myself when I say that fans are tired of all talk and no action. The hype and sensationalism has been played out a long time ago; it's old. This is why your video (Rebirth Trailer) initially received so much feedback. People have been anticipating some real MK cinematic proof for years. Your video was a pleasant surprise!

I do have a bone to pick with you concerning a couple of things - Baraka being one. Trust me. I understand where you are going with the series and what your intentions are, which I can appreciate, and I'm with you. but Baraka being a mad scientist, I think, is too long of a stretch from his original story. Baraka is a favorite. And I think to change him so drastically is equivalent taking Wolverine of X-Men, turning him into an Italian, midget, maphia leader in New York, but still calling him "Wolverine". This may sound far-fetched, but it's no different... Since you want to keep it in a real-world atmosphere, I believe it would make more sense if Baraka was some sort of political rebel (kind of similar to Magneto of X-men), angry at society for something; he has a very cocky personality (which fits his in-game persona). He also is very intelligent; like a cool nerd - kind of like your mad scientist concept. But, being an underdog, he comes up with a way to empower other underdogs (nomads). With this, he develops a formula (of course, this could be done in a realistic and believable way - not like a Ninja Turtles or Nutty Professor type thing) that turns him and others into the animalistic/demonic Tarkatans that we see in the game. So, Baraka becomes like a gang leader or war-lord! See, this is a bridge between your Baraka and the prince of a nomadic tribe/race of tarakatans Baraka of the original storyline. I just think this is more of a balanced concept, as opposed to the extreme stretch in MK: Legacy. I hope that you consider this if you do produce the next movie. I always did want to see Baraka in the movie, but the feature films portrayed him very poorly! The other thing is that in the game, Baraka has always been tied to Mileena the cyborg - which was an interesting story/twist I have always thought. They are supposed to be of the same creation, so I wonder how you would tie this into the story. Some things in the story I think should stay in place, for there is nothing wrong with it; too many twists and turns and everything just gets confusing.

I don't know how Scorpion is portrayed in the Legacy series, being that we're only in the second week, as I type this. He looks more down to earth and realistic from the trailer. But what is up with his face mask? It seems like it should be something that more resembles a scorpion, rather than what it resembles now (not sure what it is).

Reptile also has a great back-story. The Mortal Kombat Conquest script brought his character out more, and did it well! I don't know if you have ever watched MK:Conquest (episodes are on youtube), but it was better than the movies. They stuck with the game but made it more believable. Reptile is a leader, but one of many half human/reptilian mutants (very similar to "Underworld" hybrids). But they are trained to be ninjas. They aren't natural born ninjas, but like the muslims, they are indoctrinated from a young age to serve their queen, king, or whoever their master is. I think you are onto something with your more down-to-earth concept, but the reptile in Legacy, I would more feel sorry for, than want to see in a fight. It's like making a child with down syndrome a villain (I'm not being sarcastic). It just doesn't go together. But I see where you were going with it. However, we can't forget that MK has an oriental, mythological foundation that makes it as kool as it is. It has both a modern and an ancient feel. To just wipe out the ancient atmosphere is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I really like that you are making the series more down to earth and BELIEVABLE. This is what I have wanted to see for the longest! I just think that there needs to be a healthy balance. Many of the characters in MK are as signature as superheros like Batman and Superman. etc..., so to strip them of many of their signature concepts is to strip them of significance completely. I do agree that the storyline has gotten old and stale and needs some freshness! The resurrection concept has gotten so worn out that it's almost repulsive! People are tired of seeing the same characters die and come back to life; it's so unrealistic. But the only reason that Johnny Cage was killed off in the videogame was simply because of legal issues. I don't know if you know the story behind it already, and I don't remember the exact details--only going by what I read, but it went something like this: the actor who played Johnny Cage in MK 1 & 2, was caught dressed in his MK costume at a promotional event for another game, so he was fired. With MK 3 already in production there was not enough time for them to find a replacement actor for Johnny Cage. MK, thriving on it's storyline, they had to work his disappearance into the story. So, I assume for shock value, they decided to go with Cage being killed. Of course, with Cage being a number 1 favorite (besides Rayden and Liu Kang), the fans were outraged! So, they had to bring him back, hence the ressurrection story. Then they got crazy with it! Johnny Cage was second to Liu Kang, and some fans liked him better than Liu Kang, and understandably so. JC was the unique human character of the bunch (even though he was based of off Frank Dux/Jean-Claude Van Damme of "Bloodsport"; all of the characters were based off of someone) - the most down to earth and the single one who brought some komic relief. Even in the movies, people loved his character. And what a shocking disappointment it was to see him killed off in the second movie! I personally felt that the movie died at that moment, and there was no point in continuing to watch - which I found to be a correct presumption (now, I feel it was a good thing he did die because his character was to good for that film). If you go on fan sites or youtube today, you will see by the comments that people are still disappointed with how they destroyed his character. He's like the Joker or Alfred in Batman or the Lois Lane in Superman; although he isn't the main character, you have to have him. The same goes for Sonya Blade. My two cents: I personally favored Rayden, in MK 1, Sonya was number 2, and Cage was number 3. But Cage is a pioneer character of the franchise; it started with him. I think that he should either be totally left out of a series or movie, or given a significant role (like in the first movie). But for the love of the world, PLEASE STOP KILLING JOHNNY CAGE! He's not a weak character!

