Soon after its premiere, Joseph Kahn’s Power Rangers was removed from the streaming portals Vimeo and Youtube. Do you have any ideas why it happened? As the title says, this video was far too dark, violent, and cynical to be a Power Rangers short. It literally depicted unfiltered content, such as the Black Ranger sleeping with multiple women and using illicit substances, only to later spill the brains of some bad guys.
Power Rangers fans and the entire internet community exploded in outrage shortly after it was removed from the internet, with some even screaming their guts out! The clamor was so loud that it could be considered a micro-revolution! Even Saban had to give up and allow the picture to be re-released online.
But Kahn didn’t make the short film to irritate audiences or to entice investors to offer him a large sum of money for a major film. His only goal was to create his own version of the Power Rangers. In fact, he stated in an interview that Power Rangers might be portrayed as dark and gritty as a short, but as a full-length picture, it should adhere to socially acceptable conventions. Without further ado, let’s have a look at Joseph Kahn’s lovely yet divisive short film, produced by Adi Shankar.
Before we begin with Joseph Kahn’s Power Rangers, let us quickly recap who these superheroes are, their archenemies and what powers the rangers possess. It all begins in with an empire of inter-galactic robotic beings who capture innumerable worlds throughout their existence. Eventually, these beings or the Machine Empire reach Planet Earth with hopes of conquering our world. However, they encounter a foe that wasn’t just capable of crushing their forces that were led by robot monsters but could also rebel against the Machine Empire.
These formidable Earthly heroes were known as the Power Rangers. The heroes were regular school kids who were gifted with a unique superpower each. When the powers of the Rangers combine, they give rise to an ultimate being named Megazord. (Please check the validity of this statement as I am not sure. Thank you.) One thing to be kept in mind while discussing today’s video is that this short is not entirely a reboot of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but a recreation of sorts.
Joseph Kahn’s Power Rangers fight the Machine Empire on stepping foot on Earth. The ruthless mechanical aliens defeat the mighty Power Rangers in a fierce battle. The cinematic experience of the battle sequences is nothing short of a fantastic action film with impressive weaponry and even more grand explosions. Unfortunately, it is pretty short-lived. To save the planet from the wrath of the Machine Empire, Earth’s governments sign a peace treaty with the aliens.
The Power Rangers are disbanded under a clause of this treaty. Naturally, this meant that our heroes had to now find other sources of livelihood. While some went to become television stars, the others joined the Machine Empire itself. Many years later, the second Red Ranger Rocky defects to the Machine Empire. Rocky DeSantos used to be a mighty hero who wielded the powers of a T-Rex when he transformed.
He used to pilot the Red Shogunzord, the Ape Ninjazord, and the Red Dragon Thunderzord. Rocky was always optimistic about life, cheerful and good humorous without much inclination towards treachery. So, why does Joseph Kahn make his character give in to the enemy, you ask? Well, we see that Rocky was extremely critical of the fact that Zordon shaped juvenile soldiers. Which brings us to the question, who was Zordon?
He was the mentor to our Rangers and the one who gave the Rangers their powers. He used to be human once but had now morphed into a floating head in a tube of energy since he was trapped in a time warp. Zordon was the one who had defeated evil forces, approximately ten thousand years ago and banished them to the moon. Coming back to our plot, Rocky simply loathed Zordon’s use of children in a fight that they didn’t really understand– against an enemy they hadn’t even met. We were children asked to fight an intergalactic war against an enemy we’d never met.
Let’s stop pretending our side stood on some moral high ground.)Nevertheless, Rocky, on switching over to the Machine Empire’s side, gets himself a prosthetic leg and was now on the lookout for his team members. Another reason behind Rocky’s change of heart was that he didn’t want to be on the losing side.
From the moment the Machine Empire integrated their technology with the Earth he believed that their fight for freedom was a lost cause. (rocky: I made sure I was on the winning side.) Rocky was unimpressed by the strategy of arming children in a fight against an alien race, so strong that it had taken over thousands of worlds, while the adults sat tight in their offices holding high political posts.
