'Mortal Kombat' star Ludi Lin on the video game adaptation and Asian representation on-screen

Marriska Fernandes
·5-min read

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Chinese-Canadian actor Ludi Lin is elated to be a part of the Mortal Kombat universe. The actor plays fan-favourite character Liu Kang in the upcoming film, which opens Friday. 

“It feels like a vindication to everything I had to go through to get here when I was a kid. I saved up a lot of allowance that I made washing dishes and turning them into quarters and practice my skills on the gaming system to get here," Lin told Yahoo Canada.

"I was inspired by the first movie, what Robin Shou did to Liu Kang the character. It was really easy for me to relate and jump into that role and now I actually get to carry the torch and to carry it on from here is really wonderful.”

Directed by Simon McQuoid in his feature directorial debut, Mortal Kombat also stars Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson and Joe Taslim. The film follows MMA fighter Cole Young (Tan) as he teams up with the Earth's greatest champions to fight the enemies of Outworld in an epic, high stakes battle for the universe.

Lin credits the 'Mortal Kombat' fans

Mortal Kombat brings together several iconic characters like Sub-Zero, Liu Kang and Kung Lao – giving each of them time to shine. The movie noticeably features impressive fight choreography, hand-to-hand combat and stunt work from each of its diverse cast, and stays true to the core of what fans loved most about the video games.

The action-packed film respects the classic elements of the video game franchise, and does so in a manner that not only treats existing fans but also draws in a new audience. The viewership for the red band trailer of Mortal Kombat had clocked in 116 million views in its first week, becoming the biggest red band trailer of all time.

Lin is well aware of the importance of the MKU fans.

“There’s so much lore on Mortal Kombat out there and it’s really due to fans that we can make this movie as authentic, as real as it is. Because I must have dug through thousands of fan pages, watched hundreds of hours of cinematic footage that the fans cut together from the video game series.”

The power of representation and breaking barriers

Lin has an impressive resume, playing characters like Zack Taylor in Power Rangers and Murk in Aquaman. His projects tend to showcase complex Asian characters that are breaking stereotypes. Lin has always been vocal about his decision to portray raw and rich roles as he explores complexity and breaks the mold in cinema, especially in a diverse global franchise like Mortal Kombat.

“It’s something that I’m very conscious about. This is the first time that something as authentic as this where there’s a lot of diverse aspects of being Asian… Asian characters [come] from all corners of the world. And this is actually how the world is, guys! Asian is not just one box. We’re all over the place," Lin shared.

"Asian is not just the minority because we represent 60% of the world. Not only that, I think in this movie, each person has a real background story and we’re all authentic, real martial artists. That makes the fight seem very real.”

In addition, the film doesn’t stereotype women, as is the case with many video game adaptations. Sonya, played by Jessica McNamee, is a headstrong character with an impressive storyline and is not one to back down in a fight. She’s given some serious moves and fiercely takes on her opponents.

“The female characters in the story aren’t just wimpy characters that follow behind some man to a grand adventure that they just passively carry along. They have their own fighting styles and they have their own things to prove as well,” Lin added.

Ludi Lin in Mortal Kombat film
Ludi Lin in Mortal Kombat. Image via Warner Bros. Canada

The joy of searching for Easter eggs

With Mortal Kombat having such a massive fan base, from the video games to the previous films, we wondered if there were any Easter eggs in the film.

“Yeah, we had a lot. And I think it’s going to take people some time to dig through them all. But there’s a lot of lines that recall the video games. There are a lot of props that hint to other worlds in Mortal Kombat. Because the MKU is very big – there are 18 realms involved and there’s hundreds of characters,” Lin revealed.

“They come up in surprising places but what’s more surprising for me is how the good the fans are at actually digging through these things. In the trailer, on the back wall where Sub-Zero [played by Joe Taslim] and Jax [played by Mehcad Brooks] fight, there’s actually spray-painted code to one of the moves in Mortal Kombat. It’s very faint in the background but some fan had picked that up. So I think if you’re into it, you’re going to have a lot of fun ripping this thing apart.”

And believe us, you will. There are plenty of tributes and special Easter eggs in the film that fans are going to love to dive into as they watch and re-watch the film. Mortal Kombat is a gory, fun trip that will definitely be a treat for moviegoers.

Mortal Kombat releases in theatres April 23, and will also be available on demand.

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