It's no longer a shock to see video games lining the lobby of your local multiplex. But starting this fall, you'll see a barrage of games on the big screen as well. No fewer than three movies based on video games are due before next summer: Street Fighter, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme; Double Dragon, featuring Terminator 2's Robert Patrick; and Mortal Kombat, with Christopher Lambert and Talisa Soto. Another game, Doom, has just been optioned. And this could be just Level One.
When these films finally arrive in theaters, get ready for special effects-intensive battles between good and evil in such settings as war-torn Southeast Asia (Street Fighter); a post-Big One L.A. (Double Dragon); and the hellish moons of Mars (Doom). But forget about Mortal Kombat's flesh-ripping ''Finish Him!'' sequences, the source of much of the game's notoriety. ''You're gonna see finishing moves that are cooler than anything you've seen,'' says Kombat producer Larry Kasanoff. ''But they're going to be rated PG-13.''
That's in deference to these movies' expected core audience of rabid game players mostly young males. One of these aficionados is related to Mortal Kombat's Soto. ''My nephew's so excited I'm doing this movie,'' the actress laughs. ''Straight away, he said, 'Who are you playing? Sonya or Princess Kitana?' I said, 'Princess Kitana.' He goes, 'Oh, wow!' Then he started telling me about my role.''