MORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: SNOW BLIND — Animated Movie Hits 4K UHD & Blu-ray

Kombat Goes Post-Apocalyic Samurai Western — and Surprisingly Missteps

The Mortal Kombat Legends lineup of films adds a new member to the family with Snow Blind, the latest entry in the videogame-based action-animation franchise.

It comes off of the near-perfect track record of two prior films, Scorpion’s Revenge and Battle of the Realms, which I praised for their stylization, smart storytelling, and obvious reverence for Mortal Kombat lore, new and old.

While the newest entry Snow Blind does try to bring new and different elements to this lineup, it ultimately feels like more of a side story than an essential piece of the MK universe.

Last Year’s Battle of the Realms finished on some very overtly climatic and even apocalyptic terms, begging the question of what’s next. Well, after an apocalypse, you get post-apocalyptic.

Snow Blind delves further into a dark future, in which an aged and withdrawn Kuai Liang (Ron Yuan) — better known as Sub-Zero — ekes out a simple existence as a farmer in a desolate wasteland. Like William Munny in Unforgiven or Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Returns, the former warrior has put his violent past behind him, but gets called out of retirement.

Now a ruthless warlord, old foe Kano (David Wenham) has become the ruler of the land, mercilessly enforcing his will with cruelty and viciousness with the help of his Black Dragon faction, including characters like Shang Tsung, Kabal, Tremor, Erron Black, and others who are familiar to gamers.

This uneasy balance is tested when a young upstart, Kenshi (Manny Jacinto), takes a stand against Kano and his goons. The encounter leaves him blind, but his determination inspires Kuai Liang to intercede and help him find his inner swordsman – meanwhile realizing he himself has been turning a blind eye to those who need his help.

Injecting the franchise with a samurai-western vibe and elements of Mad Max and Zatoichi sounds like a slam dunk. Hell, it should be one. And while I like the story being told here, Snow Blind is a step down from the prior films.

Returning viewers will promptly notice the change in animation styles; taking on a more conventional appearance and missing some of the angular look, anime action and camera work, and Mignola-esque lighting that made the other films so immersive and dynamic to look at (and as the screenshots show, there’s not a very wide color palette at play, with a sort of dull brown sheen to everything — appropriate to the story, but kind of drab). It’s a matter of opinion that I like the older look better, and a matter of reality that they need to change up the styles or teams sometimes, as demonstrated in Mortal Kombat’s sister DC universe. Fair enough.

Another feeling fans may grapple with is just how far this takes us from what we might consider the heart or core of what “Mortal Kombat” is. It’s a sprawling universe, and this tale takes us to its fringes. Series regulars like Raiden, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Kung Lao, Sonya Blade, and Jax Briggs, many who have been ominpresent in virtually every iteration of this franchise, just aren’t part of this story. It’s not exactly a flaw — good stories can come from anywhere, and with any characters — but it can’t help but sit a little weird.

And most peculiarly, the violence is really off-putting.


“It’s too violent” is an inherently absurd and almost indefensible criticism for the Mortal Kombat franchise, known for its devastating martial arts, brutal finishing moves, geysers of blood and viscera, decapitations, and so on. And yet, here we are.

I applauded the prior films for their ability to incorporate that extreme bloody goodness to their formula in a way that felt impactful and fit the storylines.

The ultraviolence is great and even fun and cathartic when it’s good guys taking out bad guys, or at least willing combatants fighting in a tournament context or for the fate of the universe, slicing each other up like sushi rolls and doling out comically absurd character-specific “fatalities”. But Snow Blind goes extremely hard in a different direction. Kano and his army of brutes tear through villages on murderous rampages, wantonly shooting and slicing up tons of innocents and civilians, and for some reason this is done as graphically and gruesomely as possible. Honestly, this stuff is just awful.

I do like the story here, and the film finds its footing later on, as Sub-Zero finally makes his uniformed return for the showdown, and we even get an exciting reunion with another familiar and beloved character that really injects a much needed jolt of energy to the final act.

Snow Blind is ultimately worth the watch for fans, but it’s not in the same league as the prior two entries, which represented Mortal Kombat at its very best.

The Package

Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind is new to home video in 4K UHD and Blu-ray editions. The 4K version I reviewed includes a 4K UHD disc, Blu-ray disc (with bonus features), and Movies Anywhere digital copy. My copy came with a metallic foil slipcover.

Special Features and Extras:

Kenshi: From Video Game to Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind (7:41)
Kenshi isn’t really a major character in the games, but the filmmakers saw his potential for storytelling and decided to build this tale around him.

Adapting Evil: Building the Black Dragon Clan (9:26)
The creative team describes the concept of making Kano the big threat — not his norm — and fleshing out how evil and ruthless his crew is. This was my least favorite part of the film, but in theory I can appreciate what they were going for. I liked that footage from the games is shown to highlight some characters including minor players and cameos.

Animatics (1:26, 3:42)

Get it at Amazon: 4K UHD | Blu-ray
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