This leads me to the special forces group. I think that Michael Jai White is almost the perfect fit for Jax; it's like hand-in-glove! I say "almost" because while White is in much better shape than I am, I think he has more potential, body-wise. I saw his latest film (by Tyler Perry) and his body did not strike me as that of an action star. It seems I remember him being more buff. I think that he can do better physically - just because of what he has done. People have always buffed up for certain movie roles By the MK storyline, Jax is, afterall, "the strongest man in the world" (natural strength - this was before his bionic arms, which only would give him more high tech moves like the ground pound and sonic wave...but he's always had his signature "gotcha" grab). I've never been very impressed with the Jackson Briggs of the movies. But I must commend you on that casting choice. And I hope that White will be considered for the movie - if it does happen. Sonya, on the other hand, I'm not so sure. Jeri Ryan isn't the worst fit for Sonya, being that she was such a significant actress in the sci fi "Deep Space 9." But MK is more of an action packed thriller. It seems that Sonya would be more physically fit and agile - better trained in the martial arts. Choreography can work wonders I'm sure, but it can only go so far. Another problem is her age. don't take my word for it. Just click on youtube and look at the many feedback comments. she's being called "grandma Blade." I agree that although she is pretty, she's too old too play Sonya least at that stage in the series. It's a tragedy that Bridgette Wilson was switch fro Sandra Hess, in the movies. Switching actors between movie series always does tremendous damage to the franchise, because people have become comfortable with the original person. I suppose this is the reason for contracts. I trust that everyone will agree that Wilson was a much more convincing Sonya than Hess was! Wilson was more of a bad-azz (although she herself could've been more skilled in fighting), prettier and had more attitude, which people love. Sonya died when Hess assumed her role, making Sonya look like a catholic nun. She tried, but she just wasn't Sonya! The same scenario here. while I don't think that MK should use "sex sales" as a cheap cop-out - like most franchises do, I do think that Sonya should be more of a witch with a capital B who's more attractive. She shouldn't be like a porn star or stripper; that's trying too hard. But all of the Sonyas after Wilson have been trying too hard. She needs to be a natural. Another thing is tht rivalry between Sonya and Kano. It has been a classic story that Sonya was responsible fr what happened to Kano's eye, which gives him extra motive to continue to be after her. It seems like in Legacy, there would be more of a rivalry between Jax and Kano, now that Jax has ruined his face. I enjoyed that short fight scene between the two, and the way you manipulated the story was kool, but think that it would make a better fit to have Sonya be the one responsible for Kano's eye. The whole story between Kano, Sonya, and Jax didn't happen in one videogame (there was a lot of back-story before the actual tournament). It shouldn't all have to happen in one movie or a couple of 5 minute episodes. There's no rush. The story needs time to develop.

Liu Kang is definitely the main ingredient of the franchise; you can't have Mortal Kombat without him. But I like the fact that you are staying away from him for a moment. The fact that you're now focusing on the storylines that have been cinematically overlooked, adds some much needed freshness to the series! I d hope that if you land the rights to the next film, you will not completely forsake the main patriarch. It would be cool to start the movie with the other characters like the ones you have (Jax, Sonya, Kano, Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Scorpion, Sub-Zero), and end it by introducing the the more prominent characters. It would make a great promotion for the next film - hoping there will be more than one!. *As a side-note, I don't know if you have seen the movie "The Forbidden Kingdom: Monkey King", but I think that their depiction of Ni Chang, played by Bingbing Li (if not the other way around) was a spitting image of what I would've imagined Queen Sindel would be in the movie. But even though their depiction was not of Sindel, it was a much better representation of Sindel than was portrayed in MK:A. If you haven't seen it, you might want to check it out.*

I believe that if there is to be another feature film, there should definitely be more than one. There should at least be a trilogy, like Lord of The Rings, and The Matrix. It has enough depth to be at least that. There is a lot one can do with it if he just has a vision for the franchise, which it seems earlier producers/directors lacked. In reality, an MK movie franchise could be as big as big as, if not bigger than LOTR, the Matrix, and Harry Potter, without all of the sensationalism, hype, and gimmicks that it has thrived on; it doesn't need all of that. All it needs is to deliver. It has all the elements of the real world, Science Fiction, fantasy, action thriller, kung Fu, greek and oriental mythology, all rolled up into one. The diversity is what gives it longevity. Imagine what a movie producer with a vision could do with such a dynamic concoction! I like the Wizard of Oz and Alice-In-Wonderland effect, like was done in the Matrix, LOTR, Harry Potter, and even the first MK movie. But I agree with you that it doesn't have to be over-the-top. It always tends to get out of balance. You have the right idea! And I'm also not a fan of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon effect that has been implemented in so many of the modern martial arts movies that have come since then. I'd rather watch the older Kung Fu films that were fast paced, and didn't rely on all of the fancy special effects that take away from the real-time factor. It's supposed to be believable. Believe it or not, real martial arts and kung fu is an element that the Mortal Kombat movies have also lacked.

I also agree with you that the signature special moves should be done in a more tactful, believable way. I think that point of them is to make the viewer believe that he would be able to do such a move. It's supposed to have meaning behind it. That's what makes it "special!" But it should most definitely be included. There is so much out there that we are ignorant of. That's why I like the Alice-in-wonderland effect (although I don't like that particular story). It makes you think about that undiscovered world. And seeing the visualization of it makes one think that it is accessible to the average Joe.

I must say though that after listening to your interview, I can see that you get it! You have voiced what most fans have been thinking and trying to express for years. I appreciate your view, as I'm sure many others do! I hope that you will have some input in the next MK film, if there is to be on. Consider what Peter Jackson, and the other directors/producers did with the Lord of The Rings trilogy, with a low budget, a creative mind, passion, and a vision. I hope that you will investigate all of your possible options, branch out and collaborate with other producers, and only the best actors and choreographers to make this project a successful one!

Thank you

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