He brings in the former Pink Ranger Kimberly for interrogation. (Rocky: Bullshit is an ugly color on you. Kimberly: I prefer pink.) Kimberly was one of the rangers; who boasted the Pink color and wielded the mighty Power Bow. She brandished the Crane Ninjazord, the Firebird Thunderzord, and the Pterodactyl Dinozord. Anywho, Rocky cross-examines her about the former Green Ranger Tommy Oliver’s current whereabouts. (Kimberly: What do you want, Rocky? Rocky: Where’s Tommy?) Tommy was the original Green Ranger and served as the main protagonist for most of Power Ranger history, but is also the Ranger who almost defeated the others, under the control of the Evil Witch Rita Repulsa.
Noticing that Kimberly was a tough nut to crack, Rocky turns to psychological torture by bringing up the other Rangers’ fate, including that of her husband Jason, who was killed 8 hours after their marriage. Jason was the first Red Ranger, but Bulk and Skull sold him out by revealing his location. He dies a gruesome and violent death, with hundreds of bullets piercing his body. Joseph Kahn held no qualms about spilling blood on the screen while shooting Jason’s death. Rocky then indulges in the details of the original Black Ranger’s fate.
Zack the Black Ranger, was an action junkie and an exemplary martial arts enthusiast who loved leading a rich playboy’s life. One may say that his life as a Power Ranger who landed Power Bows was downgraded on becoming a television persona, acting in shows like Hip Hop Kido. Forgetting his roots, he ended up as a muscleman for the Machine Empire. Money was not his primary focus. The ex-Rangers’ insatiable hunger for action and adventure led him to volunteer himself as an enforcer to overcome any resistance that the Machine Empire faced.
He even enters the den of the North Korean leader, General Klank. Zack shows off his magnificent moves to the North Koreans; the kicks, the punches, the brain splattering, and Oh! all that blood spilling! Joseph Kahn truly proves his mettle as an action film director in this particular fight sequence. To one’s disappointment, Zack gets shot from behind and more blood is spilled.
At this point, Rocky accuses Tommy of being responsible for the death of Kimberly’s friends. He zeroes in on the fact that Rita had previously turned Tommy against the Rangers once and was probably doing it again. He tells her that Tommy had paid a visit to the former Blue Ranger Billy Cranston, who was now openly gay and the proud owner of Lockheed Martin. While the audience knows that Tommy didn’t kill Billy, Rocky seems to suspect otherwise.
Kimberly, however, has not lost her faith in Tommy and defends him, denying his role in the killings of the former Rangers. When Rocky grills Kimberly further using physical force, she fesses up about last having seen Tommy at the funeral of their former Yellow Ranger Trini. Trini had died during the peace treaty negotiations between the Machine Empire and Earth. Rocky then reveals his wicked plan; he tells her that he was already aware of it and was simply using her as bait for Tommy.
The next thing we know, Tommy arrives at the facility and slaughters the guards. He and Rocky then get into one of the most well-choreographed, one-on-one sword fights followed by hand-to-hand combat, to have ever been seen in a short film. Both are equally formidable opponents being masters of martial arts. However, just as Rocky begins to overpower Tommy, Kimberly somehow manages to break free and shoots Rocky in the head.
But wait! Tommy is not pleased by his savior, he asks Kimberly who she really is! She initially sticks to her given identity, but when questioned further, her left cheek begins to crack and crumble. It turns out that this Kimberly was actually Rita Repulsa in disguise, who had killed the other Rangers. As the façade fades, she once again tries to lure Tommy as he is the last one standing, into being a part of her dream of world domination. However, Tommy knows better this time around and he attacks her, and Joseph Kahn’s Power Rangers comes to an end.
Future of the Franchise
If we are to go by the latest news, Hasbro and eOne are working on a new live-action Power Rangers project that is expected to release in the latter half of 2023. British director Jonathan Entwistle has signed the papers, taking up the reigns of this new project. While the cast hasn’t been finalized yet, there’s a lot of new information like the presence of a female lead, a lot of new Zords, and a time travel element to connect the film to shows like Power Rangers Dino Fury. As intriguing as the concept may sound, only time will tell whether the film succeeds.