Interview with Mortal Kombat: Legacy II’s Mark Dacascos, aka Kung Lao

Mortal Kombat Legacy 2 - Kung Lao 2

If you’re a fan of martial arts and action, Mark Dacascos should definitely be on your radar for kick-ass actors. He was Eric Draven in the Crow TV series, played a deadly Native American in Brotherhood of the Wolf, and he was Jimmy in Double Dragon (my guilty pleasure). With Mortal Kombat: Legacy II premiering this Thursday, we had the chance to chat with Dacascos about his role as Kung Lao

Mark Dacascos: Hi, John.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): Hey Mark, how’s it going?

Mark Dacascos: Good, man, how are you?

Nerd Reactor: Doing great. So you’re excited for the premiere for Legacy 2?

Mark Dacascos: Oh, dude, I am ecstatic. To tell you the truth, I never saw, for whatever reason, the Mortal Kombat movies from the ’80s and ’90s. Did they do any in the ’80? They did, right?

Nerd Reactor: I think it’s just the ’90s.

Mark Dacascos: So in the ’90s I never saw any of the Mortal Kombat movies. Of course I knew of them, they were huge hits and I knew the video games, but when I saw Kevin’s reboot trailer and the first season of the web series, his sensibility and take on the relationships and the action blew me away. I am beyond words excited for the screening of the series and the premiere and all that.

Mortal Kombat Legacy 2 - Kung Lao

Nerd Reactor: Did you do some research about your character, Kung Lao?

Mark Dacascos: You know what I did was, I watched my kids – I have three kids, and my two boys are huge Mortal Kombat fans. My research included watching my two boys play Mortal Kombat, and it was probably some of the funnest research I’ve ever done for a character. And then really investigating the relationships and the situations and the possible backstory that I created for Kung Lao from what Kevin and his writers wrote in the scripts. That was my research.

And fortunately for me, my parents are both kung fu teachers, so I’ve been involved with martial arts all my life and believe it or not, when I was 17, I was growing up in Hamburg, Germany. I left Hamburg, Germany, and flew to Taipei, Taiwan, to study Mandarin Chinese and to continue my kung fu studies so that someday I would be good enough in both the language and martial arts skills to try to get into the Shaolin Temple on mainland China. That was my 17-year-old aspiration.

Nerd Reactor: Wow.

Mark Dacascos: So I feel like there’s a deep connection between me and Kung Lao, and quite frankly, it’s sort of a dream role, where my idealized, romanticized other Mark and Mark are meshed into one character, Kung Lao. So it was just really cool. I’m really ecstatic, excited for everybody to see what we’ve all done.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah. And in Legacy 2 I guess we get to see Kung Lao interact with characters like Liu Kang (who’s being played by Brian Tee) –

Mark Dacascos: Yes.

Nerd Reactor: – and for that, the Liu Kang character is kind of different from the video games because he has more of a backstory. So I was wondering if that’s the same for Kung Lao?

Mark Dacascos: Well, it’s the same. You know, it’s interesting because I love the relationship. Have you seen any of the – I’m trying to give you information, without giving up the story ’cause I don’t want to spoil it for you. Well you do discover some of Kung Lao’s backstory, but more so as to what it has to do with Liu Kang. I mean, you see the backstory of their relationship, how they got to the place they are in, and then from there it gives us a better understanding of why they’re going to end up doing what they do.

Nerd Reactor: If you could choose one character to play in the arcades, who would you choose?

Mark Dacascos: Hah! OK, well come on. Come on, now. I’m playing the role of Kung Lao, so I’m going to choose my man.

Nerd Reactor: Of course!

Mark Dacascos: I’m not that great of a player, so I don’t like getting myself killed. So maybe I should take that into consideration. Maybe I’d take somebody else.

Nerd Reactor: Who?

Mark Dacascos: I know everybody plays Scorpion.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah, everybody loves Scorpion.

Mark Dacascos: It’s my son’s favorite character.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah, it’s funny when I asked Brian Tee about his favorite character, he was like, “I ain’t gonna lie. It wasn’t Liu Kang.”

Mark Dacascos: Is that what he said?

Nerd Reactor: Yeah, he was a Sub-Zero fan. So definitely not Liu Kang.

Mark Dacascos: They’re both cool characters. You know what the great thing is? The good guys and the bad guys, they’re all really interesting and what I love about the video game is the sense of humor. It’s got that dark, morbid sense of humor.

