During the buildup to Mortal Kombat, all of the key creative minds behind the movie constantly talked up the promise of video game-accurate fatalities, buckets of blood and oodles of gore, something the adaptation certainly delivered on. The reboot pushed its R-rating to the limit, to be sure, so much so that there was talk that things had to be scaled back a little bit so it didn’t land the dreaded NC-17 rating.
It’s certainly easy to see how Mortal Kombat could have been slapped with the highest possible classification from the MPAA when we’re talking about a film where someone literally gets sawed in half by a hat and another character has a hole blown in them that’s so large you can see their spine through it, but in a recent interview, director Simon McQuoid sought to clear things up by saying that while NC-17 was a distinct possibility and easily attainable if he wanted to push the violence to those extremes, it was never really on the table.
“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.”
Of course, it’s not difficult to understand why a project with franchise potential and a built-in audience releasing into theaters in the midst of a global pandemic wouldn’t be too keen on venturing into NC-17 territory given the box office dollars it would stand to lose out on, but it’s hardly as if anyone was criticizing Mortal Kombat for watering things down.
The fantasy martial arts actioner delivered on its promises and then some, so in the grand scheme of things, an NC-17 rating wouldn’t have done much to alter the final product, which saw fans baying for blood and getting exactly what they wished for.