Editor’s note: the following originally appeared in the December 1995 issue of BLADE. Read more from the archives with this collection here.
Mortal Kombat®, based on the video game series of the same name, hit screens in 1995. The story of the knife that appears in the movie is anything but linear. It’s a good example of how things work in Hollywood.
How the Gil Hibben Raptor for Mortal Kombat was Created
As with many movie knife projects, the Mortal Kombat Raptor materialized not by design but by some behind-the-scenes events that are typical of movie productions. Let me explain.
Originally, the producers of Mortal Kombat asked United Cutlery to design custom knife props for the movie. They wanted a knife with a mermaid handle for a specific scene that was to take place on a wooden ship that takes the characters to the island where the Mortal Kombat tournaments are held.
While on the ship, three heroes and three villains. including the captain, were to fight below decks. I t was during this scene that the captain was supposed to use the mermaid knife. As soon as he was to bring the knife to bear, a blue ball of energy would streak through the passageway and turn into the character of Kayden, Lord of the Dominion of Earth (played by Christopher Lambert).
The knife and everything in Rayden’s path would crackle with energy. There was even talk of having the eyes of the mermaid open as the energy went through the knife. It all sounded fascinating but in the movie knife business strange things happen, and this was no exception.
Evolution of the Mermaid Dagger
In July 1994, Mortal Kombat‘s prop master, Eugene McCarthy, sent United Cutlery a sketch of the handle he wanted for the movie knife. It was based on an existing mermaid dagger he had seen in UC’s catalog. except he wanted it to have a damascus tanto blade. I designed two versions of the knife around his requirements, one with a dagger blade and one with a tanto blade. The handle had to be metal so that the electricity could dance over it. I added a pearl and a seashell to make the handle different from United’s existing mermaid design.
The movie’s officials picked my dagger blade design, and United sent them a handmade blade with a carved wood handle. Since they needed to use rubber knives in the combat scenes for safety reasons, they were going to use the United prototype to make casts for rubber props that would be painted to look like real metal.
At United, we proceeded to make the molds and tooling for the version that we were going to sell to the public.
However, movie officials told us a few months later that the scene had been cut from the film. That kind of thing has happened in other movies we’ve worked on in the past, so we weren’t too upset.
Enter The Raptor Knife
Fortunately, the movie officials told us they had used one of our other knives, the Raptor. in another scene. The director, Paul Anderson, earlier had requested some samples from our existing line to consider for other characters in the movie. Two of the knives were our Gil Hibben Double Shadow and the Raptor.
The Raptor is the 1994 edition of United’s Hibben Knives Custom Design Series. Each year we produce a new knife for the series. Hibben’s knives have been featured in many films, including Rambo III and Under Siege. The Double Shadow has been in several TV shows and films, but to our knowledge the Raptor had not been used in a film yet.
Anderson wanted the character Kano (played by Trevor Goddard) to use the Raptor in a fight scene with Sonya (played by Bridgette Wilson), one of the heroes of the film. In the fight, which is mostly hand-to-hand and martial arts, Kano uses the Raptor but is disarmed in the end. The movie is targeted for kids, so no blood is shed with our knife in the film.
We are producing a special Mortal Kombat edition of the Raptor for movie knife collectors. It is the same as the one seen in the film, except that it features a two-color deep etch of the Mortal Kombat logo on the blade and an embossed dragon emblem on the sheath.
Each knife will be individually serial numbered, and will come in a special box featuring movie graphics and photos. We liked the original mermaid knife so much that we produced a modified version of it and added it to our line.
We omitted the damascus-etched blade but otherwise it is the same as the one designed for the film.