Mortal Kombat movie eyeing Ludi Lin to play Liu Kang

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Hollywood has one word for rising star Ludi Lin, and that word is: “FIGHT!”

The Chinese-Canadian actor is reportedly in talks to portray Liu Kang, the chief defender of Earth against the forces of the evil Shao Khan, in the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot. Variety was the first to report the news.

Assuming that the talks are fruitful, Lin would be joining a cast that has grown considerably in recent days. As reported by Deadline, the production has recently added newcomer Sisi Stringer as evil assassin Mileena and Mechad Brooks (Supergirl) as cybernetically augmented soldier Jackson “Jax” Briggs; in addition, it’s been reported that Tadanobu Asano (Thor: Ragnarok) is in final negotiations to take on the role of thunder god Raiden (apparently, his having a bit of experience with thunder gods was a plus). Last month, we reported that actor and martial artist Joe Taslim had landed the role of the ninja warrior Sub-Zero, becoming the first to be cast in the flick.

Lin’s casting would have been a no-brainer in any event; he certainly looks the part, and has proven that the camera kind of digs him with roles in 2017’s Power Rangers and last year’s Aquaman. But it’s likely that Lin nailed down the role with his recent appearance in the Black Mirror episode “Striking Vipers,” in which he portrays a very Liu Kang-like character within the world of a very Mortal Kombat-like video game.

While the episode (like many Black Mirror outings) was a touch divisive, critics who praised it did so effusively, and Lin was singled out as being picture-perfect for his part. (For the record, we thought it was brilliant.) It’s now tough to see Lin’s appearance in the episode as anything but an extended audition for Mortal Kombat, even though it almost certainly was not (at least not officially).

The news comes on the heels of Lin’s being removed from consideration for a role which likely would have been even more high-profile. It had been widely reported that the actor had been near the top of the short list of those being eyed for the lead role in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but that part was recently handed to Lin’s countryman, fellow Canadian Simu Liu.

While Mortal Kombat probably will not enjoy as far a reach as Shang-Chi (or any Marvel Studios film, for that matter), it’s still positioned for box office success. The video game franchise upon which it’s based has been going strong for nearly two decades; the latest installment, Mortal Kombat 11, released earlier this year to rave reviews and scored the franchise the strongest debut in its illustrious history.

The series’ fans were also primed for a modern take on the material with the 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, which was directed by Kevin Tancharoen (The Flash, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). The short’s viral success led to the development of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, a web series which ran for 19 episodes between 2011 and 2013; both projects illustrated that, when the material is taken seriously, the Mortal Kombat world is one which can lend itself compellingly to a dark, gritty narrative.

The filmmakers, led by veteran commercial director Simon McQuoid, also have a fantastic blueprint for what not to do, thanks to the limp one-two punch of 1995’s Mortal Kombat (directed by Event Horizon helmer Paul W.S. Anderson) and its sequel, 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. While the first film was not without its charms, it was called to the mat for its amateurish special effects and terrible acting; the sequel doubled (or perhaps tripled) down on everything fans hated about the original, and is generally regarded as being among the worst films of all time. (Fans of laughably terrible movies, take note: you have not lived until you’ve heard actress Musetta Vander, appearing in Annihilation as Queen Sindel, delivering one of the most impossibly stilted line readings in the history of film.)

At any rate, the casting of Lin has us more convinced that ever that the Mortal Kombat reboot is firmly on the right track. The flick will be going before the cameras any old time now, and is currently slated for release on March 5, 2021; we’re certain that more casting news will be coming down the pike very soon, and we’ll be here to keep you filled in on the latest developments.

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