How Mortal Kombat Pulled Off That Brutal Kung Lao Fatality

Max Huang as Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat 2021

Just so we are clear, this article contains SPOILERS. If you've already seen Mortal Kombat, or just don't care, go ahead and read on.

When it comes to the Mortal Kombat franchise, there’s one feature that arguably stands above the rest, fatalities. The gruesome coup de grâce’s have been an important part of the series since it first launched back in 1992. Fortunately, Simon McQuoid's upcoming reboot of the beloved franchise isn’t afraid to lean into the more brutal finishing moves. One of the best, at least according to the cast, is performed by the metal hat-wearing Kung Lao.

Ahead of Mortal Kombat’s release I had a chance to talk to Max Huang, who plays Kung Lao, about the practicalities of his character's fatality and if there was any CGI added in. When asked about the scene in question, he had this to say:

It was a blend of the both. But it was actually more practical than CGI, I have to say because all the blood you see that is all real. I can't give away too much, but, when we shot that fatality, it was coming at me and it was a mess.

Quite a mess indeed. But what can you expect when you literally saw someone in half, table-saw style? He went on to admit that there were certain aspects of the fatality that needed to be worked on in post, but the final product should please (and gross out) fans:

And then later on they worked around with the CGI to make it even look more outstanding, but yes, majority of it was all real. It was certainly gratuitous to say the least. I think the finished product ended up looking really great. I think a lot of people felt sick, on set watching it.

It was a gratuitous fatality indeed. I have a sneaking suspicion that Kung Lao’s flawless victory on Nitara was a major contributor to Mortal Kombat star Lewis Tan feeling sick on set. Despite the brutality, it’s cool to hear that the majority of the fatality was shot practically. While I’m sure that wasn’t the funnest scene in the world, considering all the blood, the finished product looked amazing.

The beautiful brutality of Mortal Kombat is a defining feature of the franchise and the new reboot shines in that department. Between the high-flying martial arts and impressive stunts pulled off by the crew, Simon McQuoid's directorial debut earned some much deserved love from fans and critics alike.

Fans can check out Mortal Kombat in theaters or on HBO Max, where it’s streaming right now. If you aren’t sold on the reboot yet (seriously, how?) check out the first 7 minutes of the movie to get a taste of just how far the cast and crew went.

Braden Roberts

Into tracksuits by Paulie Walnuts, the Criterion Channel and Robert Eggers.