- Jean-Claude Van Damme (aka JCVD) joins Mortal Kombat 1 as an alternate skin and voice for Johnny Cage.
- Before Mortal Kombat, creators Ed Boon and John Tobias were developing a Universal Soldier game for Midway.
- Van Damme will have the same moveset as Johnny Cage, but he will have unique dialogue and sound bites.
Mortal Kombat comes full circle as Jean-Claude Van Damme (aka JCVD) finally arrives in MK1, as an alternate skin and voice for Johnny Cage.
Before the genesis of the original Mortal Kombat under Midway Games, creators Ed Boon and John Tobias were tasked to work on an action game based on the film Universal Soldier and its star, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Although that project never came to pass, they did parody JCVD in the form of Johnny Cage for what would become 1992's smash hit fighting game Mortal Kombat. And while Mortal Kombat live-action films have come and gone, Johnny Cage would be portrayed by other actors, yet not the one he was based on.
Ed Boon, Creative Director at NetherRealm Studios, shared the Mortal Kombat 1 teaser featuring the Johnny Cage character skin of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
— Ed Boon (@noobde) September 8, 2023
Although it was previously revealed that the Kollector's Edition of the game would include a JCVD skin for Cage, this is the first opportunity for fans to see and hear his voice during gameplay.
While JCVD appears to have the same movesets as Johnny Cage in the upcoming MK1, he is voiced by Van Damme himself. The teaser also revealed unique dialogues during clashes, particularly when "The Muscles from Brussels" faces another Johnny Cage in a match. Van Damme even refers to his doppelganger as "Hollywood Boulevard Johnny", as a pun on Cage's tendency to monetize his celebrity status.
The teaser also shows Jean-Claude Van Damme performing one of the Fatalities featured in the game. As Johnny Cage gets kicked into his sports car, JCVD brutally drops the car door and eviscerates his rival. He then finishes him off by having the car drive into an explosive end via remote control.
Bringing in Hollywood stars in a Mortal Kombat game is not new. The previous MK 11 had a number of them, including Robocop, Rambo, the Terminator, and Spawn. However, there are two notable differences of Jean-Claude Van Damme's entry into the Mortal Kombat compared to his contemporaries.
First, is that Van Damme is represented as a character skin of an existing MK character. This is unlike Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo or Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 in Mortal Kombat 11 DLCs from 2019. This inclusion is more in-line with the cast from the 1995 Mortal Kombat film (Christopher Lambert, Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Bridgette Wilson) as alternate skins and voices for their respective MK characters. And while it is appropriate that Van Damme is a skin for Johnny Cage (whose creation was inspired by the actor), it is a slight disappointment that JCVD does not get his own unique character model and movesets.
The second notable difference is that Jean-Claude Van Damme is playing, well, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Although the attire is directly inspired from his role as Frank Dux in the 1988 martial arts action film Bloodsport, the lines of dialogue shown so far indicates it is indeed the actor that is represented, instead of any of his acting roles. Of course, this is again appropriate, considering Johnny Cage's entire gimmick is that he's a successful Hollywood action star.
What did you think of how Jean-Claude Van Damme is finally represented in the Mortal Kombat franchise? Could there be more famed action stars or characters from other media joining the MK1 roster in the future? Would you want them to play as themselves or would you prefer them voicing MK characters such as the recently revealed Megan Fox as Nitara? Who would you like to see?
About Mortal Kombat 1:
It's In Our Blood. Discover a reborn Mortal Kombat Universe created by Fire God Liu Kang. Mortal Kombat 1 ushers in a new era of the iconic franchise with a new fighting system, game modes, and Fatalities!
Developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Games, Mortal Kombat 1 is scheduled for release on September 19, 2023. Fans who purchase the pre-order the Premium and Kollector's Editions will be able to get Early Access on September 14, 2023.