Chinese/German actor and martial artist Max Huang is coveting the role of warrior monk, Kung Lao, for Simon McQuoid’s Mortal Kombat, which began filming in South Australia on Monday from New Line Cinema.
The Award-winning Australian commercial filmmaker is making his feature debut based on the long-running hit game franchise from a script by Greg Russo.
Game lore describes the bladed hat-wearing Kung Lao as the latest descendant (next to Liu Kang) of The Great Kung Lao who originally lost half a century ago to hulking four-armed Shokan champion, Goro, resulting in the start of Shang Tsung’s rule.
The character, who has seen more than his fair share of triumph and tragedy throughout the storyline, has been with the game franchise since Mortal Kombat II in 1993, portrayed for the Midway games by Anthony Marquez, and voiced later by several actors for different installments, including Will Yun Lee and Sunil Malhotra.
Huang’s portrayal marks the character’s first-ever live-action live-action feature debut since the character’s name-mention in the first two movies from Paul W.S. Anderson and John R. Leonetti. Actor Paolo Montalbán played the character in the 1998 television series, Mortal Kombat Conquest with martial arts star Mark Dacascos (Wu Assassins) taking the mantle in season 2 the Warner Bros. Digital webseries, Mortal Kombat Legacy in 2013.
Huang is a bonafide stunt performer, coordinator and member of the JC Stuntteam. His credits partly include Police Story 2013, The Foreigner and upcoming Project X-Traction, as well as Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Aleksander Bach’s Hitman.
Additionally, Huang has also been making the festival rounds on the festival scene with his latest independent action short, No Way Out, which took home wins from this year’s Fighting Spirit Film Festival, winning Best Short, Best Actor and Best Fight Choreography.
Huang joins an ensemble roster that lists Ludi Lin as Liu Kang, Joe Taslim as Sub Zero, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade; Josh Lawson as Kano, Tadanobu Asano as Raiden, Mehcad Brooks as Jackson “Jax” Bridges, Chin Han as Shang Tsung, Hiroyuki Sanada as Scorpion and Sisi Stringer as Mileena. Wu Assassins principle Lewis Tan, whose character remains a mystery, will also star.
The big question now, next to who the heck Tan is playing, is who else will be added to the Kombatant list, particularly as the game franchise makes its eleventh round in “Mortal Kombat 11” from Netherrealm Studios.
James Wan (The Conjuring universe films, Aquaman,) and Todd Garner (Into the Storm, Tag) are producing with Larry Kasanoff, E. Bennett Walsh, Michael Clear and Jeremy Stein exec producing.
The studio’s production announcement on Monday also hails as an Australian and American team behind Mortal Kombat with Germain McMicking (True Detective, Top of the Lake: China Girl) serving as director of photography, Naaman Marshall (Underwater, Servant) as production designer, Scott Gray (Top of the Lake, Daffodils) as editor, and Cappi Ireland (Lion, The Rover) as costume designer.
Warner Bros. Pictures opens Mortal Kombat on March 5, 2021.
Huang is repped by Artist International Group.