Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind
Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind is the third in a series of direct-to-video R-rated animated movies based on the Mortal Kombat franchise created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. The film was releases on October 11, 2022 on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray and October 9 through digital outlets. The movie centers on a deep cut character that hard core fans would be more familiar with: Kenshi (voiced by Manny Jacinto) and his journey from an unpolished cocky fighter to an experienced warrior in the face of Kano's campaign to take over Earthrealm.
The special features are a help for the indoctrinated. "Kenshi: From the Video Game to Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind" briefs you on the star Kenshi while "Adapting Evil: Building the Black Dragon Clan" is a primer on Kano and his underlings. Rounding out the special features are deleted animatics that didn't make it into the final cut and an audio commentary from producer/director Rick Morales and screenwriter Jeremy Adams.
Snow Blind starts off a couple years after the second movie and Earthrealm has been decimated. Kano and his Black Dragons are going from town to town in a bid to conquer everything by forcing their protection racket on denizens a bit like the old Kurosawa Yojimbo and also the Zatoichi films. The former Sub-Zero has his food stolen then he's followed by Kano's scouting team to a hidden village. Kenshi is a brash young man who's one of few willing to stand up to the Black Dragons and he pays the price for it. He soon finds himself an unwitting pawn of Shang Tsung who wants to activate the village's Well of Souls. Kenshi is left for dead at the bottom of the well then Liang attempts to train the blinded Kenshi now armed with Sento, an ancestral sword he found in the well. Essentially, the movie is thrust into the standard Mortal Kombat over-the-top bloody bar fight. Liang summons Scorpion for help because of some vague pact that's not really explained (but who cares because it's the two big guns of the franchise in an unholy alliance) and they head off to rescue Kenshi after a bar room brawl leads to his capture and torture. Things take a turn when Sub-Zero learns Kano was using an object to rewrite time in his favor (which I guess explains why Shang Tsung is his lackey) and Liang glimpses a multiverse (sigh). Naturally, Kano is killed but Sub-Zero goes to hell with Scorpion and leaves fixing Earthrealm to Kenshi. Shrug.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind attempts to go in a new direction and take up residence in the post-apocalyptic movie genre a la Mad Max. That may turn off the Mortal Kombat purists but may appeal to other fans looking for Mortal Kombat to broach new storylines and inject something unique into the franchise. In a weird way, you can watch this pretty much without watching the two previous movies but it still helps to have a watched them at some point. Kenshi does carry the film on his shoulders quite well and you are invested in him becoming a true hero as the minutes pass by but I think in the joy of breaking new territory, Snow Blind tries to do too much in 80 minutes rather than focus on the main cast which for the most part aren't A or B-list characters. You get lost in fight after fight with little characterization in the rest of the cast to the point you start contemplating fast forwarding to see when Kenshi defeats Kano. By the end, the movie is rolling on inertia. The quality of the movie's animation goes up and down and it felt like the budget was slashed for this one like a two person training sequences and cheap looking "frozen" background people. Even Kuai Liang's ice storm lacks weight. The fight choreography was still killer to watch. Ultimately, I did appreciate the third movie was a different kind of story and theme than Mortal Kombat standard fare. Hope more "solo" movies are on the horizon.
Rating: 7 out of 10