He’s faced off alien invaders, super villains and stood toe to toe with Lex Luthor, but nothing in his acting career prepared Supergirl star Mehcad Brooks for his fight with martial arts legend Joe Taslim in the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot.
“I made the mistake of watching Joe Taslim in a movie called The Raid the night before we had the fight,” revealed Brooks in an exclusive interview with Geek Culture.
“So I didn’t sleep the night before. I was like, ‘I gotta fight this guy?’” laughed the 41-year-old actor, who plays Jax against Taslim’s Sub-Zero in the film. If you’ve seen the trailer, there’s a reason for the actor to be afraid.
First appearing in the Mortal Kombat: Special Forces game in 2000, Jax is a Special Force soldier who attempts to stop Kano and the Black Dragon crime organisation from stealing an artifact capable of opening portals to other realms. A new fan favourite of the Mortal Kombat video game franchise, Jax takes centre stage in the new film, diverting his attention to newcomer Cole Young (Lewis Tan), and goes head to head with the brutal Sub-Zero played by Joe Taslim.
For those unfamiliar with The Raid, the Indonesian action-thriller has Taslim play the role of a sergeant who leads his unit into a raid of an apartment building filled with criminals. In it, the martial artist and Judo champion displays hand-to-hand combat skills that would make John Wick quiver, and having seen the movie ourselves, we wouldn’t want to go up against Taslim either.
*Video game spoilers ahead
Unfortunately for Brooks, he, or rather, Jax, has no choice as that fight leads into the eventual creation of the character’s final form. Throughout the 20 year history of Jax, the unfortunate character has lost his arms in multiple ways. From being torn apart by Goro in Scorpion’s Revenge, saving his military bestie Sonya Blade from a grenade in Mortal Kombat: Legacy to now having them frozen and destroyed by Sub-Zero in the highly anticipated movie. The act of losing his arm is a huge part of Jax’s origin story, and in preparation for the important scene, Brooks did what any normal actor would do – he researched his co-star.
Sharing his experience filming the fight scene where Jax lost his arms, Brooks said, “Joe and I got to know each other really well, and very intimately in the fight scene and my nervousness kind of left in the beginning. Joe was, like, ‘We’re doing the choreography’,”
“Joe just makes it seem like a dance – and it is a dance. When you’re watching Joe Taslim do a fight scene. It’s like watching Michael Jackson in his prime up close. That’s what I can tell you about the fight scene. I lost my voice with all the yelling, and the intensity of losing the arms, thought my eyes were gonna pop out of my head, and my voice was gone for about a week, but you do what you do.”
Brooks isn’t the only person with an affinity for fighters, as co-star Lewis Tan is also a trained martial artist who spends his time admiring and taking inspiration from various martial artists and fighters around the world.
Cole is a brand new character to the franchise, introduced by director Simon McQuoid. As seen in the trailer, Cole embarks on his own journey in becoming a fighter for the Earthrealm. As a new character, Tan didn’t have an expansive lore or history to lean on like the rest of his co-stars, so he did what he thought was best – find a commonality.
Reeling from his personal experiences, Tan said, “You know, as an actor, and as an Asian actor especially, you always have those kinds of emotions so I pulled a lot from some real parts of who I am.”
“Cole is a character that starts off in a very interesting position in his life, where he feels lost, he feels like he’s missed an opportunity, he’s missed a shot, he’s not living up to his full potential and I think that that’s something that’s very relatable to a lot of people, myself included, you know, feeling like you have to prove yourself, feeling like you’re not good enough, and no one’s giving you this chance. And, you know, you had this opportunity, and now it’s gone. And maybe you’re never going to have it again,” explained Tan, whom audiences might have seen in Netflix’s Iron Fist.
His single appearance in the series garnered a huge fan following, mainly in part because he displayed great martial arts capabilities against co-star Finn Jones, who supposedly played a master martial arts expert. Apart from Iron Fist, Tan also showed off his capabilities in martial-arts focused TV series Wu Assassins and Into the Badlands.
Taking inspiration from his own art and some of the best UFC fighters in the world, Tan’s characterisation and portrayal of Cole is both a unique blend of the people he admires and his own gusto.
“Cole is a mixed martial artist and as a martial artist myself, I pull a lot from my old senseis and my training. And then there’s a UFC fighter named Jorge Masvidal, who used to be a bare-knuckle backyard boxer and now he’s one of the best UFC fighters in the world. He has a really cool physicality about him and kind of like a salt of the earth grittiness about him and I took the body language from him so that’s the inspiration for the character,” shared Tan.
“And there’s many other things too, but I can’t give away all my secrets!”
Catch Mehcad Brooks as Jax Briggs and Lewis Tan as Cole Young in the upcoming Mortal Kombat movie. The two actors will be co-starring alongside Chin Han, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Jessica McNamee, Sisi Stringer, Josh Lawson, Tadanobu Asano, Elissa Cadwell and Matilda Kimber.
Mortal Kombat premieres on 8 April in Southeast Asia, and 23 April in the US.