You don’t need to watch the preceding Legends movies to enjoy Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind. Admittedly, almost everyone around me in the audience was here simply because this was a New York Comic Con event. Despite the lighter covid-limited-seating and that most of us in the audience were simply here to enjoy and exchange panels info of things to see on Day 1, what really stood out for this screening is just how much the audience left feeling entertained. The movie does a good job of exceeding expectations, even better, when there are none, which is how I think most viewers should approach it.
The story focuses on a young Kenshi (played by Manny Jacinto) from the Mortal Kombat series. Who is a lesser-known warrior than your Sub Zeros and Liu Kangs of the franchise, which actually helps its fresh take on the story. The film follows his journey as the only hero willing to stand against The Black Dragon, a recycled Mortal Kombat villain organization led by the surprisingly unstoppable King Kano (David Wenham). This time around Kano is more-or-less a cyborg in a very terminator body suit kind of way. Likewise, he and his Black Dragon actually have a pretty menacing role compared to previous depictions of the franchise.
The Black Dragon rule, led by the surprisingly unstoppable Kano. Kano is a big leader this time. He’s also kind of cybernetic in an Ultron kind of way in the black dragon. Cybernetic takes a step further than what we’re used to. Though with his goons such as Kano and crew. In no particular order, there’s some ruffians, a robbery, and a newly pacifist-living Kuai Liang (Ron Yuan), who is absolutely stellar in his portrayal of Old-Man Sub-Zero.
Now, though the Kenshi and sub-zero storyline are the focus, for a story that starts out pretty good, it does backpedal onto post-apocalpytic cliches by its midpoint. Anyone who has watched Daredevil (as Kenshi is a blind swordsman) or has seen any sort of old-mentor teaches padawan kind of story sort of can tell beat-for-beat what’s going to happen by the midpoint of the movie. There’s a cursed item. A motivation for revenge. And themes of regret and repeantance that while violently motivate for the characters, again, isn’t reinventing the wheel for the genre.
Which is why I think, the best thing to come out of this movie is actually Manny Jacquinto, who in so many ways, was surprisingly fantastic in this role. His playful take on the smart mouthed yet headstrong Kenshi comes off as sly, yet, cunning and his character arc feels genuinely refreshing for a series that’s sort of always depended on its extremities, whether it be Mortal Kombat’s visceral fatalities or ridiculous extra-dimensional karate-tournament to the death (I’m kidding) themed cinema style.
Seeing Kenshi grow in this journey and hearing Jacquinto’s cadence change along with the growth of his character does seem remarkable if you, like myself, keep remembering that this is Jason Mendoza from The Good Place. There’s some serious growth in range here as an actor just from his voice alone and Jacquinto does such a good job of going from cocky youth to serious warrior. I’d even say he’d be a fantastic choice for Nightwing, if this were possible (He’d also be the first Filipino Nightwing that had a cultural reason to use Eskrima Sticks).
Aesthetically, everything about these wastelands feels just like Mad Max…
It’s a western post-apocalypse filled with desert broken down wooden saloons and some, let’s just say, bombastic evil villain tropes. It should also be noted that Kano, a notoriously Australian retconned villain in the series, makes sort of the perfect antagonist for these wastes given that the Mad Max aesthetic and vibe was also entirely shot and taken off the desserts of Australia in those original movies.
Atop of this, one of the things stand out the most is that the movie is incredibly ultra violent. Lots of what you see is very reminiscent of some late 2000s Adult-Swim types of series, in that the action is over the top along with the weapons, gore, bullets, and viscera. That said, there were issues regarding the penciling and character models, whose textures at times felt disjointed from the movements of the film overall.
Now, the barrier to entry for this movie is a basic knowledge of Mortal Kombat. Some favorite characters make some appearances such as Sub Zero, Shang Tsung, and a few more cameos that I’ll avoid for the sake of spoilers as there’s a decent amount of fan service that’s best to approach blind.
Snow Blind isn’t a mind-boggling adventure nor it is a film that does much to depend on the laurels of its predecessor. Rather, the movie does what any good Mortal Kombat wants to achieve: showcasing violent action littered with fatalities while presenting some sort of ninja-aesthetically themed tragedy. All of which gets achieved in its hour and twenty-two-minute runtime… plus, a post-apocalypse.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind will be available on digital release on October 9th and on the physical disk and Blu-Ray on October 10th