Baraka (Mortal Kombat)
|Mortal Kombat character|
Baraka in Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat II (1993)|
|Created by||John Tobias|
|Motion capture||Sean Okerberg (MKvDC)|
Silat (MK:D, MK:A)|
Hung Gar (MK:D)
Baraka is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. Baraka was introduced in Mortal Kombat II in 1993 as an unpredictable warrior in service of Outworld emperor Shao Kahn. He belongs to a race of nomadic mutants called Tarkatan, later revealed in Mortal Kombat: Deception to be a crossbreed between Netherealm demons and denizens of Outworld, apparently populating the vast wastelands of Outworld. Baraka, like most other members of his race, possesses long retractable blades extending from his forearms.
In video games
Baraka is first introduced in Mortal Kombat II as being a member of a lowly Outworld race called the Nomads, known for unpredictable behavior and possessing a frequent violent streak. He spearheads the attack on Liu Kang's Shaolin temple in Earthrealm following the conclusion of the first tournament, which in turn lures Liu Kang into Outworld to seek vengeance, as planned by emperor Shao Kahn. After Kahn's defeat, he disappeared back into Outworld's wastelands, reemerging in the Mortal Kombat Trilogy storyline as again being recruited into Kahn's forces after successfully fighting an "uprising renegade race in Outworld's lower regions", then taking part in the ensuing invasion of Earthrealm. However, after Kahn is again defeated and his takeover plans go for naught a second time, Baraka sets back out on his own as a drifter once more.
While passing through the Outworld realm of Edenia prior to the events of Mortal Kombat Gold (1999), Baraka encounters the sorcerer Quan Chi, who offers him a chance to rule the realm at his side if he agrees to join the army of the fallen Elder God Shinnok; Baraka, always in the mood for battle, readily accepts, but all along he secretly planned to betray his new masters, which fails to come to fruition after Shinnok's defeat. Baraka attempts to warn Quan Chi about Shinnok's demise, but Quan Chi pretends to have masterminded the events, and after Baraka openly balks at the prospect of sharing the rule of Outworld with Quan Chi, the sorcerer appears to kill him right after thwarting a sudden attempt on his life.
At the time of Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), Baraka formed an alliance to the risen Dragon King, Onaga, in whose strength he had great faith. When Baraka agreed to follow Onaga, the remainder of his Tarkatan race did so too. Baraka freed Mileena from her prison and recruited her to Onaga's ranks to pose as Princess Kitana. Mileena used this position to misdirect the Edenian forces into combat against the Tarkatan raiding parties well away from Onaga to give the Dragon King the time he needed to complete his schemes.
In the reboot of the series Baraka appears as a recurring foe in the story mode, where he fights and loses to Johnny Cage, Cyrax, Jax, and Jade. When Shao Khan is seemingly killed, he argues that Mileena should be the heir to his throne, afterwards he leads his Tarkatan armies into an invasion of Earthrealm.
Baraka appears in Mortal Kombat X as an unplayable character. He continued to serve Mileena until she was usurped by Kotal Khan (with additional support from Reptile, Ermac and D'Vorah). He was killed by D'Vorah, to ensuring Kotal Khan's rule as Baraka seemed to be Mileena's last supporter at the time. The Alien would replace Baraka in the game as a playable guest character, after having burst from his chest and maturing into an adult, wielding dual arm blades in its' 'Tarkatan' variation.
Baraka was first conceived by MK co-creator John Tobias as a "savage barbarian demon warrior" named Rokuro, as part of the early development process of the first Mortal Kombat, but the concept never made it off the drawing board. While brainstorming possible character ideas for Mortal Kombat II, several designers visited a local costume shop and found a Nosferatu mask, which they painted in order to enhance its horrifying appearance while attaching silver-painted false fingernails to serve as teeth. This mask was worn by Richard Divizio, the actor who portrayed Baraka in the game. Divizio stated that the mask was a "skin-tight" fit, and throughout his motion capture filming he was sweating profusely. Divizio told Electronic Gaming Monthly: "He was a pretty cool character, but I didn't like him too much."
Early Baraka concept art by character designer John Tobias portrayed him as a masked, bald human ninja armed with hookswords. The swords were later used by Kabal - also played by Divizio - in Mortal Kombat 3. Another Baraka concept portrayed him as a creature with extra-long, metal talon-studded, muscular arms, but it was thought this might create an unfair reach advantage and so was re-sketched with blades inspired by the Marvel Comics character Wolverine, whose claws extend from his hands. The third and final attempt at a Baraka design included a full head of black hair tied up in a bun, and a large red dot on his belt to go along with his familiar red-and-white tunic and black pants. The red dot, added simply as a decoration, got axed because it was misinterpreted as symbolizing the red dot on the Japanese flag, and the hair was gone shortly thereafter, finalizing Baraka's bald look used throughout the Mortal Kombat series. In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, he is seen with a row of spikes projecting off the very back of his head.
