Hanzo Hasashi (Ian Anthony Dale), General of the Shirai Ryu clan, prepares for the coming of the Shogun of Kumamoto Castle. When he is informed that the Shogun has arrived early, he immediately prepares for a rendezvous with him. He dons the mask and weapons of his alter-ego: Scorpion. While on his way, he encounters his arch-nemesis Sub Zero (Kevan Ohtsji). At that moment it becomes clear that the early arrival of the shogun was an elaborate ruse.
“Scorpion and Sub Zero (Part 1)” offers the first appearance of both sub zero and Scorpion, two wildly popular characters in the Mortal Kombat cannon. Aside from their similar costumes, both characters possess the most famous powers and fatalities of the lot. The trailer for Mortal Kombat: Legacy featured Sub Zero prominently, so this episode does not arrive without a certain level of anticipation.
The dialogue is in Japanese with English subtitles. This gives it the feel of an anime series, or even an anime cut scene from a video game. It also captures the flavor of a modern Chambara. The cinematography is very subdued and picturesque, with the actors speaking many of their lines in hushed tones. The winter time setting is serene and calm.
The mythology of these particular characters takes on a less epic/cosmic grandeur than that of Raiden. Scorpion and Subzero are two superpowered characters that inhabit a fairly recognizable period in Japanese history. Their costumes are reminiscent of those in Chang Cheh’s “Venoms” films, which featured superhuman characters in hilariously outlandish getups walking casually among the townspeople.
Like the “Raiden” episode, “Scorpion and Sub Zero (Part 1)” does a serviceable job of generating ample build up to the inevitable confrontation. We learn just enough about Scorpion’s family and back-story. Just when things are about to get interesting, the episode ends abruptly. This is a particularly maddening aspect of these two-part story arcs. It makes one wish that these episodes could have been extended to a full 22 minutes a piece, so as to do away with endless cliff hangers. Kevin Tancharoen may be going for a Saturday matinee feel, but there is a law of diminishing returns. That approach might have worked better in an animated series.
“Scorpion and Sub Zero (Part 1)” is consistent in build up and tone. It manages to draw the viewer in, but the cliff hanger is nonetheless frustrating. Anything less then an all out smack down in next week’s episode will constitute an epic fail. Kevin Tancharoen has shown that he is competent as far as set up goes. He now has to polish his ability to make these machinations pay off in a tangible manner. Here’s to hoping that Scorpion vs. Sub Zero will be a true clash of the titans.