Deepfake videos have taken fan casting to a whole new level, allowing editors to swap out the faces of performers with whatever actor they chose. A recent effort sees Jean-Claude Van Damme as Johnny Cage in the original Mortal Kombat movie, after the reboot renewed interest in the less-regarded ‘90s efforts.
The video features a trio of scenes with the original and edit shown in side-by side comparison, first where Cage is introduced to the titular tournament, then the beginning of his battle with Scorpion (with the film’s ropey CGI painfully apparent) and finally the conclusion of his bout against Goro.
The character was played by Linden Ashby, who’s probably best known to modern audiences from drama/horror series Teen Wolf as Stiles Stilinski’s father Sheriff Noah, and to be honest, he was about as distinctive as much of the rest of the pic. It’s slightly jarring to see JCVD’s face but not hear him speak in his Belgian accent, which may well have been why he wasn’t approached to play the part in spite of the character being based on him, since Cage is intended to be quintessentially American. Interestingly, Van Damme did previously get the chance to portray an all-American hero of a video game adaptation, but unfortunately that was 1994’s Street Fighter.
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Of course, Cage wasn’t featured in the recent reboot despite a popular fan theory that franchise newcomer Cole Young would adopt the moniker as a stage name, and while he was the only one of the original game’s lineup of warriors to not be included directly, the allusion to his future presence formed a prominent sequel hook.
Despite many fans calling for Van Damme to play Cage in Mortal Kombat 2, this is highly unlikely to come to pass as he’s now far too old unless some de-aging techniques are implemented. However, we at least have this video to imagine what might have been.