By the time Mortal Kombat: Deception had released, it was shown that Baraka's race of Tarkatan were all exact duplicates of one another without any significant features to differentiate them. This was slightly fixed in the 2011 installment of Mortal Kombat, as other Tarkatan appear during the game's story and challenge modes that have different, distinguishing features from each other, most notably in the fact that only Baraka uses his bladed arms while other Tarkatans have visible blades.
Baraka's special moves and Fatalities tend to involve his blades. His blade became a weapon style in Deception and Armageddon and could also be pulled out for standard attacks in MK vs. DCU. In MKII, Baraka was originally going to be given a move where he spins his blades at the opponent, but were removed from the game before completion, since they were deemed too powerful. He would later have a blade spin move added in Mortal Kombat Trilogy.
In other media
Baraka made several appearances in Malibu's' Mortal Kombat comic book series, making his first appearance on the first issue of Goro's miniseries Prince of Pain. Baraka was portrayed as the classic brawn-over-brains type, and had the distinction of speaking in broken English; in the 1993 Midway-created Mortal Kombat II comic book, his only line was "Baraka show [Johnny] Cage pain!" Baraka was also featured in an eponymous one-shot issue by Malibu Comics in 1995. He was also one of numerous characters who habitually referred to themselves in the third person throughout Malibu's entire Mortal Kombat series. Baraka's background is mostly kept in the comic, having him as the leader of the mutants that form part of Shao Kahn's armies. On the following Battlewave series though, he changes sides when Shao Kahn starts replacing his mutants with Scorpion's army of undead soldiers. He ends up joining with Kitana, Kung Lao, and Sub-Zero in a rebel force set to defeat the emperor. Despite this, his violent nature often put him at odds with his former comrades.
Though the character was not in the first Mortal Kombat film, Shang Tsung's masked footsoldiers therein were referred to as "Barakas" in the script. Baraka himself was included in the 1997 sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and was played by Stuntman Dennis Keiffer, but he was never identified by name save for the closing credits, and had no dialogue aside from growling sounds. He attempts to stop Liu Kang from rescuing Kitana, who is imprisoned inside a cage in Shao Kahn's war room; this leads into a brief fight scene that ends with Baraka being kicked off the top of the cage by Liu Kang and sent plummeting to his death into a fire pit. In a continuity violation, an outtake of Rain falling into the pit earlier in the film was used at the end of this scene. Baraka had a greatly expanded role in the script and novelization, in which he partakes in the opening invasion of Earth in place of Rain alongside Kahn's other generals (Sheeva, Ermac, and Motaro), and has an inconclusive fight with Sonya that sees him gain the upper hand before all fighting is halted by Kahn. In an additional scene that was not filmed, he also oversees prisoners slaving away in an Outworld cobalt mine, where Kitana is held captive. The fight scene with Liu Kang is longer and more detailed, and Baraka is killed when he is crushed by Kitana's cage (a fate instead suffered by Sheeva in the film). He spoke his dialogue therein in complete sentences, in contrast to his speech pattern in the comics.
Baraka was heavily promoted during and after the release of Mortal Kombat: Deception. There was a special edition of the game only for Xbox featuring his likeness, and a promotional metal card with his biography. There were also two controllers: one for Xbox and one for Playstation 2, displaying one of his Fatalities.
Baraka appeared in director Kevin Tancharoen's 2010 short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, and in compliance with the film's grittier contemporary setting, his origin was changed into his being a former plastic surgeon named Alan Zane. After accidentally killing a patient, Zane goes psychotic and murders over two dozen more, then proceeds to mutilate his face with numerous piercings, file down his teeth, and attach a pair of long metal blades to his forearms, in addition to sporting long dreadlocks. He was played by Brazilian martial artist and stuntman Lateef Crowder. Both the design and storyline for the character were not carried over into Tancharoen's Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, in which Baraka was reverted to his original Outworld origins. Canadian actor and stuntman Fraser Aitcheson replaced Crowder for a one-episode appearance in the 2011 first season, and the first image of his take on the character was published online by the New York Times.
Baraka ranked third on GameDaily's ugliest game characters list and as 12th on their list of "top baldies". GamePlayBook listed Baraka as the fourth best Mortal Kombat character, citing his devastating arms and Fatalities. Cheat Code Central ranked Baraka as the tenth best Mortal Kombat character, commenting "I'm sorry, but there's just nothing not cool about that" when talking about the blade protruding from his arms. Game Rant placed Baraka as the eighth best character in the series, adding "what the mutant lacked in good looks, he easily made up for with satisfying moves" and considered him to be the weirdest character in MKII. In UGO Networks' 2012 list of the top 50 Mortal Kombat characters, Baraka placed as seventh, praised for his blades and Fatalities. Sega Visions said of the character in 1994, "For pure ugliness and a bad attitude, Baraka can't be beat."
Baraka's "Lift'em-up" Fatality in Mortal Kombat Trilogy was given the 3rd place "That's Gotta Hurt" Award in Nintendo Power Awards '96. Game Informer listed Baraka as one of the characters they wanted to see in MK 2011 as "people love Baraka" but he has been absent from many MK titles ever since his debut.
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