Interview: Mark Dacascos Enters The Tournament With ‘Mortal Kombat: Legacy’ Season 2

The launch of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” Season two kicks off our coverage of new fights (and fighters) for the Machinima web series. Check out the first episode below. Later today, we’ll bring you interviews with some of the stars and creators who’ve brought the battle for Earthrealm to your PC.

2:30 EST – Interview: Casper Van Dien (Johnny Cage)
4:30 EST – Interview: Director Kevin Tancharoen

He’s played everything from a heartbroken assassin (“Crying Freeman”) to the Crow (“The Crow: Stairway to Heaven”), to a turbo-charged martial artist with a super-powered heart (my personal favorite, “Drive”), and this week, six-time award-winning Kung Fu and karate champion martial artist Mark Dacascos takes on the role he feels he was born to play: Shaolin monk Kung Lao in the second season of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy.”

Dacascos and I spoke about why this role was, in a way, a dream come true, the joy (and literal pain) of shooting with a smaller budget, and how “Mortal Kombat” and Buddhism make sense together.

Dacascos came to the character of Kung Lao blind, as it were: prior to taking the role, the actor hadn’t seen any of the previous “Mortal Kombat” films. “I feel like I have a bit of an advantage,” he adds, “So I sort of have a clean slate.” Dacascos did have previous video game/film crossover experience, playing the heavy in the 1994 “Double Dragon” movie as well as joining the cast of “Wing Commander IV” as one of its heroes in the space shooter’s FMV sequences. But the “Mortal Kombat” franchise, even though he was aware of the movies and games, somehow eluded him.

Still, he felt oddly prepared for the role of a Shaolin monk thanks to his love of a a Jet Li classic which, in part, lead to his entry into the world of martial arts on film. At the age of 16, while still living with his martial arts instructor parents in Hamburg, Germany, Dacascos first saw Li on the screen in 1982’s “The Shaolin Temple” (the first role for the Wushu champion who is only one year Dacascos’ senior). “I had this idea in my head that I was going to be like Jet Li. I was exploring Buddhism at that time–and I still am–and of course, I was a martial artist and I thought it was the perfect combination. I could practice martial arts, religion, and philosophy, and help people.”

And after saving his money, Dacoscos hopped on a plane to Taipei, where he studied Mandarin in the hopes of entering a Shaolin temple in mainland China. He laughs, saying that he met a Texas girl who changed those plans and the two married. But he says that those spiritual aspirations have never gone away, something that’s carried over to his serene performance as Kung Lao: “I always carry that part of my life and that aspiration in me,” he says, “The character just resonated in me.”

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