Mortal Kombat Director Clarifies NC-17 Comments

Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat

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After a year of movie delays, blockbusters are finally starting to be released. Warner Bros. has been putting out its new movies in both theaters and HBO Max simultaneously, including Simon McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat. The video game adaptation was a grisly R-rated romp, although the filmmaker recently clarified comments about the project getting slapped with the rare NC-17.

Ahead of its release, there was a ton of hype around Mortal Kombat’s R-rating. This allowed the movie’s violence and language to live up to its source material, but there were also some rumors about NC-17 going around the internet. Filmmaker Simon McQuoid recently spoke to this, saying:

I mean, to be clear, I never said we nearly got an NC-17. What I was saying was it wouldn’t be hard for us to jump into that space, given the material. So two slightly different things. And it’s something we were really careful of because we didn’t want to get there. It was just a constant assessment and calibration and building – and we’d always just look and make sure we weren’t totally getting it wrong, the way the shots were blocked. They go by pretty quick, and that was by design. We felt that if you romanced them and slowed them down and made them too gratuitous in that sense, which is actually an element of the game – and I think in a game you can get away with that – whereas in reality, you can’t do that. It becomes a totally different thing. And so, yeah, it was just a matter of studying and assessing all the time and trying not to take your eye off the ball with that stuff. So, just constant analysis really.

Well, there you have it. Mortal Kombat was never shooting for an NC-17 rating, but Simon McQuoid makes it clear they could have pushed a bit farther if that was the goal. R was definitely a great choice for the movie, one that allowed the generations of fans to finally witness fatalities in live-action.

Simon McQuoid’s comments to Uproxx help to peel back the curtain on what it was really like working on Mortal Kombat. There was a ton of pressure in adapting the video game for film, especially given how poorly the genre has historically done. McQuoid’s movie was clearly crafted by fans of the franchise, which is why the rating was so important.

Mortal Kombat is available for a limited time on HBO Max. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

Giving Mortal Kombat an R-rated movie helped the project feel more accurate to the video games, even if characters and plot lines were changed up. Audiences were ultimately watching for the fight sequences and those certainly didn’t disappoint. But it’s unclear if we’ll be getting a sequel from Simon McQuoid and company.

The end of Mortal Kombat definitely set up some sequels. For starters, the titular tournament didn’t actually occur throughout the first movie. Add in the tease of Johnny Cage and Sub-Zero’s possible return as Noob Saibot, and there’s a ton of narrative threads to pull from. But with the movie's unique pronged release, it's unclear how Warner Bros. will measure the success of Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat is currently available in theaters and streaming. Be sure to check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.