One of the creators of Mortal Kombat has shared their original concept art for Sub-Zero, and shed a little light on how the character came to be in the bloody and brutal fighting series.
To the uninitiated, Sub-Zero is more of a title than a concrete character, and they belong to the Lin Kuei clan who is the embittered rival of the Shirai Ryu clan. The first to earn the name was Bi Han, and he killed Hanzo Hasashi and his family, thereby sending Hanzo to the Netherrealm where he became the Specter known as Scorpion. The second was Bi Han's younger brother Kuai Liang, who wanted to avenge his brother's death. However, Scorpion allies with him when he discovers that this Sub-Zero is not the same person who assassinated his loved ones, and the soul of Bi Han is actually inside Noob Saibot, a member of the Brotherhood of the Shadow.
Did you get all of that? Great. Well, John Tobias recently took to Twitter to share the inspirations of the notorious character, and the original concept art from the development of the 1992 game. Interestingly, the design of Sub-Zero was borne of the limitations of technology at the time. "One of the first discussions he and I had was about creating a palette swapped character to save memory," explained Tobias. "Given our mystical martial arts themes and my love for 1980's Shô Kosugi ninja films, a masked ninja was a natural character choice for us." Researching intensively into this area of Asian culture and history, he found a book titled China's Ninja Connection in a small supply store in Chicago.
"In that book, the author told what he claimed was the true story of the Lin Kuei - a brand of vagabond thief and assassin from China and precursor to the ninja of Japan," continued Tobias. Though he doubted the veracity of the author's claims, the concept alone was enough to spark the idea in his head of an anonymous member of the Lin Kuei, and create the rivalry between the Chinese assassin and the Japanese ninja. Furthermore, their archetypes were selected specifically so that even if you weren't familiar with the history, you could sympathise with the two characters. "This was the inception of what would become Scorpion vs. Sub-Zero, a bloody tale of revenge so strong that a man crawled back from the depths of hell to achieve it," concluded the co-creator. And, there you have it.
The new Mortal Kombat movie arrives in less than a month's time, and the hype is building more and more. It will be Simon McQuoid's directorial debut for a feature-length film, and from the sounds of it, he's especially enthusiastic to bring the experience of the series on the silver screen. "There are some great camera moves to give it a bit of dynamism, that make it really enjoyable. We needed it to be really elemental and really brutal," said the director. "It's not a shiny film... I wanted the dirt and the grime to come through." In fact, the movie needed to trim back on the amount of gore and entrails that explode in those oh-so-iconic fatalities so that people could stomach watching it.
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