For action film fans, the name Joe Taslim is already iconic. That’s what happens when you are one of the stars of “The Raid,” a film that is often discussed as one of the best action movies of all time. And now, in “Mortal Kombat,” Taslim brings his action movie skills to a highly anticipated, big-budget video game adaptation. In this episode of The Playlist Podcast, we speak to none other than Joe Taslim about “Mortal Kombat,” “The Raid” ten years later, and why he’s not quite sure a Hollywood remake of Gareth Evans’ classic can actually be any good.
For those unaware, “Mortal Kombat” the film is based on the video game franchise of the same name and features a wide variety of colorful heroes and villains that do battle in a tournament that will decide the fate of the world. In this new film, Taslim plays Sub Zero, one of the most iconic characters in the franchise and a major force in the film.
“It was an instant yes for sure,” said Taslim about signing on for “Mortal Kombat.” “Fuck yes!”
He added, “They said, ‘We’re going to get you the script and all that,’ but deep down inside, I was thinking, ‘I want to play my hero. I know I can play this character. I know I can give justice to this character with more than just cool fight scenes. I can give this character heart. I just knew it.”
As for the violence in the film, which is something the video game franchise is well-known for, Taslim thinks the bar has been set in “Mortal Kombat.”
“It’s amazing what they did, in terms of violence. I think it’s very hard to top it,” he admitted. “Well, we can top it in the sequel. [Laughs]”
Of course, when you speak to Joe Taslim, you have to talk about “The Raid,” which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year. That film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival as a midnight showing and ended up becoming one of the breakouts of the event. But while filming the action feature, Taslim had no idea he was part of something special.
“We didn’t know [during production], to be honest,” Taslim said. “We trusted Gareth [Evans] so much in the process. It didn’t feel like a movie . It felt like a Shaolin training, where you just believe in your sensei.”
And after the film finally premiered at TIFF, Taslim knew something big was happening.
“Me and Iko [Uwais] were like busy checking Twitter because there were a lot of mentions,” he said. “We were like, ‘What is this?! Oh! Oh!’ We didn’t sleep the whole night because we’re like, ‘Gareth! Gareth! Come see this! Come see this!’ That moment is probably one of the best and happiest in my life. It was the first time, for me, to have all this positive energy and for people to respect the work. It was just crazy.”
As for the upcoming remake of “The Raid,” which Hollywood has been trying to make happen for years now, Taslim understands that it’s likely going to be made. However, he’s not sure it can replicate the magic of the original, based solely on the fact that Indonesia and Hollywood are two completely different movie-making worlds.
“My career is kind of in both worlds,” Taslim said about Hollywood and Indonesia filmmaking. “It’s totally different, the way [Indonesian filmmakers] shoot movies, rules-wise…In Asia, generally, we have more flexibility. We work longer [hours]. We can go a bit crazier, a bit more dangerous. To shoot like we shot on ‘The Raid’— with 30 or 40 takes, punches to the face, kicks to the body—I think it’s illegal to do in Hollywood.”
He joked, “Whoever tries to produce [‘The Raid’ remake] is going to go to jail! [Laughs]”
“Mortal Kombat” arrives in theaters and HBO Max on April 23. You can hear our entire interview with Taslim below:
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