Paul Anderson gained a fair bit of notoriety in his native England when he directed the ultra-violent Shopping from his own script. The film, highly regarded for its stylish direction and production on a shoestring budget, featured Jude Law and Sean Pertwee in a story about ram-raiders, thieves whose technique is to drive a car into storefronts and make off with whatever goods can be grabbed in a few seconds. The film was banned in the U.K. for a while, and a somewhat trimmed version became a straight-to-video release in the U.S.
Shopping was enough of a calling card for Anderson that his next film was Mortal Kombat, a flashy adaptation of the hit computer game. Anderson's visual flair and tight editing brought him a great deal of praise. The film performed wonderfully at the box office, giving Anderson a blank check for his next film. He had intended to go straight on to Soldier at Warner Bros., with Kurt Russell in the lead, but the film was delayed by Russell's decision to take a break from acting, pushing the start date of that film into 1998.