Nerd Reactor: Is there a difference between doing a web series compared to doing a film and TV project?

Mark Dacascos: Well, this is my first web series and is it different from the rest? I suppose in terms of logistics. It has a much smaller budget than, for example, some of the movies I worked on. But that didn’t really affect me because I love the people that I was working with, and I love the story and what we were doing. I suppose if we had a little bit more time, it could have helped, but I guess that would be the main thing. The budgetary constraints, though when I saw the full season, you can’t tell. I mean I think everybody did such a bang up job. I’m a huge fan of the second season, so in terms of is there a huge difference? Other than budget, but in terms of quality? I can’t see it. That’s a good thing.

Nerd Reactor: You’ve done a lot of action movies, martial arts and all that, so I was kind of surprised when I found out you were in Dancing with the Stars.

Mark Dacascos: Yes. It was my wife’s idea. She thought that it might be good for my fans to see me actually smile and do something other than get killed or beat people up. Or yell at food, do Iron Chef America. You know, I’ve done that for ten years now.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah. Did you get to learn any dancing moves that you can use on your wife?

Mark Dacascos: Oh, you know what? She’s a much better dancer than me. She could teach me.

Nerd Reactor: So probably for the next season, both of you guys can be on the show.

Mark Dacascos: There you go. Someday, maybe. Right?

Nerd Reactor: Do you have anything lined up after Legacy II?

Mark Dacascos: I’m still on Hawaii Five-0. We’ve got the premiere of Mortal Kombat this Thursday, and the day after is our season 4 premiere of Hawaii Five-0. I play the lead villain Wo Fat. I’ve been on there since season one. And then we also have our twelfth season of Iron Chef America and I think the new episodes start in October.

Nerd Reactor: That’s a lot of TV shows. Do you see yourself getting some time to do more movie projects?

Mark Dacascos: I hope so. I would love to do another movie. I love period pieces. I did a movie called Brotherhood of the Wolf way back when in France.

Nerd Reactor: Which I’ve seen.

Mark Dacascos: Oh, thank you so much. And I love, I love big epic movies. I also did a movie with Jason Scott Lee called Nomad, and we shot that in Kazakhstan, another big period piece. So I love those. But regardless, I would love to do films again.


Nerd Reactor: Yeah. With the film, you are just able to kick a lot of ass especially and Brotherhood of the Wolf and (ahem!) Double Dragon.

Mark Dacascos: Hah! Thank you, thank you! Did you ever see Drive?

Nerd Reactor: I haven’t seen Drive yet, but I’ve seen the poster.

Mark Dacascos: Take a look at Drive. I think that in terms of my own personal action it’s probably my best that I’ve done. Steve Wang directed, Koichi Sakamoto’s stunt coordinating.

Nerd Reactor: Ah, Steve Wang. He did Kamen Rider.

Mark Dacascos: Yes he did, yes he did. And he’s a great talent. But in Drive, the same thing, we had a very small budget but it was made with passion from everybody, from top to bottom, and we went for it. So when you get a chance, take a look at Drive, please.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah. I’ll let the readers know to check out Drive and watch Double Dragon again because that’s one of my guilty pleasures.

Mark Dacascos: Hah! Thanks man.

Nerd Reactor: For those martial artists out there, do you have any tips for them to get into Hollywood?

Mark Dacascos: You know, it depends on what they want to do. If they want to do stunts in movies, and do fight scenes, obviously they need to be trained in martial arts. Learn how to do actual stunts, and then learn the art of stunt fighting because it’s very different from real martial arts or actual street self-defense. If they want to be the lead in a movie and act and do fights, then they’ve got to do what I just said, I think, and really work on the craft of acting because if you want to be an actor, you have to learn how to act.

For me I feel like I’ve never, since I started this business, stopped taking acting classes. I still take acting classes and go to audition classes. I study Shakespeare with Patsy Rodenburg from London. I study acting with Larry Moss, improv with Gary Austin. You can be a fantastic martial artist, but it’s not going to translate into acting unless you study acting as well. And all the blood, sweat and tears we martial artists put into our martial arts training to get competent and hopefully good, if we want to do that with acting, you’ve got to put in the same energy and time into acting.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy II premieres Thursday, September 26th, on Machinima.

Also check out our other interviews with the MK Legacy II cast and crew.

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